Mom Wonders About Returning A $100 Gift Given At A "No Gift" Birthday

“Your presence is the gift,” the invitation lies. Who among us hasn’t sent our child to a “no gift” birthday party empty-handed, only to be greeted by a table of gifts? It’s embarrassing. More than once, I’ve fished through my purse for an unused gift card or crisp bill to slip into the birthday card envelope.

One parent went to Reddit following their 7-year-old daughter’s “no gift” birthday party, where the last family to arrive was trapped in an awkward spot. The guilted guests turned over $100, and now the parents of the birthday girl are asking if they are the a**holes for keeping it.

When the guests in question (fake names Joe and Sue) walked into the party, the birthday girl asked if they brought a gift.

“Sue saw the other gifts and looked clearly embarrassed for not having brought one, and said she thought the invite said ‘no gifts,’” the mom explained.

“We were standing in front of the other parents who had just given their gifts so I didn’t make a big deal about it, and I said something like ‘No, no, you’re right we didn’t ask for anything; she’s spoiled enough as is haha,’” she continued. “Unbeknownst to me, Sue quickly made a card and added it to gift pile. After cake, Joe and Sue’s son ran up (in front of everyone) and asked my daughter to open the card (we had not planned on opening gifts at the party).”

This is just getting more and more awkward!

“My daughter pulled out a $100 bill and everyone gasped, basically, and of course my daughter was elated (followed by my daughter opening the other very small, inexpensive presents),” she went on. “Joe seemed upset and withdrawn the rest of the party, and Sue acted like this was a completely normal gift.”

When she went to her partner with a gut-check, they thought the gift should have never been accepted.

“Later when I told my partner how this all transpired they were upset we may have done the wrong thing by not returning the gift, because Joe and Sue clearly felt guilted into it. AITA?”

Clearly this birthday party took a turn toward cringe. But who is the a**hole? And what now?

Many wondered if the birthday girl had been told it was a “no gift” party.

“Did you prepare your daughter that it was a no gift party? That some people may still bring one but it’s not expected? Don’t ask people for gifts,” one person wrote.

Regardless, most people agreed that there was a missed teaching opportunity in the moment the daughter asked her guests about a gift.

“She’s only 7, so it was a natural question,” another person said. “Take the opportunity to teach your daughter why that question is rude. Tell her she didn’t do anything wrong, but that gift-giving and gift-receiving can be complicated in the adult world.”

“You really did miss the opportunity to correct your daughter and tell Sue, ‘You are correct. The invitation said no gifts — and you being here is exactly the gift we wanted.’”

“YTA your kid basically finessed these people out of a hundred bucks and you just let her lol,” someone added.

Some people thought it was wrong to accept gifts at all — but would it be rude to turn down gifts?

“YTA for stating no gifts and still accepting them,” someone wrote.

Others identified leaving any gifts in sight as an avoidable mistake — not a bad idea.

“You should have put all the gifts in a different room immediately as they were received so that they weren’t creating awkward moments as other parents arrived without gifts.”

And allowing any gifts to be opened during the party as another misstep.

“When the son ran up and asked you to open the gifts, why didn’t you as the adult say, we aren’t opening gifts now, we’re waiting,” a sensible person said. “Especially since there were people that didn’t bring gifts as per your request.”

Based on upvotes, returning the money is the right way to resolve the situation.

“No, Sue didn’t need to do anything and could have dealt with the embarrassment by a 7 year old, but she didn’t,” someone wrote. “You know they didn’t plan to give your child $100. Return the money.”

“Without letting your daughter know, give a different $100 back to Sue and Joe, say thank you for the generosity, but you asked for no gifts and apologize for the awkward moment that created a sense of obligation.”

“Explain to your daughter that it was an extremely nice gift, but inappropriately large amount, and nobody was supposed to bring gifts anyway, so it needs to go back to Joe and Sue.”

Many recommended adding more explicit instructions around gifting to the next invitation, like offering an alternative for people who have to bring something.

“The parents could always say that in lieu of physical gifts, consider donating to a specific cause that the child likes,” someone suggested.

Plenty of Redditors were sympathetic to how overwhelming birthday parties and in-the-moment awkwardness can be, and the frustrating reality that “no gifts” means something different to everyone.

“I really think that most parents who put ‘no gifts’ on an invite don’t truly mean it, they’re only doing it if parents of other kids in the friend group are doing it,” wrote one person.

“I hate it, because we say ‘no gifts’ and mean it but everyone thinks it’s some sort of secret message and they’re supposed to bring a gift anyway. Because it’s ‘polite’ to say no gifts but also ‘polite’ to bring a gift, and nobody wants to be the only one to not bring something, so there’s this whole dance with gift cards and emergency gifts tucked in purses in case the gift avalanche starts and you have to throw something on the table. It’s exhausting.”

Yes, we can all agree that birthday party etiquette for kids is exhausting!

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