My boys' birthdays are coming up in a little over a month, and it's time to start thinking about planning a birthday party. They will be turning 6 and 3. Of course I want their party to be fun and special. The thing is, though, I really dread the PRESENTS! We live in a TINY house (I'm going to school and am very low income at the moment), and we are full to the brim. It seems like I go through a declutter process every month; it's such a struggle! So we just have no room for any more toys. (In addition, I'm trying to live naturally and have as little exposure to toxic chemicals as possible, so I try to avoid plastic toys. I hate the battery-powered toys--all the low-quality noise they produce, and idiotic flashing lights--but people only seem to get stuff that's low quality like that for kids these ages!)
So, I know it's rude, but I wish I could tell people when I invite them, "Don't buy them presents. More than likely I will just turn around and return the item or sell it." But of course, I won't say that. I wish I could just have a party and not get presents, but that would be like asking the wind not to blow. Present giving is such a deeply embedded part of our culture.
One thing I've thought of is setting up a crowd sourcing website, and asking people instead of giving gifts to contribute towards a high-cost item, like a push bike. Then I could get a single item that is more meaningful, rather than a bunch of crappy little items. How would you respond if you got an invitation like that? Would you feel like your contribution is marginalized? Or would it be fun? What else could I do??
This is such a great idea and saves you the money of party favors too :)
Single mama to DD 10/18/03 and DS 9/15/05
We're in a similar boat ourselves. The issue so far has been with my son. He's an atypical boy, in that he really doesn't like/play with typical boy toys - superheroes, trucks, etc. Fortunately, the majority of any birthday invitees have understood this and asked what to get him. :) This is coupled with a small-ish house that's full of toys. What I do most of the time (when it seems appropriate) is ask for experience gift certificates - Regal Cinemas gift cards, restaurant gift cards, etc. My son (he's almost 10 now) LOVES that he has his own $$ to spend to go out and do fun stuff and it's one less toy in our house. Win-win!
One of my daughter's friends is having a birthday party next month. She is asking instead of presents to donate to a local animal shelter that they adopted cats from and the invitation included a list of the supplies that the shelter is most in need of. It's things like cat food, cat toys, paper towels, business envelopes, etc.
mama to and and
I like the idea of the bigger purchase ... we did that for a bike trailer when our eldest was born.
We've always said 'no presents' and have suggested that people bring a Food Bank donation instead. It's worked well so far.
For our eldest's 4th birthday (when she was more aware about the culture of birthday parties and had been to a few) we offered her a choice of either a horse-drawn sleigh ride (just us) or a craft party with a few friends. She chose the horse-drawn sleigh ride (I knew she would, to be honest).
This year, we're going to Mexico for the month of her birthday, so we'll do a pinata there, just us.
For our second child, who is turning two next week, we're taking him swimming and not having a party. We'll have cake in the afternoon, and share it with neighbours, but with no notice, so no one brings a gift.
We have a small home and are very much more interested in our kids having experiences versus 'stuff' so we've been focused on no-gift birthdays for a while now!
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This is generally what happens in my neighborhood, and I really like it. There are 20+ kids who regularly play together in our neighborhood, and to invite all of them to a party, plus school friends, sports friends, family, etc. would just be too much. So typically while the kids are out riding bikes a mom might say, "Oh, btw, it's Sam's birthday today, here are some popsicles (or cupcakes, or whatever) to share. No warning, no expectations, no gifts. It's great!
"Toonie parties" are popular with my kids' friends. For the nonCanadians out there, a toonie is a two dollar coin. At a toonie party, each guest brings two toonies to give to the birthday child. The birthday child keeps one of the toonies to put towards whatever they are saving up for, and donates the other one to a charity of their choice. Everyone likes these parties - the birthday child gets to go shopping for whatever they have been wanting, the parents are happy not to be swamped with unwanted toys, and everyone enjoys the charity part of it.
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