I thought this article was very disturbing (having kid's parties contribute towards charities and not receive gifts). I can see how some parties have spiraled out of control with expensive gifts, prom-like sweet 16's with limos, etc. Parents want the very best for their kids (which is why a few have gone overboard in providing more than they can afford).
On the otherhand, as this article suggests, the scale has tipped too far in the other direction, where parents are trying to teach their kids the value of philanthropy. I agree that it is important for families to teach the importance of giving back but I think this is wrong for a few reasons.
1. Kids are kids. Presents are one of the many perks you can get when you are a kid, plain and simple
2. Although they have good intentions, families can practice philanthropy in many ways besides having small charity benefits in lieu of birthday parties(have these parents ever thought about volunteering together?!!!).
IMO, the public has always assumed that philanthropy usually involves a LOT of money (Bill Gates, Andrew Carnegie, etc.). However, wikipedia defines philanthrophy as the act of donating money, goods, time, or effort to support a charitable cause, usually over an extended period of time and in regard to a defined objective.
Maybe I am reading too much into this article, but it sounds like parents are having these charity parties because they subconsciously view themselves as being uber-rich. Yes there are celebrity birthday parties with all proceeds going to a particular charity (but these guys still have loads of cash to buy whatever they want).
3. If you are going to do a fund-raiser at all (which I still think is ridiculous at a birthday), use the birthday money towards something pratical, like the kid's college education.
I don't plan on starting a family of my own for quite some time (I still think of myself as a big kid at heart ) but just wanted to hear some of your views about this.