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Thread: Birthday parties with no presents?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Birthday parties with no presents?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/27/ny...sx+nO43AQtJQ1g

    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.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Whenever I read a story about this or hear something like this, I think the parents are exploiting their kids on roughly the same level that parents are when they march a picket line and have their kids out there marching and holding a sign with them.

  3. #3
    Well.....

    From this parent of a 7 yo and 10 yo, I have a little different take on it. A party sans presents is not a bad thing at a certain age (and I think 7 is probably pretty close to that age). Why? The kids do not need the cr@p they are going to receive (figuratively and literally) and it's a huge hassle for the parents of the guests.

    There's a local charity that provides meals for kids during the summer when school's out and these kids may well otherwise go hungry. They always need plates, napkins, plastic utensils, et cetera. Instead of spending $15-20 on something the kid doesn't want, won't use, and will end up only widening our trade debt with China, I've got no problem donating either cash or goods to the charity. We still get together and have a good time, just no crapola.

    As a family, of course we exhange gifts, some of which are fun and some practical.

    Just my $.02

  4. #4
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    I just went to a birthday party for a 1 year old, and the parents requested no presents. Instead they wanted everyone to bring a dish to pass.

    However, a few people ended up bringing gifts anyone. And I think they had a small party with the g-parents a few days early that involved presents.

    My take is that to completely deny kids presents is no fun for them, as well as no fun for the gift-giver. One of the cool things about giving a gift is seeing how much someone enjoys it. That being said, I can completely understand why parents would try to limit the number of gifts to reduce the amount of "stuff" kids have.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    All that plastic stuff that makes noise and lights up is overwhelming our little home. We went through the toys last month and half of them went to the consignment store or to the corner (where some of it actually disappeared). Wee P got the majority of it for birthday presents and didn't play alot with it anyway - it is better for someone else to enjoy.

    We went low key b-day last time. Five friends at the pool, played games with cake and birthday cards only but no presents. The kids (and the parents) had a great time. The family party had the presents.
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker View post
    Well.....
    From this parent of a 7 yo and 10 yo, I have a little different take on it. A party sans presents is not a bad thing at a certain age (and I think 7 is probably pretty close to that age). Why? The kids do not need the cr@p they are going to receive (figuratively and literally) and it's a huge hassle for the parents of the guests.
    My friend had a party for his son who was turning three last weekend. We were told if you want to bring a gift, bring a book from which he and read and learn. Also, bring some beer for the community stockpile. It was great, of course the grandparents brought gifts.

    Now, all I want for my birthday is a gathering with friends where they pick up the bar tab.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  7. #7
    Quote Originally posted by btrage View post
    I just went to a birthday party for a 1 year old, and the parents requested no presents. Instead they wanted everyone to bring a dish to pass.

    However, a few people ended up bringing gifts anyone. And I think they had a small party with the g-parents a few days early that involved presents.

    My take is that to completely deny kids presents is no fun for them, as well as no fun for the gift-giver. One of the cool things about giving a gift is seeing how much someone enjoys it. That being said, I can completely understand why parents would try to limit the number of gifts to reduce the amount of "stuff" kids have.
    I agree on the gift bit for a 1 year old. Personally, having a party for a child before the age of three or four is foolish. They don't remember anything about it and it's mainly about the family. My niece turned 1 at the end of May and if it hadn't been for relatives commenting on having a party for her, my sister wouldn't have bothered. She felt it was all about everyone else instead of her daughter.

    I guess I had my first birthday party at 4; I don't remember except for some faded Polaroids my mother has kept.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    I read the article this morning and have mixed feelings about it having a child myself.

    1. I think that if you want to engage in fundraising/philanthropy for a child's birthday party then the child needs to be old enough to understand and participate in the choice of charity. Frankly I don't foresee that happening until a kid is at least 7 or 8.

    2. Amongst my daughter's friends the trend has been towards gift cards to either the mall or Target. It saves time, wrapping, and the propensity towards receiving stuff she didn't need or want. I nearly always buy gift cards unless I personally know the child and his/her parents well enough to consult on what's appropriate.

    3. Parties have become a contest of one-upsmanship IMHO. It's all about bigger and better and how much was spent. I'm not a party pooper but frankly I am not into spending $200-$300 for kids that aren't mine to have a good time not to mention the time entailed in arranging such a thing where people can't seem to RSVP. Even with the so called philanthropic notion it will become a contest just like the article said.

    I am not doing a party for my teenager this year. I might take a small group out for dinner and have the cake there at the restaurant after school starts but she and I will have a mom-daughter weekend on her actual birthday in August.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
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    Fat Cat

    Usually books or something educational. Have not, do not and will not try to "outdo".
    Both Mrs Katt and I come from large families in rural areas, so there wasn't a lot of money where we were growing up and a gift was highly esteemed and cherished for the thought that went into it.
    So we have both always thought along those lines and have always given something that has thought in it. One grandaughter wants to be a pilot, so currently a book on planes and/or pilots are given to her. It depends on the interests of the child and not the latest fad. As their interests change the gifts change. Birthday parties can also be the gathering of a family showing love for each other as well as the celebration of a birthday and life.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian the north omaha star's avatar
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    Personally, I have had more birthdays without parties or cake than I have with them. I didn't start getting cake on my birthday with any regularity until I met my wife.
    I am recognizing that the voice inside my head
    is urging me to be myself but never follow someone else
    Because opinions are like voices we all have a different kind". --Q-Tip

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