Most parents I know lament the amount of stuff their kids have. (Some lament their own as well.)
Most parents I know specifically say that there’s no need to bring a gift to their kid’s birthday party. (This is extra nice when we don’t really know the birthday kid very well and aren’t sure what would be good. And if “they’re really into dinosaurs” (or whatever), it’s still hard to know what won’t duplicate something they already have.)
When the kids were younger, they didn’t typically open gifts at the party.
In addition to all of the drama avoided, gifts opened at home later means that all of the potential negative reactions to having given a card are publicly avoided.
It’s a little trickier now. Gifts are more often opened at the party.
So what to do?
If clutterstuff is a problem and it’s genuinely OK just to bring a card, then it seems that would be the way to go.
In theory, I’d like to have a get-together with The Kid and the birthday kid at a later date, treat them to that as their gift (if there’s an entrance fee, or if they get food). No clutter, no guessing what they like, still something gifted, time spent together. But I’ve found that much of the time, the get-together never happens.
I saw a suggestion for a “fiver party,” where each child brings $5 in a card to go towards a larger thing that the birthday boy wants to buy. It’s billed as being inexpensive and convenient for parents, since $5 is easier and typically cheaper than buying a gift.
But that feels funny. Not entirely sure why.
I saw a post yesterday with a suggestion for a wedding gift: a wallet with gift cards for places to go on dates. Good for applications beyond weddings, really, especially if you want to go a group gift for someone(s) and know places they like to go/eat/shop.
Which got me to thinking that maybe setting up playdates intentionally as a gift might work. (The connection was the collection of future outings as a gift.)
I’m still in the “thinking out loud” phase of this idea. For ease of pronouns, I’m going to create an example for The Kid’s birthday.
We invite who he wants to invite and suggest that in lieu of physical gifts, we’re creating a playdate series. We (both kids’ parents, with kid input) schedule a date and a location, and go from there. They could be to anywhere locally—parks, museums, other activities—and then he gets 1-on-1 time built in with his friends. And maybe tries out a new thing or goes to a new place.
There are logistics in there that I haven’t worked out.
Maybe have a coupon or something in each card, saying where the playdate will be.(Not sure kids care about the date.) But if it’s scheduled, it’s more likely to happen. Or let them pick a where and we can schedule the when at the party.
I do like the idea of one gift from everyone. I don’t know why I feel like that is less comfortable to set up than the thing I was just thinking about.
What do you think?