An invitation to a child's 1st birthday party has gone viral, after the parents used the opportunity to request very specific - and expensive - presents from their guests. They even insisted that anyone buying items that were not on the list should include the receipt so they could be returned to the shop.
The invitation was published on Reddit, and was captioned 'Most demanding 1st birthdayparty invite ever.' In it, the parents list four pricey items, with the request: "If you are unable to get these items, please let us know so that we can buy them right away."
It went on to insist that if party attendees choose to get something that isn't on the list, they must include the receipt. It explains: "When we return items without receipts, we only get about 50% of the value, so it's like throwing money away."
It's a lovely way to show party guests that the hosts have a long history of returning everything they ever received from you - and they only got about half the value you were expecting from it.
Just in case there was any worry that the child won't get something lasting and memorable in place of your gift, the letter goes on to say: "With formula costing us $80 a week, it is always nice to be able to return items that he doesn't need to get formula instead."
Is this reasonable?
In the parents' defence, the letter didn't go out to a vast list of party attendees, but to the grandparents, uncles and aunts. In many families, it's fairly normal for parents to ask for something specific from this group of people, and in most it's usual for the close family to check if there's anything the child would like.
There are also some clues in the letter to the problems the parents have encountered in the past with unwanted gifts. They write that the baby has 32 board books on his shelf, and at the moment hates being read to. Given that no parent would invest in 32 things their child hates, the majority of them must be unwanted gifts. And assuming they have already had 30 poor presents for their child in the first year of his life, you can understand their desire to put an end to it now.
But while many parents can identify with the motivation for writing a letter like this, you'll go a long way before you find anyone who would be happy to receive it.
The tone is an unusual choice. There is a level of expectation implicit in the list: that the parents have a right to expect certain things from their family - and that at the moment everyone is falling short of their expectations. It's a written slap in the face for everyone who has bought presents in the past that haven't been up to scratch.
It also divorces any affection or sentiment from the gift-buying process. The idea of telling a child's grandparent that you plan to return their present and buy baby milk powder would be unthinkable.
Most parents would tell you that you cannot control everything, and you need to enjoy the good side of what life - and birthdays - throw at you. Otherwise you will be far too busy fretting about providing the perfect birthday cake to appreciate the joy it brings your 1-year-old to smash both their fists into it and start feeding it to the dog. It seems that these parents are still hankering for the level of control they had before parenthood.
The majority of parents would also agree that when your children are young, it's always the thought that counts. Sometimes that means living with a present you wouldn't have chosen yourself - on the understanding that it was given with love. Other times you'll find yourself looking after a screaming baby or a willful toddler, and a thoughtful word or offer from a family member will be worth more than present ever could be.
But what do you think? Would you send a letter like this? Let us know in the comments.
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