In this weekend's Boston Globe, there was an article on birthday parties. Not your typical article on where the latest place to have a party is, or the greatest theme or the most sought after present. The article was about how Gen Y and Gen X-ers have decided that their kids have too much already. The parents in the article were saying that they don't want their kids to receive useless gifts that their kids will play with for a day and then discard. So what they have gone and done is a few different things. Some have parties and then donate all the presents somewhere, some say "your presence is present enough" on the invites, and some suggest that the families should donate money toward a charity instead of bringing a gift.
OK, I get that our kids have a lot. However, many of these parents were doing this to 6 and 7 year olds and NOT telling them. One birthday girl asked her mom why there were only a few presents at her party and the mom distracted her until the party was over and then told her. One kid was looking at all the cool stuff she had gotten as it was being donated to a shelter. So while the moms are doing these fabulous things with the gifts (without the consent of the kid), they are spending 4-500 dollars on the parties. Aren't they being a little hypocritical giving to the needy, but trying to outdo each other in extravagance of parties? In and outside of Boston, it has become the in thing to be able to say, "oh, we don't have presents at our party or we donated $300 worth of presents to the homeless shelter at her last birthday, etc..".
B went to a birthday party last month. The invitation said, "Because we are in the middle of moving out of our house for the summer and into a very small rental, please limit gifts to a $10 gift card. The birthday girl will enjoy going on a mini shopping spree either this summer or in the fall when we move back into our home." I thought this was a great idea. It is hard enough to pack up your house for the summer rental season without getting 15 new toys to find storage for. And, basically the mom was giving the parents an out.... "please don't go crazy and feel like you have to spend $25 on my child, compete for the cutest present, and wonder if the kid already has what you have picked out." My friend, however, took some shit for this. Some people thought it was presumptuous of her for assuming kids were going to bring a gift and some thought she shouldn't assume people would spend $10 on a gift. She told her daughter beforehand. At first A wasn't thrilled about the idea, but the more she thought about it, the more she liked it. She got a wide range of cards (all $10), but a few to the same stores so she could double up. Because things were crazy that week, I took the opportunity to try something I had read about in Family Fun magazine some time ago. B and I made a certificate for a playdate that would include, a pony ride (remember we have horses), mini golf and ice-cream. I had decided that that would give her something to look forward to and not be like a regular playdate, but a little more special.
So, how do you guys feel about all this birthday stuff? Do you still buy presents? Is it all about gift cards? Have you experienced a party where you are asked NOT to bring presents? Let's hear it.....