What if someone brings a gift to my “No gifts please” bridal shower?

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A friend is throwing me a bridal shower which will include family members and friends. I've very specifically asked for a “no gifts please” announcement in the bridal shower invite, but reliable sources have indicated that at least a few family members might end up bringing a gift anyway.

If that happens, no biggie, but I'm wondering if I need to open those gifts at the shower or is okay to wait until after the shower? Honestly, I'd prefer to just thank the gift giver and wait until after the shower to open it.

I don't want my shower to focus on gifts, particularly when I've asked folks not to bring them, but I also want to be respectful to anyone who does end bringing something. I'm not sure how to handle this one. Advice? Suggestions? -Boos

Ah, the gift horses. If you do not want to open gifts at the shower, you should be fine since you clearly said no gifts. Just make sure you tell the organizers that you absolutely do not want to open gifts during the shower, and can they please find a place out of the way to store those gifts during the shower? Then say thank you.

What do you guys think? Open the gifts anyway? Hide them in a closet? Stick a huge gift bow on your head and run around the room screaming until everyone's so confused that the whole gifts question gets forgotten?

Comments on What if someone brings a gift to my “No gifts please” bridal shower?

  1. Id say thank you and set it aside to be opened later (after the party) and then send a gushing thank you card. You don’t want to make the people who listened to what you want to feel awkward for not sending a gift.

    • I agree. I’m also having a no gifts shower. If someone brings a gift, I’ll graciously say thank you and say something along the lines of “I look forward to opening it later after the festivities.” Then set it aside to open later and send a thank you card.

    • I agree! I was once invited to a birthday party for my boss that specifically said “no gifts” on the invite. I showed up with a bottle of wine because I felt I should bring something. Near the end of the party, he sat down and started opening all of these extravagant gifts he’d gotten from my coworkers. His wife said, “Oh, and Thena brought some wine, how sweet!” Super embarrassing.

  2. Oh man, this is soooooo timely! I am having a “no gifts at the shower” policy because my shower is in a state in which I do not live and I can’t carry things back. The hosts clearly stated on the invite that if you wish to send a gift, please send to me directly, since I’ll be traveling. Everyone is following the rule, except for my grandmother. She is bragging to everyone in the family that she bought me lingerie and expects me to open it at the shower. I am horrified. My mother-in-law will be there and is a deeply religious, conservative (absolutely wonderful) person and the thought of me opening lingerie in front of her and her family is making me sick to my stomach. The hosts have my back and plan to accept the gift and note politely, “DairyCat will be happy to open this after the shower!” But, I know my grandmother will INSIST that I open it. She is also now saying she’s bringing a large empty suitcase with her so SHE can carry any gifts back. (She lives closer to me and is traveling for the shower.) I am so sick thinking about how I’m going to handle this situation without embarrassing either myself and my mother-in-law, or everyone. Help!

    ETA: I am perfectly capable of also bringing a large, empty suitcase, but am not, since the invite clearly said “no gifts at the shower.” Grandmother isn’t being helpful.

    • Is there someone that can talk to your grandmother about the gift and explain to her that it could cause tension and discomfort for certain shower guests? Otherwise, I would just come up with a game plan with the hosts for diverting her attempts to have you open it in front of everyone.

      • Both my mother and sister have tried to explain that it’s not appropriate, but my grandmother likes to make herself the center of attention, and this is the easiest, most surefire way for that to happen. My plan is to just stand my ground firmly but politely. I love everyone’s idea of immediately putting gifts out of sight so that it can’t become an issue.

        • If granny is so obnoxious about it, why not turn the tables? Do something striking at the get-go, by saying “I hear my granny got me some naughty lingerie! I’ll be opening this gift right now (at the beginning of the party). Those who want to giggle with me are welcome to step into the drawing room/parlor/kitchen/etc, and the rest of you are free to get beverages and talk amongst yourself. Maybe, if it’s good enough, we’ll make granny model it for everyone?” Or something silly like that. If it was done at the outset, then it gives people a chance to slip away and get their mixed nuts or something without having to participate, but still makes granny into a big show? I say, take the bull by the horns and get yourself the upper hand with a showboat like that, rather than having to be in a defensive position. You don’t want to burst into tears on a happy day!!

    • Could you ask your host(ess) to unwrap the gift and display it for you? Or open it as soon as she hands it to you and display it?

      Still embarrassing to have laying around, but at least you wouldn’t be the center of attention opening it. Maybe tell g-ma firmly that your MIL is very modest and will be embarrassed by it now to try to head off too many “look what I brought!” moments?

      • Thanks, Vickie! My grandmother doesn’t yet know that I know. She still thinks she’s being cute and cheeky.

        • Maybe just approach your grandmother ahead of time. “Hey gram, I heard you got me risque lingerie. Husband-to-be and I will make sure to take a picture of it for you*, but I’m not going to open it at the shower, because Husband-to-be’s mother is deeply religious and conservative, and I don’t want to offend my future mother-in-law. I know you understand! Thanks, love ya!”

          *And then stick the lingerie on a teddy bear and send her a photo of that later. ;-p

    • It could be worse. My friend received a sexy nighty from her future husband’s Grandma! And it was bought at a garage sale!

