My Birthday Party Protest

First I should make clear that I’m not against Birthday parties. I like birthday parties. I like that my kids would rather have a birthday party than something material. And yes, at 14 & 17, my big kids still want the party! (my little one, who’s ever only had one birthday party [that I know of, but am pretty sure of!] wants parties too!)

My protest is against presents.

I first said “no presents” on an invitation when my 17 yr old was turning 4. Jasmine was 6 when she realized it, & she never had a problem with it. What she DID have a problem with, was when Ponyboy was turning 3 & I wrote “no presents” on his invitations. She was worried for him that he would be sad. And although at 3 he wasn’t aware, it’s been Ponyboy who’s been less enthusiastic about “no presents”.

In the early years of my policy, almost no one followed it. I think everyone is worried that they will be the Only One to show up without one. So after a few years, I started telling the parents “no presents please”. Still they brought presents. Finally, instead of just writing “no presents” on the invite, I had to change it to “please no presents, we will NOT be opening gifts”. That was more effective.

I don’t know about You, but when my kids get presents that they (or I) don’t appreciate I feel SO GUILTY! I’ll find it 6 months down the road, unopened, & feel bad that some mom had to take time out of her day to shop for a kid she barely knew & spend $$ on him, & he didn’t really appreciate it!! The other side of the coin is I don’t want to be the mom shopping for a kid who’s interests I don’t know & buy something (it feels like an Entrance Fee sometimes) so my kid can go to a party!

Instead of a pile of loot, I try to promote the concept of the Birthday child being the Host of a fun day. Ponyboy just turned 14 and had night games at the park with pizza & soda. They played football, frisbee, ect for 4 hours, everyone thought he was cool, & everyone had fun doing something they don’t usually do. And it’s because HE was the host. (still, about 3 kids brought a gift.)

When I talk to other moms, they often agree with me…but I can’t think if I ever have gotten an invite saying “no gifts”… So I would love to know what others REALLY think?


About tycobeans
I'm a mom of 3, two bio teens & a little princess from Ethiopia. We have lived all over, but are now settled in Utah. Mostly I'll be sharing about our family life, I hope I have something to say that you enjoy!

8 Responses to My Birthday Party Protest

  1. ranton2011 says:

    What I really think is that is an amazing concept! Perhaps, and this is just a suggestion -you could maybe include on a written invitation, something to the effect of- in lieu of gifts we request that a a donation be made to______or let them pick or ask for non perishable food and donate it perhaps to a food pantry. Make the invite yourself and center the theme of the invite (and the party if you want) around it maybe? I am sure you are clever enough with all the amazing software available to make an invitation on a computer. Or ask a tech oriented friend for help? But what a great and selfless lesson to teach not only your children, but the invitees as well!

  2. tycobeans says:

    One year Jasmine did that for the animal shelter & had a “pet” themed party…uh, you must not know me very well, thinking I’m all comp-literate! For a while we had an annual Christmas party & did donations…Quarters for Christmas (went to shoes for the homeless), another time we did a glove drive for the homeless shelter. Thanks!

  3. Dovess says:

    Lovin this…

  4. Cutey says:

    I always feel like I need to bring a gift because I know someone is spending a lot of time and usually money on the party that my child has been invited to enjoy. I feel like my present is a small way that I can repay them for all the effort they went into.

  5. megamom says:

    I feel the exact same way! I usually just give kids a small amount of money instead. It’s still a gift, I would have spent money on something anyway, and now they choose. Either save it or spend it on something they actually want. Tacky? Maybe. But I don’t really care. I haven’t heard a complaint yet 🙂 I’ve thrown b-day parties for my kids and asked repeatedly for “no gifts” but no one ever complies with that request. Last December I threw a b-day party for our 10 year old and we asked for a food donation item for the food bank instead. That request was honored!! The boys had fun hauling in their food and watch it pile up. My ten year old accompanied me when we donated it to the food bank. When I told them where our donation had come from, we were invited in and watched the scale to see how much it added up to. My 10 year old was impressed by the amount. The guy at the food bank thanked us. It was an awesome experience. He never missed the gifts!

  6. nancy says:

    A comment about “Presence, not presents,” might help.Also, a home-made card would be appreciated. When my kids were little they gave presents on their birthday.

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