Why I’m not buying my kids birthday presents

  • The Free Mama
  • Tagged , , ,
  • March 28, 2016
  • It’s a big week in our house. My son Henry turns two years old tomorrow and on Saturday my daughter will be four. This weekend we’re throwing a joint birthday party {something I intend to do for as long as I can get away with it}.

    Daphne is incredibly excited. She keeps going over the guest list at the dinner table and has already brainstormed where she’d like to host next year’s birthday party {at home} and her 17th birthday party {at Gymboree…I’ll be sure to remind her of that when she’s seventeen…}.

    birthday party

    Ever since Daphne’s first birthday {an over the top ONEderland theme complete with a professional photographer and the photos to to prove it}, I’ve made a pretty big fuss over my kids’ birthdays. {Although this year I did decide to trade in the DIY house party for a venue rental. It’s a tad more expensive, but way worth the time I’m saving not cutting out Etsy bought theme designs.}

    I have no doubt that this year will be something she’ll continue to talk about for a long time. Bowling, balloons and a birthday cake {that she picked out} with friends is a pretty big deal for a little kid!

    As much as I love a good celebration with family and friends, I far from splurge when it comes to the presents. We already have a house full of too many toys. As a mom, I’m in the business of making memories. That doesn’t happen over a bunch of stuff, it happens when we do stuff together.

    Birthdays are no exception! In fact, they are the perfect opportunity to create those Insta moments you’ll be talking about years down the road. Here are my tips for making the most of your kids’ birthday presents….or lack thereof.

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    Daphne {3} and Henry {1} at their Toy Story themed bash last year.

    Buy Experiences Not Things

    Have you ever been home with a bored kid? It’s the worst. They become whiney and needy and you’re looking around at a mountain of toys wondering how boredom is even possible. It’s because they need something to do.

    Research has been telling us for years that spending money on new experiences yields more happiness than spending it on new products. It isn’t a new concept, but for some reason I think we have a more difficult time applying it to young kids.

    In lieu of gifts for Christmas and their birthdays this year, we’ve opted for a Wonderscope membership and zoo membership. Then the important part is to get out there are actually use them. I feel happier already!

    Ditch the “No Gifts Please”

    Have you ever gotten an invitation to a birthday party or shower that says “no gifts please” or “your presence is present enough” on it? {Guilty of sending, BTW!} While it may be incredibly well intentioned, it can be confusing or even stressful for your guests.

    When it comes time for the event, you have the rule followers strolling up to the door next to the etiquette police with a perfectly wrapped package in tow and suddenly the empty handers feel badly.

    The reality is, people like to bring gifts! And, truth be told, no one wants to be the only one showing up without one. I say, let them.

    Teach Gratitude

    Since you have all of these thoughtful friends coming with gifts, you have the perfect opportunity to teach your little birthday darling how to be appreciative. First, start with basic manners. No matter what anyone says, hand written thank you notes have not gone out of style.

    Second, consider using the presents as leverage to purge some of the gently used toys collecting dust around your house. Allow your children to be a part of the process. They can help decide which items get donated and even go with you to drop them off at a local charity.

    I’m looking forward to splurging on donuts for breakfast tomorrow morning with Henry before heading to the zoo for his big day. While my now two year old may not recall every detail, I still know our family’s birthday week memories will last longer than the four minutes he would have spent playing with a new toy before tossing it aside.

    What do you think of the rising trend of “no gift” and charitable gift parties?

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