Bethany Sanders: I want my daughter to appreciate the value of a good gift. My solution? No gifts at all.
• Create a family/friend dividing line. Family can give gifts, but "friend" parties are just for fun.
• In lieu of gifts, ask friends to donate to a charity of your child's choice, or to bring a favorite book to be given to your local library, shelter or literacy council.
• Ask friends to bring a smile, their presence (not their presents!) or a birthday wish for your child. Seeds for a garden or photos of friends together are nice, too.
• Remind family members that your child's college savings account needs a donation more than your child needs yet another stuffed animal.
• Be a good role model. Buy one coveted item to unwrap, or give the gift of experience
-- a small vacation, a class, a one-on-one day with Mom or Dad.
There are lessons to be learned in gift-giving. Children learn to really think about another person when they're asked to choose a gift; recipients learn how to be gracious when receiving a gift. Children do deserve (at least now and then) the sheer joy of staring into a pile of presents and knowing it's all for them. But even in today's consumer-driven culture, we can teach them limits without spoiling the fun.
My 7-year-old did end up inviting her entire class to her birthday party, which we held at a local sledding hill. Afterward, just our family joined us at our house for presents and cake. She never missed the presents from her friends and went to bed one happy kid.
How do you feel about no-gift birthday parties?
|Bethany Sanders is a teacher turned stay-at-home mom of two living in the Midwest. Her musings on parenthood can also be found at Strollerderby and Savvy Source.|