That’s how my daughter, just turned 8, invited her friends over. We had braced ourselves for protests from the invitees’ parents and sure enough the intercom never stopped ringing that day.
“A birthday party without gifts? Please Sharon, don’t force your opinions on your child.”
“but she is a child, which kid doesn’t like presents on their birthday?”,
“wow, you are inculcating such good values in your child, we admire you”
“…but please don’t give the other kids return gifts then, if you don’t want presents”,
So why really, did we as a family, decide on a party without gifts? Let me start with the birthday girl’s points of view.
Reason #1 – We had also recently participated in a “give-away old things to the more needy” drive. My daughter got a first-hand experience at seeing the stuff that kids who don’t have much make do with.
Reason #2 – We follow a loose policy of “get something new, let go of something old” in our home – like I said, it’s a loose guideline, and giving away is never forced, always voluntary. So every birthday, my daughter gives away a few things after she opens her new birthday gifts. This year, my daughter decided that she loved all her current playthings too much, to give anything away.
Reason #3– She is still reeling from her Christmas loot. We head to our roots every Christmas, and the kids have tons of gifts under the tree courtesy the aunt, uncle and grandparent Santas. Xmas 2013 was especially bountiful, with some “extra” Santas around, and therefore, it was much easier to say “no presents, please” this birthday.
Reason #4 – it would not completely be a “no present” birthday. She was getting that coveted new bicycle, an art and craft business of her own (yes!), her own email id, and gifts
I will admit I was the one who hesitantly put forth the no-presents idea. So when the daughter accepted it for the above reasons, we as parents were both thrilled and proud. The benefits for parents, you wonder?
- Birthdays are always awful for the “other” sibling. In this case, sibling envy is ruled out.
- No keeping tabs of who gave what so that we can “return appropriately” (yes, we hate to admit it, but don’t we all surreptitiously do it?)
- A mess-free post-party home. Last year, after her birthday, we took days to find space for her new presents. Until they found proper shelf-space, they were stacked on the upper bunk of her bed for weeks! Speaking of messes, you are actually doing your bit to save the environment – think of all the glossy wrapping paper you avoided
It was time for the party, and there were many sweet surprises. Children walked in with lovely hand-made cards, small bars of chocolate and big smiles! It was so wonderful!
It was a birthday party like the good old days – homemade cake and food, old-fashioned games, a good amount of laughter and fun!
And return gifts? Yes. Small tokens of our love, unwrapped, but enough to make them feel good!
What a lovely party we had!
Sharon Colaco D’Souza is a mother of two kids, a girl and a boy. She is a business management post graduate, and works as a content strategist for a living. She is passionate about home decor and design, and blogs at The Keybunch. Parenting is ‘that continuously-unravelling mystery’ for her and she views Parentous as a great place for parenting information, as well as a place to share her own parenting discoveries. She is currently working on a book idea on indigenous architecture and hopes to see it to fruition!