Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Birthday gifts?

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.....

11 comments:

momof3crazykids said...

My children haven't been invited to one that suggests no presents. Though I would be thrilled with the only gift card idea. I hate it when we bring something that they already have or gets double that day. I would much rather the child buy something that she wants.

i'm kelly said...

luckily, we haven't really gotten to this point yet. my kiddos are too little, we don't really "do" birthday parties yet. i'm definitely not looking forward to all this!

Melisa said...

I absolutely still buy presents, even if it's an adult having a birthday party! I think the gift card idea is a great one and not presumptuous at all. I think it's very thoughtful.

As for the parents who decide "no presents" or to donate presents without at least discussing it with the birthday kid first, ugh. That is something that kid will carry for the rest of his/her life.

Caution said...

I can't remember the last time we bought anything other than gift cards - and the dollar amount range always shocks me. I would LOVE to see someone here have the courage to try the no gifts or $10 limit. I suppose I could be the first in the neighborhood, but ...

P.S. Your gift package idea was fantastic!

scargosun said...

Soon parents will be regitering their kids' b-day parties.

IMHO, it should be up to the gift giver what they do. I have been to parties that are "your presence is present enough" but that was for like a 1 year old. Understandable. At 6 or 7, telling your kids all you gifts are being donated...correct me if I am wrong but isn't that what Joan Crawford did to her kids? It was in "Mommie Dearest." Maybe someone should mention that to these self-rightous women.

scargosun said...

The word was supposed to be 'register'

Don Mills Diva said...

We're so not at that stage yet but I agree that it's not fair to suggest people bring donations to charity without letting your child know or getting them to agree. It's their party isn't it?

I like the idea of seeting a price limit as long as you say "your presence is present enough but if you must bring a gift please keep it under $20 or something like that"

Buford Betty said...

You're definitely obliged to bring a gift to a *birthday* party - esp a kid's party. But as the host, you can't really "tell" people what or what not to bring. Either way it's in bad taste... I totally understand the giftcard thing and what they were trying to accomplish there, but there's just NO good way to do that w/o stepping on SOMEone's toes. And if you don't want gifts, don't throw a party! Some people revel in gift-giving (like me!) - so don't tell me not to do it! ;-) Can you tell I'm opinionated on this matter?! Hehehehe... :-)

KathyLikesPink said...

When Darling Daughter was in 6th grade, a boy's mother sent invitations to all the kids in the entire grade, inviting them to a party at the roller rink and asking instead of gifts to donate to a mission fund for their church.

While I admire the altruistic nature of it, it felt more like a fundraiser than anything. Darling Daughter wasn't interested so we didn't go.

But I do think the 'trying to out do each other' concept of kid's parties is terrible. I like the idea of the gift cards.

Queen Mommy said...

I have mixed feelings about it. I mean it is supposed to be fun for the kids and not all politically correct. The donation thing, yeah what kid do you know likes to voluntarily give their things away?

Karla with a K said...

Good topic, Sue.

I've read about the kids who've donated their gifts in the paper. And I've brought the subject up with my own, and no-one has been interested. Oh well. Going behind their back about it? What are you teaching them there?

I like that $10 limit gift card idea. Where do people put all this stuff when you have even 5 guests (= 5 gifts), never mind 10, or the whole class??!?! And does your child play with all this stuff? (I think we all know the answer to that.)

I also think the $10 limit was very reasonable for today's market. My kids get $20 gift cards from friends. I think it's the rare person who spends under $10, and if you need to spend only $5, then go ahead.

You found a lot of opinions out there on this one :)