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Ditch the Birthday Gifts and Give a Little

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Lara Shriftman: For the last 20 years, I have been planning events for Hollywood's top celebrities. And for the last two years, I have been attending and planning parties for my son, Lucas.


As a parent, you attend lots of birthday parties -- and are required to bring gifts. One suggestion for when you are throwing a party is to ask people to make a donation instead of bringing a present. It's a different and meaningful way to celebrate a special occasion.

Here are some simple ways to do it:

  • First, pick a charity. At my son's last birthday party, I asked guests to make an on-site minimum $10 donation to the Make a Wish Foundation of Southern Florida.

  • For kids' parties, it's great to support a charity that helps children. Donating to camp-scholarship programs and children's hospitals are two suggestions.

  • Ask guests to bring something to donate to charity (a new or like-new item). Nonprofit organizations that help families and the homeless are always in need of nonperishable food, clothes and toys. Set up boxes or bins by the door for guests to drop their donations into.

  • On your invitation, ask guests to make donations to your favorite charity and/or in memory of someone specific. Include a small insert that gives information about your charity and explains why you want to support that specific organization.

  • Here are some wording suggestions for your invitations:

  • "In lieu of gifts, Jessica and David ask that you make a donation on their behalf to The American Cancer Society."
  • "Melissa asks that you donate to the Cure Cancer Fund in honor of Louis G. Smith in lieu of bringing a birthday gift."
  • In memory of my grandmother, my family has established the Miller Campership Fund. If you wish to make a contribution on the occasion of my birthday, please send it to ...."

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    5 comments so far | Post a comment now
    michel koopman July 16, 2010, 8:37 PM

    Great article. Thanks for your support of Make-a-Wish. Many of us are so blessed and to use our own celebrations to bring strength, joy and hope to those who are less fortunate, is a wonderful thing!! Thanks again. Michel Koopman, Board Member, Make-a-Wish Southern Florida.

    Samantha Allen July 20, 2010, 5:35 PM

    For my daughter’s Birthday party, I took her and fifteen of her closest girlfriends to the local zoo. Instead of having each of them pay an entrance fee, I had them donate to the charity Polar Bears International, which helps fight global warming. Thank you so much for the great suggestion!

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