You’ve got a birthday coming up. You’re looking forward to the party, but maybe you’re worried about presents. Perhaps you have everything you need and don’t want people to get you anything. You’re thinking, “How to ask for money instead of gifts for your birthday?” and if asking this is possible.
If you’ve never done this before, then hesitation is natural. You don’t know if this is rude to ask or how people will react. And I understand your unease. Before we get to the steps for success, you need to first consider all the possible objections to your request.
Objections You Will Encounter
If you’re unsure how to ask for money instead of gifts for a birthday, you should be. I’ve known of friends who ask for money for birthdays. Almost always, their request is met with a frosty reception, for the following reasons:
1. People love giving gifts
That’s just a fact, whether that’s for birthdays, Christmas and other occasions. When someone chooses to give you a present, then it should be their choice to do so. They will have thought through what to get for you, then taken the time to find it.
Buying someone a present is special. Your friend or family member is making a statement about their love for you. You cannot deny them that.
2. A sense of entitlement
Even though it’s your birthday, you’re making the assumption that you’re entitled to presents just because it’s your birthday. Well, you’re not. You don’t have the right to ask other people what they should be doing with their money. You need to bear this in mind when wondering how to ask for money instead of gifts for your birthday.
Friends may also prefer to give you a small gift and not money. Gifts don’t have to be expensive to be a gift – or even bought with money. A friend once gave me homemade cupcakes for a birthday present, which was amazing to receive.
Others might choose to buy you lunch, invite you to dinner or buy you a beer, as your birthday present. Are you going to refuse their right to do that? It would be silly if you did.
3. You’re controlling what people should spend on you
Again, this goes back to entitlement. When people buy gifts, they get to control how much they want to spend on you. Every gift should be appreciated. When you start setting a certain price out of the gate, you’re going to risk pissing people off. In fact, they might not buy you anything at all.
4. People have budgets
You need to keep in mind people have bills to pay and may have set budgets when it comes to gift-buying. Finances may also be tight. You need to have this understanding before you begin wondering how to ask them for money instead of gifts for your birthday. You need to think about their financial circumstances. If you know certain individuals are under financial stress, you should not ask them at all.
Asking people for money is going to be intimidating for you. There’s no escaping this reality.
What To Do About Your Dilemma?
If you’re not sure how to ask for money instead of gifts for your birthday, then using one or all of the following will help you succeed.
Use an invitation card to make your request
The most polite way to ask is by doing so in writing. Get some nicely designed invitation cards and then write your request by hand. Make sure you communicate how you’re skipping gift-giving this year and explain why. You want to be transparent and tell people what you’re wanting this money for (you need to name this thing in your card). This leads to the next (and most important) point.
Let people know how you’re spending the money
If you want to ask people for a cash gift, you need to make sure the money is going towards something of tangible value to you. And something that your gift-bearer can see the results of.
You need to be clear with your request. You want to avoid being a) rude about not wanting to disclose your plans and b) give people the impression you’re going to spend their money recklessly.
If you’re saving up for a mountain bike, for example, or for a well-earned weekend break (because of burnout or overwork), and you’d like a friend to make a contribution towards that, then that’s the right direction to be headed in.
Alternatively, you might be asking for money in order to make donation to a favourite charity or cause.
If you’re going in wondering how to ask for money instead of gifts, for your birthday, and not disclosing the reasons why, then don’t do it. Don’t risk your friendships by behaving like that.
Friends will want to feel you’re asking for money with the right intentions behind it. They don’t want to feel you’re bumming them for cash just to spend it on something random.
Be modest about your gift
Don’t be greedy with your request. If you’ve read through the obstacles above, you will know a monetary request requires sensitivity. You should be grateful for whatever gift you receive, whether big or small. It’s the thought behind it that counts.
People will still prefer to get you a gift
Yes, you’re going to ask for money, but keep in mind this may come across as wishful thinking.
If people have the choice between gifting money or an actual present, they will always go for the latter. And if they do that, be polite and gracious. Some people are just more comfortable with buying you a gift, and you need to let them have that.
Ask for gift cards
Consider asking for gift cards instead of money. Friends who are more comfortable giving gifts will feel more comfortable giving you money, if they know where it’s going – and a gift card satisfies both points.
You can provide a list of your favourite outlets with your invitation card, so people will know where they can buy, e.g. favourite store, restaurant, charity, etc. Also let your friends pick their own place for a gift voucher.
If you’re requesting money for a good cause, then this idea is perfect for you. The money friends can bring is split 50/50. You the birthday host organises the party and asks your friends to make a monetary contribution. Half goes into helping fund the food and drinks, and the other half is a donation to a charity on your behalf.
If you’ve read this entire post, and you’re still unsure how to ask for money instead of gifts for your birthday at this stage, my answer is: don’t do it and accept a gift OR ask for a gift card.
The most important thing about birthdays is letting your friends celebrate your special day with you, however they want. Good luck with whatever you decide.