Mom Defends Asking Guests at Daughter's Birthday to Bring $5 for Backyard Renovation in Lieu of Gifts (Exclusive)

The mom of two decided on an approach that made more sense for her family, but commenters slammed her decision

<p>Rachel Gibbs/TikTok; Stefania Pelfini/La Waziya Photography/Getty</p> Rachel Gibbs (left), stock image of a first birthday cake

Rachel Gibbs/TikTok; Stefania Pelfini/La Waziya Photography/Getty

Rachel Gibbs (left), stock image of a first birthday cake

A mom of two opened up about how she's doing things differently for her second baby's first birthday party and her approach raised some eyebrows online.

Rachel Gibbs, known on TikTok on @rachonlife, opened up about how she's handling her daughter's Harry Potter-themed first birthday party. A few of the decisions she made led to debate online, which was surprising for Gibbs and difficult for her to navigate.

First off, she decided to have just an hour-and-a-half-long party at 9:30 a.m.

"I don't want you at my house all day. I'm giving you your day. I do not expect you to sacrifice your entire Saturday for a child's birthday party who's not even gonna remember it," she explained.

"And the time? Please leave my house. My child needs to nap, and anybody who's coming to a 1-year-old's birthday party is already up at 9 30 a.m., or they can suck it up for one day because it's over at 11. You have your entire day."

Speaking with PEOPLE about her approach, Gibbs credits another birthday party with helping her shape her daughter's day.

"I actually stole the early time idea from a friend of mine who had her son's birthday at 9:30 a.m.," she shares. "All the kids were so pleasant, no naps were missed, and coffee and donuts were served."

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Gibbs noted that with her kids napping from the late morning into the early afternoon, the timing made sense to her.

"The birthday girl goes down for her nap at 11:00 a.m. and sleeps until around 1:30 p.m., and then our toddler takes his nap at 2 ... and if he doesn't nap? No thanks," she leveled.

The mom of two opted to serve morning snacks instead of a meal and said they would not be "doing games."

"For drinks we had coffee and a juice bar, Poppi sent us some delicious sodas, and we had boxed juice and milks for the kiddos, and for food, we had donuts, kolaches (it's a Texas/czech thing), and breakfast tacos!" Gibbs tells PEOPLE.

In her video, she concluded with arguably her most controversial point.

"I specifically, very clearly, put on the imitations 'Please, do not bring gifts,' " she said, explaining that she put a cute rhyme about her little girl being "far from a house elf" and needing nothing from her guests.

"And then I said, 'If you feel inclined to bring something, consider $5, because we're trying to remodel, redo our yard. Our backyard is a train wreck. Bring us five bucks to help us redo our backyard. That's what we're asking. But she does not need anything."

The mom admitted, "I am very picky. I don't want you to buy s— for my kids."

<p>vandervelden/Getty</p> Stock image of a five dollar bill in a person's jean pocket


Stock image of a five dollar bill in a person's jean pocket

Gibbs was surprised by the response to the video. Some commenters slammed her as "lazy" and "cheap," which she addressed in a follow-up video.

Tearfully, Gibbs said she would be "taking a little bit of a break from TikTok" after people called her "the s— mom on the planet" who "doesn't love Hazel."

"The 'lazy' comments I can't be surprised by," Gibbs admits to PEOPLE. "I'm a full time content creator, so I'm used to people always having an opinion. The 'cheap' comments surprised me. We wanted to have a party for our daughter but didn't want to spend tons of money. We also didn't want to obligate our friends into spending unnecessary money on toys, books, clothes or memberships ... because our kids have everything they could ever need (they both have 529s too!)."

When she did return to TikTok, Gibbs noted that she thought more people were familiar with the concept of "five-dollar parties" than appeared to be.

"This isn't just a tacky thing I put on an invitation. I am requesting that our friends and family come to my daughter's first birthday party and don't bring any gifts because we truly do not need anything," she leveled in her TikTok.

"We want to get this great playground and it's going to take some work," she noted. "So what I'm going to do is have a low-key thing. I'm not going to spend a ton of money on It because I don't want my friends and family to spend a ton of money. And it's not about spending a ton of money, it's about being together and getting the people that you love together and having a good time. I know that my kids are gonna have the best time."

Gibbs thinks that the concept, based in "southern hospitality," gets lost on others who parent and live differently. "I wanted to offer an alternative," she says.

"I have a bachelor's degree in Events Management, so I know how to throw a really good party, even if it's low-key and low-cost! To be honest, I've had a Pinterest board going for this party since before I had my daughter."

And, as the mom points out, "In the end, four people brought cash for a total of $50... so I'd say it was a success!"

The mom of two says she hopes people realize "there's no 'right' way to do anything when it comes to parenting. There's no rule book, and at some point, none of us have ever done this before. Even a mom of six is a first-time mom to that oldest child."

Gibbs believes social media has conditioned people to thinking "you have to go all-out when it comes to things like this."

"It's clear to me that there's a heavy load on parents' shoulders to 'get it right' because everything is documented now," she notes.

<p>Edwin Verhulst / 500px/Getty</p> Stock image of a birthday banner in a backyard

Edwin Verhulst / 500px/Getty

Stock image of a birthday banner in a backyard

As for her detractors, Gibbs chooses to focus on the community she's built from sharing life online and the things it has afforded her.

"I've made some amazing friends, in real life, from TikTok. I have found a community of over 200,000 people who want to hear what I have to say on the silliest and hardest and saddest and scariest and funniest parts of parenthood and life," she says.

"I'm able to live my life, to be a stay-at-home mom, because I share little glimpses into my world online — and it sounds simple when you put it that way, but sometimes that's what it feels like. It's an amazing platform to have, but it comes with a lot of responsibility."

She concludes, "I practice what I preach and I wear my heart on my shoulder, so when the 'wrong side' of TikTok gets ahold of a video, the attacks can be personal. Thankfully, I'm very well acquainted with the block button."

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