My child has so much gear! Her birthday is coming up and I really don't want her getting another mountain of presents. Any ideas?
You're not alone! Lots of parents are opting out of birthday gifts at their kids' parties for several reasons: They don't think their kids need any more possessions, they want to limit the extravagance of the party, or they want to teach their children a philanthropic lesson that includes everyone.
Unfortunately, it's not always as easy as just requesting "NO GIFTS" on a kid's party invitation. There are always a few guests who will still bring them because it is so ingrained in society to do so. When they meet up at the party, it can be awkward when some guests abide by the request and others don't! You can imagine the scene.
But there are other ways to achieve the same goal. One idea is to limit the size of the gifts, provide a price limit for the party gift and reiterate this on the RSVP phone call as well. As an example, you can write, "Gifts under $5 would be greatly appreciated."
Alternatively, if you are looking for ways to include everyone in the giving and receiving at the party, and/or to instill a philanthropic lesson in gift giving, check out the following ideas:
- Hold a book exchange. Each guest brings a wrapped gift and everyone gets to open a gift and take a new book home.
- Give your child an "experience" rather than a party. Ideas include a trip to an amusement park or to a bowling alley or rock climbing. Let the outing itself be the birthday gift. Instead of inviting an entire group of children for a party on this outing, invite only a few and let them know that their presence is the gift.
- Ask for presents appropriate for kids in the hospital. The birthday child can deliver the gifts to the hospital after the party.
- Hold an inexpensive gift exchange (under $10) so that everyone receives a gift. When gift time arrives, have the children sit in a circle and each pull an item from the container.
- Request art supplies and donate them to a shelter or school.
- Request a donation to a charitable organization that is particularly meaningful to your child.
- Contact a favorite local charity and ask for a Wish List, i.e., a list of stuff the organization really needs. As an example, the Humane Society may need leashes, collars, toys, etc. for their shelter animals. Request that guests bring these items to donate in lieu of birthday gifts, and make wishes come true!
If you decide to allow guests to bring gifts to the party, there are also ways to limit your child's gear after the fact:
- Have your child choose which of her gifts she'll donate to charity. A good rule of thumb is to encourage her to donate as many gifts as the age she's turning (so a 6-year-old could choose six of her gifts to donate to kids in need).
- Have her donate her existing toys to charity and replace them with her new ones. If she receives 10 new toys as birthday gifts, you might suggest she choose 10 of her old toys to donate to charity.
Giftless parties are a great way to limit the amount of stuff your child has, cut down on the clutter in your house and teach your kids about philanthropy at the same time. And believe me, they are just as much fun as parties with piles of presents! Have fun!