Friday, July 27, 2007

Avoiding Kid Birthday Party Excess: No Birthday Gifts

Well, here’s one way to prevent a mountain of toys from invading your house each time one of your children’s birthdays comes ‘round the bend: Ask the invitees to your kid’s party to forgo the gifts and to instead make a donation to a charity.

That’s the premise of the article in the New York Times which highlights a growing movement of no-gift kids’ birthday parties where the parents help their children give their guests’ monetary and other donations to various charitable organizations.

But the idea isn’t roundly embraced. For example, Judith Martin (aka — Miss Manners) suggested that parents get together and agree to give very small, inexpensive gifts at children’s birthday parties saying, “People seem to forget that you can’t spend other people’s money, even for a good cause . . . Do you really want the birthday child to grow up hating philanthropy because it’s done him out of his birthday presents?”

‘Tis an intriguing idea and I definitely wouldn’t want to put the kibosh on it. But when it comes to my three kids’ birthdays –- all in the next few weeks — I’m personally in favor of small, inexpensive presents. (The whoopee cushions they got over their vacation at Cape Cod -– which cost 99 cents -– brought loads of laughter.) But, at the same time, The Spouse and I do teach our children about charitable donations throughout the year and, as a family, give to a variety of causes.

What say you all on this no-gift kid birthday party concept?

UPDATE: For a snarky take on this, see the Gawker web site.

(Image from the New York Times.)


Catherine said...

Our kids are coming up on their 4th & 2nd birthdays. The soon to be two yo won't be having a party. She doesn't need one. She isn't old enough to ask for one. A large part of the reason: we're full up on toys. The soon to be 4 yo will have a small party with his little sister and three more kids. He's already listing what he'll need to get at that party. Little does he know that mommy has connections. I'm friends with the other moms and will ask, blatantly, that they not go over-board with gifts. I can't tell them to give their money to charity, but I can ask them to keep their gift giving small.

And what's up with the party favors these days? Do we really need a whistle and a pencil and crayons and an action-figure and... how about just a thank you note?

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Denise Burks said...

I found your post from 2007 but I believe that the topic is still one that we are wrestling with. Over several years of experimenting we now have a "thing." We ask for treats for the animal friends at the local humane society. I write about our experiences trying to fit into our suburban neighborhood here:

Love your writing style!

Denise Burks