You may know of my addiction to all things etiquette and advice-related. I frequent the columns of Miss Manners, Carolyn Hax and Dear Prudence and sometimes wish I could join their ranks, but that's a story for another day.
This time I'm asking for insight from you.
The question: As Mac's second birthday approaches, how can I convey that gifts are not necessary at his party?
The background: Last year, we explicitly stated "no gifts, please" on the invite. No one complied, but we wanted the small group invited to know that their excitement was more than enough for our well-loved boy. (Obviously, Mac was overjoyed and "wrote" everyone thank you notes. But the hope was that they felt free to come empty-handed, too.)
Emily Post and Miss Manners, however, believe that just mentioning gifts, even if you are asking guests not to bring any, implies that they should have thought to bring one, or that they would have.
So this year, I left that clause off. (Invites have yet to go out.) But we still want our nearest and dearest to know they needn't bring anything but themselves.
We're inviting guests so we can have a few extra voices in the mix as we warble out "Happy Birthday!" and stuff ourselves with cake; I don't want them to feel compelled to bring a thing.
Side note: This is not a judgment against people who do want people to bring their children gifts. Who doesn't want their child celebrated? And it's not that gifts are entirely unwelcome or unappreciated, just unnecessary. Coming by means enough!
Mac isn't covered up in toys, as we have gone heavy on books and light on shiny things in his two years. But he has no need for anything in particular besides cake and candles.
So the goal is: if you want to swing over for a sweet treat and the blowing out of two candles, feel free to do that, sans the trip to the toy store.
Back to the point: How we should we let people know? Word of mouth? A note after the invite that conveys we'd love to see them, but they should feel welcome to bring only themselves?
How would you do it? And was there an age (for your children) at which you stopped saying "no gifts" or is that always an acceptable concept?
(Do fifth-graders rebel at such nonsense, or are overstretched parents even more thankful then for the reprieve?)
So looking forward to your thoughts!
A hostess planning two dinner parties thisveryminute to appease Miss Manners' "where has non-gift-related entertaining gone?!" voice pointing out her hypocrisy.