A Birthday Party Without Presents?
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    Posting Addict Spacers's Avatar
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    Default A Birthday Party Without Presents?

    As I was planning my daughter?s 6th birthday, I had to ask myself why so many of us continue to throw big parties complete with an enormous pile of presents. I recognize that the parties are large to avoid hurt feelings, but can we agree that the amount of presents the kids receive as a result is objectionably over the top?
    I?m not against the idea of gifts as a rule. It?s wonderfully celebratory to open some beautifully wrapped presents that someone took the time to choose. But when parents feel pressured to invite the whole class, we are talking about 20 or so gifts. I don?t think a birthday is more memorable for our children because of that seventh, tenth, or 18th present. It?s the law of diminishing returns. Certainly receiving 14 new Barbies is no more joyful than receiving, say, four.

    It was in this spirit that I decided I?d write ?No Gifts? on Rebecca?s birthday invitation or ask for a donation to a good cause in lieu of a gift.

    It came as no surprise that Rebecca was considerably less enthused. Having spent many Sundays of her life attending the aforementioned big parties with the aforementioned piles of presents, she wasn?t about to relinquish her turn so easily.

    I had to admit that I could feel Rebecca?s ?pain.? Do I, mother of four children, not spend ungodly amounts of time and money picking out gifts for other people?s children? Should my children not enjoy the same bonanza no matter how excessive and unnecessary I find the whole thing?

    Curious how other families deal with this issue, I put the following question on Facebook: ?Do you do gifts or donations for kids? B-day parties? Leaning towards donations (books and crayons for the hospital, etc.) now that parties are getting bigger in the effort not to hurt feelings. Not loving the excess of gifts and the message to these kids who need NOTHING.?

    The volume and thoughtfulness of the responses I received was astounding. Some parents discussed how they avoid the mountain of gifts by organizing a book swap, or asking for an easy donation liked canned goods so that already-busy parents do not need to run around looking for items to contribute. Others told stories of the birthday child collecting new socks, pajamas, or crayons to deliver to children in need. And still more parents mentioned that ?in lieu of gifts? they asked families to make a donation to a specific cause, or they left the decision of where the money should go up to the invitee.

    There is also, of course, the option to write nothing more than ?No Gifts please,? which several people said was less presumptuous and self-righteous than asking for a contribution or a swap of any kind.

    Presumptious and self-righteous? Now I had to rethink the whole ?in lieu of gifts? concept. Several of my Facebook friends made other points I couldn?t ignore. Did every part of our child?s year have to become a ?teachable moment,? or a chance to prove a point? Wasn?t a birthday as good of an excuse as any for pure, needless fun? Some insisted that if the child cannot understand what?s happening as well as participate in the mitzvah such as delivering the coloring books to the children in need, then the whole concept was too abstract.
    I also got the feeling that this whole ?No Gifts? trend is making people who allow gifts feel bad about participating in an admittedly excessive, but regular cultural norm.

    So, Kveller readers, what do you think? If you allow the kids to get a pile of gifts from their classmates are you a big grubber creating little grubbers? On the flip side, if you ask for donations, are you a presumptuous, self-righteous stick in the mud raining all over the birthday parade?

    How does your family and the families of your kids? friends handle the birthday gift issue?
    I'm asking the same questions that are bolded.

    A Birthday Party Without Presents? | Raising Kvell
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    Posting Addict GloriaInTX's Avatar
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    We just do the normal birthday thing. The only time my kids get gifts are twice a year for birthday and Christmas, so I don't really think it is going to spoil them to get a few gifts. I don't normally just buy them stuff throughout the year.
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    Part of the reason we don't have big birthday parties with tons of kids is because of the gifts. I also want my kids to invite their friends, not the whole class or the whole grade.

    That said, a few years ago one of the kids in a family we know did Toys For Tots donations instead of gifts and everyone thought it was lovely.
    Laurie, mom to:
    Nathaniel ( 10 ) and Juliet ( 7 )




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    Posting Addict GloriaInTX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by freddieflounder101 View Post
    Part of the reason we don't have big birthday parties with tons of kids is because of the gifts. I also want my kids to invite their friends, not the whole class or the whole grade.
    We don't usually have huge birthday parties either, usually invite around 10 and 5 or 6 show up.
    Mom to Lee, Jake, Brandon, Rocco
    Stepmom to Ryan, Regan, Braden, Baley
    Granddaughters Kylie 10/18/2010 & Aleya 4/22/2013


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    Quote Originally Posted by GloriaInTX View Post
    We don't usually have huge birthday parties either, usually invite around 10 and 5 or 6 show up.
    We usually invite about 15 too, usually most of them make it!
    Laurie, mom to:
    Nathaniel ( 10 ) and Juliet ( 7 )




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    Posting Addict ange84's Avatar
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    I had a small gathering for my DS's birthday just because there is way too much cake for 2 adults and a 2 year old otherwise. I wasn't looking for any gifts, but everyone bought something, thankfully all books. I do the same for [parties he is invited to, buy some books for the child.

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    Posting Addict Spacers's Avatar
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    Tiven seems to be friends with pretty much every kid in her grade, for better or worse; even limiting it to just her class or just the girls there is at least 20. I always request no gifts, but handmade cards are OK if they don't want to come empty-handed. I don't want all the crap that passes as birthday gifts times twenty, and not even times five or six!

    And I do the same when she is invited to birthday parties, I have her make a nice heartfelt card as her gift. I absolutely don't want to try to find a real gift, or spend the money on them, for every single kid who invites her to a party. I do like the idea of a used book exchange but the one time that someone did that for a party, Tiven didn't want to give up any of her books so I ended up having to buy one anyway, so that's not an idea I support anymore. Just call me the Party Scrooge.
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    Community Host Alissa_Sal's Avatar
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    For the past 3 years we have done big birthday parties....and to be honest, I think I am about done with them. LOL The whole "kid birthday party" thing has gotten so over the top. You have to have entertainment (last year we hired a freaking pirate!) and goody bags, and like 20 kids....sheesh. I'm over it. I think this year I'm going to have T invite his two best friends and take them to Chuck E Cheese or something. No more big parties for a while.

    The gift thing doesn't even bother me as much as the idea of expense behind the whole thing, like you have to go all out because that is what is de riguer. Enough all ready!
    -Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)

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    Posting Addict Spacers's Avatar
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    Oh, don't get my started on goodie bags! I don't do them, and I don't take them home with me from other parties, either. I really don't feel the need to have a party at all. Last year we took a friend camping with us. A couple of years ago we took two sets of siblings to dinner for make-your-own pizza night. Weston's birthday this year, we let him choose what to make for dinner! But when I do throw a party, I invite everyone.
    David Letterman is retiring. Such great memories of watching him over the past thirty-two years!

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    A good friend of mine has a child the same age as Alyssa. She goes to private school. She is expected to go to every kid in the classes birthday and bring a gift. I think that would be difficult. I do go to birthday parties for the other kids at church and bring gifts. For my girls, I did big birthday parties for their first birthday. For later birthdays some years we have done small parties, other years something different. This year for Alyssa (7) she had 2 little friends come, spend the night, and have a little party. My younger girls were included in everything. For Brianna (5) we bought tickets to the circus. They had a wonderful time (Just our family) I made a circus cake and we had a few gifts for her. For Caitlyn's (3) birthday we bought tickets to Disney On Ice. I also made a cake and had a few presents for her. I think each girls was happy with their birthday this year.

    ~Bonita~

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