Why I love this gift-free birthday party alternative | Wender Mind Kids

no-gift birthday party: diverse group of kids around birthday cake

You’ve probably heard of Fiver Parties – the latest birthday party trend. If not, here’s the gist: Instead of each guest bringing a piece of jewelry for the birthday boy, guests bring $5 so the birthday boy can combine the money to buy something they really want. It’s pretty awesome and parents have applauded it for the past few years. Well, if you love the fiver party trend, let me introduce you to this gift-free birthday party alternative: the gift-giving party.

We have been throwing parties in our family for a number of years and they are downright magical. Here’s how they work: Instead of asking guests to bring a fifth place or not mentioning gifts at all, ask guests to make a donation to an organization or charity of their choosing.

Related: The stress-free way to throw a kids’ party of five — according to an event planner

Our family started it when my youngest was around kindergarten. He wanted a big party with all his friends and I didn’t want anyone to feel left out so we decided to invite the whole class of about 20 kids. But what I didn’t want were 20 presents. My children have very generous grandparents, aunts and uncles; They definitely didn’t need any more presents and I was worried that if I smothered them with a mountain of toys they would all lose a bit of their sparkle.

Instead of downsizing the party, we asked our son to choose a charity he would like to give back to. We asked guests not to bring gifts, but knowing that this request is often ignored, we told them that if they really felt compelled to bring a gift, they could make a donation to the World Wildlife Fund (which is run by charity chosen by my son). .

It was a great success. My son had a great birthday with his friends, we avoided the gift mountain and the guests’ parents could either forgo the gift entirely or donate at the push of a button.

It was such a success that we did the same with my younger son. He chose the local homeless shelter to give back. We again told the guests that no gifts were necessary, but if they really felt obligated, please bring items for the local homeless shelter (my son’s chosen organization) such as socks, backpacks, toothpaste, toothbrushes and umbrellas.

Why you should consider a fundraiser

  1. It’s less stressful for the parents. There are no last-minute runs to Target for a piece of jewelry you’re not sure the birthday boy will like. The birthday boy’s parents don’t have a mountain of toys to find a home for. It’s a win-win situation.
  2. Children learn to give back. When asked to donate to a cause or charity close to their hearts, they learn from an early age that it is important to give back to the world around us.
  3. Children learn that experiences are more important than things. We reassured our children that spending time with their friends was the real gift of their birthday, not the toy they unwrapped (and then quickly tossed aside).
  4. It’s better for the environment. Fewer cheap toys means fewer toys taking up space in a landfill.
  5. No mess after birthday. I don’t know about you, but after almost every big birthday party comes that post-birthday angst fueled by all the toy stuff taking up space in our house. You can avoid all of this with a gift party.

How to throw a party

  1. Talk to your child about the reasons for a fundraiser. They may resist at first, but once they understand that they’re still going to have their special day (and get some gifts from grandma and grandpa), chances are they’re on board.
  2. Let your child choose the charitable organization they want to support. Some options are: a local animal rescue, a local homeless shelter, a local women’s shelter, CASA (court-ordered special advocate program for foster families), a children’s hospital, the zoo, the World Wildlife Fund, or a book collection.
  3. Call the organization in advance to ask if they have any special needs. Don’t make assumptions about what an organization needs; ask her instead. When my son donated to the local homeless shelter, I was surprised to learn that they needed umbrellas and backpacks. Cash is always welcome, but confirm how best you can make the donation (e.g., whether you prefer individual donations from guests or a lump sum donation).
  4. Communicate with guests and their parents. We used a simple statement like, “Your presence is gift enough, but if you would like to bring something, Teddy has asked for donations to the local homeless shelter.”
  5. Celebrate your contributions. If you receive a thank you from the organization that received the donation, share it with the guests.

Related: This little boy’s birthday parade with garbage truck will warm your heart

Birthdays are great. All those gifts? Not as much. With a give it away party, you avoid all those unnecessary gifts and can share the fun of the birthday party with others in your community.

Essays, parenting advice