QandSomeone'sA: Birthday present etiquette

What do we do about "No gifts please" birthday parties?

I mean, for kids who are old enough to really know the difference, like, say, age 4 on up.

I was in this situation a few months ago, in which the invitation said "No gifts please," but my son reeeeeeally wanted to bring a gift (he had something very specific in mind), so we brought it, but then some other moms at the party expressed trepidation to me that they hadn't brought anything. And then I got a question from someone who wanted to know if "No gifts please" really means no gifts, or if it's just a courtesy statement.

I do think it's cultural. In NYC it seems to be a little bit of a courtesy statement or even a brag to say "No gifts please." Having said that, I do think I contributed to other parents' stress by bringing a gift, so it was a little assy. Except for the fact that the gift cost $6 and my son reeeeeeally wanted to give it. So maybe it was just a well-intentioned assy.

What's the scoop where you life? Do you bring a gift to a "no gifts please" party?

Bonus question: Do you think less of people who *don't* have a "No gifts only" party? It almost seems likea badge of (false) piety here, but it might be more literal in other places.