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Great Gift Idea: Gently Used Books

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Guest blogger Jessica Katz: More and more birthday invitations have arrived for my daughter, and they all include the same tagline: "No gifts, please." I was the first to send out invitations, so I had no idea that "no gifts" was the politically correct thing to do. During my daughter's bash, beautifully wrapped packages poured in our front door. Now I am asked not to return the favor!

woman carrying books
There are so many new etiquette rules, I can't keep up. We just received a thank-you card from someone who'd attended the birthday party. I had thought that I was the one who was supposed to send out thank-you cards! PIus, I was the only mommy not to mail out expensive holiday cards covered in our family photos. I had never done it before, and this was my first holiday as a mom ....

A mom friend with older kids gave me some great birthday-party-survival advice. Rather than asking for gifts, she has everyone bring a gently used book, unwrapped. At the end of the party, she has everyone take one of the books home with them as their party favor; in lieu of a birthday gift, her child keeps a book. Everyone was happy with this system -- until her daughter (age 5) recently started going to other birthday parties and noticed all the loot the other kids had received. But I guess the kid has come to terms with her mom's rule.

Books are beautiful gifts. They have a long shelf life, they're educational and they can be passed down. In fact, my mom just gave my daughter all of my 32-year-old Dr. Seuss books (she had been storing them all this time). So as long as we don't see 5-year-olds with Kindles, giving gently used books is a great way to be both politically correct and generous on a birthday.

next: I Love My New Water Filter!
10 comments so far | Post a comment now
viks December 29, 2010, 1:35 AM
Susie of Time2PartyNJ December 29, 2010, 1:21 PM

There is no child that would not want a a used book over a toy. Moms need to use your common sense! Birthday parties should be fun. My advise if you want to be politically correct, have your child donate one gift they recieve to a needy child.

Anonymous December 30, 2010, 3:15 AM

Yup, parties are supposed to be fun. Jessica knows that. She gabbles on about parties in her baby shower angst article and talks about all the stuff she NEEDS for her son. She knows that it’s fun to get presents, it’s just that she has certain ideas about who should get them.

Lucy December 30, 2010, 11:15 AM

Birthday parties should not have to be politically correct. Bring my kids presents, please. And I’ll bring your kids presents at their parties. If I want to donate books, I’ll do it at a different time. Why should the birthday boy/girl be made to feel guilty for wanting a toy on his/her special day???

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A really good set of info which I will be certainly coming back to read again. Thanks very much to all those who contribute.

Mikki Mikeska March 17, 2011, 9:08 AM

I’d come to give green light with you on this. Which is not something I usually do! I enjoy reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to speak my mind!

Cecil E. Werner March 31, 2011, 3:54 AM


Timothy O. Nolan April 8, 2011, 3:33 AM


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