  3. If you’ve said no gifts then I think it is perfectly acceptable to leave them unopened and then open them when you get home.
    I would suggest asking the host to find an “out of sight” place to store them so they are not the focus if anyone’s attention.
    If they are in full view displayed on a table like at a gift shower then the givers may expect you to open them, and other guests may feel guilty about not having brought a gift.

    If people directly hand you a gift, say “thank you – we’ll open this later” and direct them back to whatever is planned for the shower.

  4. I’m confused…I thought the whole point of a shower was to “shower” the future bride with gifts…that’s why it’s called a shower! Why not just call it something else if you don’t want gifts, so people don’t feel the unintended pressure of bringing one anyway because it’s what a shower traditionally is? “A lunch/party to celebrate to celebrate Boos’ wedding” or something to that effect.

    • I’ve often seen it framed as “showering the bride with love” or some other similarly metaphorical idea of a ‘shower’ on invites when the guest of honor has requested no gifts. (I work for a stationery company)

      It seems to be because culturally people might expect there to be a “bridal shower” and this way they get the invitation to the event that they expect and aren’t wondering “but wait, we had this party thing but isn’t there still a shower?”

    • I agree, Roses, if you don’t want gifts, you can save some drama by calling it a party, a lunch or dinner, or a “bridal tea.” The last one is my favourite, because it implies all the wedding-y girly fun of a shower, but none of the gift-giving implications. And even the biggest sticklers for etiquette love it–it’s in all the books, complete with the no-gift policy. Of course, it doesn’t quite sound right if you wanted a co-ed affair…

  5. Okay, this is kind of a weird idea, but hear me out.

    Can you have a little one-on-one time with every guest at the party?

    I don’t know where you’re having the shower (house, restaurant, park, etc.) but is there a little spot off to the side where you can pull each guest for a five minute private time? I’m a big gift giver and I love watching people open my gifts. Since it doesn’t sound like your main issue with gifts is being watched (a lot of people hate that) maybe you could open that person’s gift with just them. And then for the people who didn’t give gifts, you’ll have a few minutes to just sit with them and no one else, enjoy their company, thank them for coming, tell them how much you love them, etc.

    Everyone gets a little extra time with you and you can open gifts without putting the focus on the gifts. It could work.

  6. Honestly, the opening gifts in front of everyone thing was kinda awkward. Yes, it’s fun to pass around the gifts and see what someone got but… even if it isn’t lingerie and even if gifts are accepted, it felt awkward to me both at our shower and the post-wedding brunch. I agree with the suggestions of storing the gifts out of sight for those who do bring them. I admit. I’m the type who would probably bring a gift, mostly because I love giving gifts. But if I had been told not to, I’d be fine with it not being opened in front of everyone. Or, alternately, you could try a form of what @Cassie suggested and just ask those people to linger after and you can open them at that point when it’s just you and them. I love opening gifts immediately normally and love watching people open their gifts. But I received a couple wedding gifts that were not overly exciting and I had to ooh and ahh over them in front of everyone.

  7. I got round this by not having any showers and not having a gift register. We were very clear with close friends and family as to the reasons why we didn’t want to focus on the material/commercial aspects of typical wedding traditions, such as gifts, showers. We also had a very non-traditional wedding ceremony and celebration, so folks got the picture fairly clearly that we were doing things ‘differently’.

    Some people still gave us gifts, but on a 1:1 basis, which was lovely and we truly appreciated them. A group of friends banded together to buy us a joint gift, and found a way to present it to us when we all happened to be present at a social event. They told us up front what it was so we wouldn’t have to open it in front of anyone. My colleagues also banded together to give a gift and a small scale surprise celebration party disguised as a work meeting – I had absolutely zero clue before I walked into what I thought was a business meeting (and I’m a pretty perceptive person).

    All of the gifts we received were spontaneous and driven by the giver’s desire to give. We were able to express gratitude on a personal 1:1 basis to everyone who did decide to give gifts. Anyone who chose not to give gifts were not aware of those who gave. There was no pressure on anyone’s side to follow any social norms. And we were able to have the wedding we wanted that focused on the things we wanted.

    I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

  8. I’m having a no-registry wedding (I have registered for a honeymoon registry though) because my guy and I already have so much crap that we really, really don’t need any more. I’ve only mentioned this to my close family so far, since our wedding isn’t for another 1o-ish months, and the reaction has been mixed. Some think it’s a great idea, others think it’s rude…

    …but you know what? It’s my and my guy’s decision and we’ll stand by it. So, OP, that’s what you really ought to do. Just stand by your word, and if someone brings a gift then just humbly say thank you (along with a, “You really… really… shouldn’t have!”), set it aside, open it later, and send a thank-you card.

  9. What happened with this? If it has happened how did you end up handling it? Personally I would have let my future mother in law know that grandma can be a bit cheeky and that if she feels uncomfortable she’s welcome to go for a walk/ refill a platter/ powder her nose to avoid that point in the shower. If she chooses to stay, maybe she’ll get a laugh and you can make make it out to all be a bit of a joke. If not, she can excuse herself and nobody will get their nose out of joint. Weddings come with a certain element of risqué and nudge nudge and I think it’s expected. As long as you don’t strip down, slip into the ‘something comfortable’ and mimic a pole dance on her floor lamp, she can maybe take it with a grain of salt?

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