Birthday Bother

Hi Annabel,

I hope that you can help with this. My daughter is going to turn 7 soon. Her birthday is on Feb. 14. Every year we have a party, and people inevitably give her Valentine-themed gifts. Heart necklaces, pink and red clothing, etc. We are all just “over” it, including my daughter. I know that it is Valentine’s Day, but it’s also her birthday. The rest of the year, we attend birthday parties for kids who get normal presents that they are excited about and we always try to pick out something really thoughtful and nice.
I am working on the invitation and my question for you is, can I put something on there that politely asks people not to bring heart-shaped gifts? How should I phrase it?
Fed-Up Mom
Dear Fed-Up,
That’s a tricky one. Of course you want your little girl to have a fabulous, memorable birthday that isn’t overshadowed by any other holiday or event. You want people to celebrate her (instead of the fact that Target just slashed prices on Valentine’s Day gear).
Alas, I’m afraid there’s no polite way to dissuade guests from bringing any particular type of gift. When someone gives you a present, good manners demand that you unwrap it and say thank you, even if it’s the lamest/laziest/sorriest/most short-sighted thing you’ve ever seen.
My only bright idea is to identify an incongruous theme and weave it into every element of party planning.
Katie’s just crazy about mermaids!
Dive into the fun — please join us for a birthday party under the sea!
People will be less likely to arrive with Valentine’s Day gifts (though you may end up with countless mermaid dolls and DVDs).
Another thought is to organize her birthday around an activity (like karaoke, dress-up, or watching a new princess movie) that gently steers guests toward gifts inspired by the party rather than the date.
Last of all, you might consider celebrating early or late. Have a family party on the 14th, then invite your daughter’s friends over a few days later. Surely nobody will bring Valentine’s Day presents to a party scheduled for February 20…
Hope that helps!
Graciously yours,
P.S. Love the little dress pictured above? Click here.
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