Chances are your kid will attend dozens of birthday parties over the course of the next few years. At even $10 a pop for a gift, that can really add up. Now think of all the gifts that come into your own home for birthdays and other holidays. Picture at least half of that stuff eventually going into a landfill or to charity. Talk about a bunch of wasted money! So I’m proposing a radical idea: the No-Gift Birthday Party. You’ll have a lot less clean-up, and the other parents just might thank you. Try it just once and see what you think! Here are some ideas:
- Instead of giving your child a birthday gift or even a party, consider giving an experience. Ideas include: a trip to an indoor or outdoor play space, museum, amusement or water park, roller or ice skating rink, or house boat rental.
- For very young children, consider giving just one fun gift from you, and ask everyone else to gift money for a savings account. I know my babies were too young to care about gifts, but they sure are proud of the money they already have saved for their future.
- Ask guests to bring canned goods for a local food bank to the party. After cake, depending on the ages of the kids, caravan to the food bank so the kids and adults can help out for a couple of hours.
- Cook up some fun at a place where kids can cook. Businesses like this often offer birthday parties where kids can make their own pizza or decorate their own cake.
- Have a party at a cool place like a nature center and ask for donations. Jaime Perreca, mom of four, said, “More parents are saying ‘no gifts, please’ or are doing a donation thing. We went to a party last month at a nature center and were asked to donate money. Most families put in $10-20. The nature center was SO happy to have our donation.”
- Go to a shop where the kids can paint their own pottery creation, which is super fun. Then have cake and ice cream bars.
- Have a short and simple party at your house. All the kids can decorate their own mini cake or cupcake with all the fixin’s (colored frostings, sprinkles, candied toppings) after playing a variety of party games.
- Throw a party with an animal theme. Shari Fresorger, mom of Hunter, said, “We have done two no-gift parties because my son has a December birthday. First we did animal-themed Christmas ornaments, and gifts were donated to the local animal shelter. The second party … I ended up with a large SUV packed with supplies for the animal shelter. Lots of large bags of dog food, blankets, toys, and even checks to be donated in my son’s name.”
- Ask guests to bring an item from home or even a new book or toy for charity. Your child may get a kick out of taking donations to a local center that helps those in need.
- If you’re brave enough, give a slumber party a try. The kids can watch a movie, have some pizza, popcorn, cake and ice cream.
If you do it right, nobody will be thinking about presents at all. They’ll be too busy having fun!