My sister has a control problem, which has lately come to manifest itself in the form of dictating what people may and may not give to my nephew for various occasions. For his first Christmas (he was only three months old) she requested no gifts at all. I think most people understood the nature of this request even if it took them by surprise. For his first birthday, she instructed "no gifts" but asked that everyone create a "memory book page" with a picture of themselves and a memory they wanted to share with my nephew....which he would be given at his high school graduation. I think this is a nice idea, but many people chose not to participate and instead brought a gift, or brought nothing. This upset my sister a great deal and now she says she is not even going to make a memory book because of "low participation."
Now my nephew is four and he will be attending a "day camp" starting in spring - kind of a pre-school experience with a nature/outdoors theme. On his birthday invitations this year my sister specified "no gifts please" BUT that if we HAD to bring him something, that it please be something he needed for day camp...followed by a list of items.
Is this type of thing common? It strikes me as very odd (and kinda tacky), and I have tried to ask her if she thinks it is really worth the effort to try and exert control over what people buy for my nephew and her reply is that she feels like she is being very helpful. In reality I think she just does not want to be overwhelmed with toys, clothes, and other things she considers clutter.
(For my part, I am giving him a card and taking him for ice cream on his birthday. I don't want to buy him anything "unauthorized" but I also hate being dictated to.)