Asking Birthday Party Guests To Donate To Charity Instead Of Buying Some Stupid Toy Is A Great Idea

birthday-presentsI used to think it was a horrible idea to decline gifts on a child’s birthday invite. The more I think about it, the more I realize it’s a fantastic idea. Asking for a small donation to charity in lieu of gifts is even better.

I saw this suggestion for a child’s invite, and I actually think it’s a wonderful idea:

On my kid’s (age 3) invites I write “Your presence is your present. Please do not feel compelled to bring gifts. If you really want to honor Lillian, please join us in donating to the Howard County Itty Bitty Kitty Committee, a charity that she is involved with.”


I doubt a three-year-old is “involved with” a charity — but I’m sure she loves kitties! Why not start early teaching our children what it is to give to causes they feel connected to? And in the process, you’ll probably save parents money, and you’ll definitely cut down on waste since there won’t be any wrapping of what will probably be some form of plastic toy. Have you seen the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? It’s horrifying. And it’s probably filled with discarded crap-toys from children’s birthday parties.

When I was a kid, there were two times a year you got presents — on your birthday and at Christmas. We were allowed to make a small list on each of those holidays and were taught to only expect to receive one of the things on the list. I didn’t have a room overflowing with toys, but I loved every, single one I had. I don’t know what everyone else’s house looks like, but mine looks like a toy store. And we don’t even buy a lot of gifts for the kids! They just seem to multiply. I appreciate friends and family giving us stuff, but I also realize that it’s not unreasonable to forego presents on birthdays anymore, because most kids just have so much more stuff than they used to.

If your kid is fortunate enough to have a house full of friends celebrating her birthday, do you really think she’ll miss the present ritual? Even better, what if the present ritual just stopped existing in your family? What if we went back to giving our children fewer things and in the process taught them how fortunate we are and how good it feels to give to people/organizations that are in need?

I like it. I like it a lot.

(photo: infografik/ Shutterstock)

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