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Happy No Gift Day to You

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Mom•Logic' s Jackie: For my son's 4th birthday, is it OK to forego the gifts?


When my son was a baby, a friend of mine mentioned she was going to put "no gifts" on the invitation for her child's first birthday. I thought that was totally wrong--her baby boy deserved to be celebrated and to deny him his gifts was just mean.

Flash forward a few years: I'm conflicted about the whole gift thing when it comes to my little guy's birthday. I think it's bad enough that between "friends" at preschool, the neighborhood and family friends--kids these days have birthday parties to attend every damn weekend--or so it feels anyway. But to expect the Moms of my son's classmates to run out and buy a present for my kid--who, by the way, the Mom barely even knows--it seems like asking a bit much.

Here's my plan: Close friends and family can absolutely share in the celebration with a gift, if they so choose. But I'm going to mention to those parents we barely even know that a donation to their favorite children's charity would be more than generous and truly appreciated.

Am I blazing a trail to changing the world or robbing my kid of his childhood?

next: Plush Toy Bait-and-Switch
12 comments so far | Post a comment now
mama_chita March 15, 2008, 3:26 PM

I think it’s a great idea, for the reasons you’ve mentioned above, and because lots of people have SO many toys already, and SO much clothes, etc.. I’ve decided to do this for my kids’ non-relative birthday-parties. I’ve wanted to do it now, for the ‘relative’ birthday parties, but it wouldn’t fly (everyone wants to buy gifts.) Also, it’s a nice way to teach kids about giving to others. For example, we could ‘pick’ a certain charity that means something special to us, and then mention that one, in case people have a hard time choosing one, or in case they want to pick one that is ‘personal’ to us. (Or they could choose their own, obviously.) I think it’s a great idea. Good luck :)

melanie March 15, 2008, 5:53 PM

Giving to charity is a good idea and I know that my child definatly does’nt need any more toys, but thats what kids look forward to on their birthdays. I would feel really bad to do something like that to my daughter. Another thing that you could to if you still want to show your child the kindness of giving is after their birthday have them give the toys they don’t play with anymore to less fortunate children to make room for the new ones. That way they are still giving but are able to recieve on their birthday also.

SugarPlumFairy March 15, 2008, 7:37 PM

Kudos to you for picking the charity option for your son. Kids must be taught unselfishness at an early age.

Anonymous March 16, 2008, 12:50 PM

Although I love the charity idea, I still think children like to give and receive gifts on birthdays. My kids have been to “grab only” parties where each guest is asked to bring a small ($5-10) grab in lieu of a gift. Each child experiences both giving and receiving and leaves happy. Enjoyable for all!

Sandra March 16, 2008, 8:51 PM

I think the charity way is a great way to go for a school friend’s party. My 5 yr old son is so excited to finally be reading like his big sister that in lieu of presents this year we are inviting guests to bring a children’s book that will then be donated to our school’s library. My daughter’s friend contacted our local SPCA to get a list of their organisation’s needs and then she asked her friend’s to bring blankets, pet beds, leashes, 6” raw-hide bones, treats etc… The party place where she held her party was so impressed by an 8yr old’s desire to to help out instead of receive gifts that they knocked $100 off their rental fee AND made a $100 cash donation to the SPCA on her behalf!

laura March 17, 2008, 10:16 AM

I love the no gift idea—keeps you from getting stuff you don’t want your kid to have, plus saves you the $$ you would spend on gifts for other children as well. Imagine the nice big donation you could make to a charity if you skipped gifts for all of those birthday parties your kids go to!

Suzi March 17, 2008, 11:24 AM

I think it’s a FANTASTIC idea and will steal it for my daughter’s next birthday. What a wonderful way to teach our children about giving, and thinking about others who have less. I’m so tired of watching kids open their presents with lightning speed and not even pay attention to what they are receiving and who it’s from.

Tara March 24, 2008, 5:01 PM

I think it’s a horrible idea, and unfair to the kids. Rather than worrying about having people you barely know having to purchase a gift for your child, why not stick to inviting people you and your child are close with. I don’t understand the need to have huge parties and invite an entire class of children your child doesn’t otherwise socialize with anyway… never got that.

Michelle August 19, 2008, 4:37 PM

Tara, i so agree. I mean its there special day of the year, let them get gifts! For my kids friends, gifts are 25.00 under. I mean 5-10 is well… cheap to me. She also never invites the whole class. She dosn’t want that many people, to much money is wasted on people she dont care for, is what she says. My friends kid gets toys birthday and xmas, or if he saves up the money. March 31, 2010, 10:47 PM

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