Whenever you’re planning to host a birthday party or any other type of celebration, it’s likely that your guests may want to carry gifts with them.
If you prefer to choose your own gifts, you should ask for a gift card.
Place your request at the bottom of the invitation or bring it up in conversation when the opportunity arises, e.g., “Your presence is enough, and you don’t have to give a gift. However, if you do, we would appreciate a gift card from a store of your choice.”
A gift is never compulsory. People give from their hearts, expecting that their present will enrich your life in some way. Research has shown that when people give gifts, thoughtfulness is the most important factor. 
The financial value of the gift really doesn’t matter. If you’re requesting gift cards, be sure that it’s understood that any denomination will be meaningful to you. Don’t ever state that a gift card must be within a certain price range.
Most people already expect to bring a gift when they are attending celebrations such as wedding anniversaries or graduation parties. You don’t need to feel uncomfortable about discussing the type of gift that you would enjoy the most and can approach the topic directly in your invitation.
If you really don’t wish to mention the gift in the body of your invitation, you can place it towards the end, as a footnote.
If your invitation is printed, you can use small print to express your wishes. Ensure that the font chosen is interesting so that it still easily catches the eye.
You could say:
“We prefer gift cards to physical gifts for our baby shower. Thanks for your kind consideration.”
“We’re blessed just to have you with us to celebrate this special day. However, if you also wish to give a gift, a gift card from your preferred store will be much appreciated.”
“Thank you for taking the time to celebrate with us. If you also wish to present us with a special memento, gift cards are our ideal present for this special occasion.”
“Your presence is sufficient, and you are not required to present a gift. If you do, we appreciate a gift card to a store of your choice.”
Many of your guests would like to give you a gift as a token of support. However, they may also not have the time to shop around for the perfect present. Gift cards are much more convenient than physical gifts, allowing them to save time while still giving you the option of selecting something that you would appreciate.
If a busy friend has already asked what you would like as a gift, you could make sure that their invitation includes a statement such as:
“I know you’re too busy to shop and a gift card from my favorite beauty store would be great.”
“You’ve mentioned that you want to get me something to celebrate. I know you don’t have time to shop around and I would love a gift card for my favorite restaurant.”
“You don’t have to get me a physical gift but if you really want to, any gift card of your choice would be appreciated.”
Gift cards are ideal because they can be placed within a greeting card. There is a discreet way for friends and family to give you a special gift without letting everyone know exactly what they’ve given if they so desire. Some family members who may wish to give you something more expensive may be glad for the opportunity to provide it via a gift card since this method prevents them from seeming ostentatious.
Even family members and friends who are far away and may be attending your event virtually can participate in gift-giving if gift cards are being used. Digital gift cards can be shared over the phone and even through popular digital channels.
Guests who are attending your celebration virtually can simply take a picture of the card and even email you the relevant details. If everyone is giving you the same type of gift, no one will feel excluded if they’re unable to be there in person with a huge, wrapped present.
You can emphasize the convenience of using gift cards in your invitation. Your request can also be worded so that patrons understand how much you appreciate being able to choose something that you’ll really enjoy with their gift card.
You could say:
“Please don’t feel that you have to shop around for a physical gift. A gift card will do.”
“We know that you’re busy and may not have time to shop. We would appreciate a gift card instead of a physical gift.”
“Electronic and traditional gift cards are convenient and I will appreciate them more than physical gifts.”
Using a little humor would lighten the moment and make guests more comfortable with giving you the type of gift that you prefer. State your wishes in a way that puts them at ease, by saying:
“I love video games. The perfect gift for me would be a Steam gift card.”
“Baked treats are my delight. Please include a gift card from your favorite bakery as my special gift.”
“We’re moving into our new home but the work isn’t done yet. A gift card for any hardware store would be the perfect housewarming present.”
Throw a Party with a Related Theme
It’s sometimes easier to ask for gift cards if your party has a matching theme. For example, if you’re planning to move and your party is to celebrate that move, your theme could be Travel Light. Gift cards would match this theme because they’re lightweight and your guests won’t have to carry any heavy gifts.
You could emphasize the theme and request gift cards as a part of that theme in your invitation. You could say:
“The theme of my party will be Taco Night. If you’re considering a gift, I would really appreciate a gift card that matches this theme.”
“Your presence at my postgraduate acceptance party is enough However, if you also wish to carry a gift I would appreciate a gift card matching the theme of Back To School.”
“I would love to have you there to celebrate with me as I move into my new home. If you’re considering a gift, please carry a gift card that matches the theme Kitchen Fiesta.”
Ask for Experiences
If you want a gift card but you don’t want to do a lot of explaining to your guests, you could simply ask for experiences instead of tangible gifts.
Most experiences automatically come with a gift card.
For example, if you would like to have a spa day that would normally be given as a gift card. Similarly, a night out at your favorite restaurant would also be given in the form of a gift card.
You can ask for treasured experiences in the following ways:
“If you really want to get me something memorable, I prefer a gift card for a spa day.”
“I don’t really want material things but if you want to give me a memorable present I would appreciate a gift card for my favorite restaurant.”
“Just spending time with you is cool. I don’t need a tangible gift because I’ve learned to treasure quiet moments more. If you wish to get me a gift I would love a gift card for a day at my favorite adventure park.”
Say it in the Form of a Wishlist
Some of your guests will be delighted to help you tick off an item on a bucket list. Likewise, others will definitely give you a gift card if they know that it’s for something you really desire.
The idea of giving something related to your wishlist is not unique to individuals. Even nonprofits frequently speak about their own wish list so that individuals who wish to volunteer or give in other ways can do so.
Linking the gift card to a wish list helps the giver to feel that they are making a lasting impact on your life. If something has been a lifelong dream, the gift card will be linked to an important stage of development and most people want their gift to be remembered.
You could state that there are particular items you would like to have and suggest that you be given a gift card for those items. You can explain that you would actually like to choose the brand and such yourself.
In your invitation, simply state that there are a few things you always wanted to do on your bucket list. State clearly what they are and then ask for gift cards for anything that can help you to realize your dreams.
You can make a request by saying:
“I would love to go camping but don’t have any gear. This has always been a lifelong dream and I would appreciate gift cards that help me to fulfill it.”
“I’m planning to improve my fitness as you know. I don’t want tangible gifts but I would appreciate gift cards that help me to achieve that goal.”
“We would love to have date nights more often, whether that’s at home or in an outdoor setting. We would appreciate gift cards that help us with that dream.”
Sophie Hammond is a journalist, psychologist, and freelance speechwriter for people in politics and business. She lives on the edge of the Rocky Mountains with her dog and a lifetime supply of books. When she’s not writing, she can be found wandering through nature or journaling at a coffee shop.