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Cash Donations For Kid’s Birthday

The following quote is from a “mom blog” regarding the request and giving of cash instead of gifts on the occasion of a child’s birthday.   Your thoughts?

“…the invitation had something on there that I’d never seen before. It basically said that there was absolutely no need to bring gifts but that if you were so inclined, to please consider a cash donation. The reason, they said, was that they were trying to teach their son about money management. They’d take the money and divide it in half. Part would go to a charity and part would go to a toy or toys he could purchase himself.

It reminded me of the time my sister tried to get her oldest daughter behind a similar thing. My sister, considering how blessed her children were in the toy department, asked her oldest what she thought about having kids donate toys in her honor at her next birthday party. My niece had some clarifying questions but quickly figured out the bottom line: there would be no presents for her from her friends. And she burst into tears. It still makes me laugh.

OK. So I realized that the parents of my daughter’s friend had figured out how to keep their son happy while still avoiding the deluge of plastic gifts that are a hallmark of the modern-day birthday party. And I have to admit, I like the trend, too.

Like most families, we’re pressed for time. Something as simple as going to a store, picking out a gift, coming home, wrapping it, remembering we forgot to get a card, going to get a card, and filling out that card, can send us over the edge. It’s one thing if you’re really good at gift-giving. But mostly birthday parties are about the fun times you have together anyway.

This was the easiest preparation for a birthday ever. I’d been out of town all week. My husband picked up a card at the CVS. We stuck a $10 bill in there and had the kids write their names in it. Voila. Done. Everyone’s happy.

So is there any way we can get this trend to continue? I want all my kids’ friends to ask for cash at their next birthday party. Heck, even if they don’t, I think cash is the way I’m going. Let the parents pick out their own toys. Let the parents buy a couple of beers, what do I care?

But if you do it like our friend did, you help the child learn the value of money and you save everyone else a heck of a lot of time.”

My thoughts are that it is usually poor etiquette to tell guests what type of gift is expected.  And anytime you start monetizing the gift giving, the temptation is to view them as moneymaking endeavors rather than celebration of life milestones.

{ 92 comments… add one }
  • lkb September 25, 2017, 4:52 am

    I can see all sides on this one. IMHO, I’d vote for letting the parents be the parents.

    Again, IMHO, I rather liked the wording on this: “It basically said that there was absolutely no need to bring gifts but that if you were so inclined, to please consider a cash donation. The reason, they said, was that they were trying to teach their son about money management. They’d take the money and divide it in half. Part would go to a charity and part would go to a toy or toys he could purchase himself.”

    Particularly, the “absolutely no need to bring gifts,” and the “if you were so inclined, please consider…” It’s not bossy, it clarifies matters very gently. In my experience, there is a certain expectation of gifts for kid birthday parties. What child does not want presents? As a parent, I always dreaded buying the gifts for such birthday parties because I usually didn’t know what the birthday child already had or was interested in. The above wording really simplifies things and gives insight into what the parents preferred.

    Yes, I know that mentioning gifts is not correct, etiquette-wise, but I really do like how this family handled it.

    • Dominic September 26, 2017, 7:00 am

      I don’t see the instruction on the invitation as gently clarifying. To me it is nearly passive-aggressive, and at the very least rings false—“Oh, no gifts please, but here’s what we had in mind: cash!”

      I agree with others below who suggest how children may be taught money management through an allowance, etc. The suggestion in the invitation sounds more like teaching their kids how to acquire money. A cash “donation” as a birthday present? A birthday party is not a charity.

  • Ryo'S Girl September 25, 2017, 5:05 am

    If you want to make it really easy, do what many children in our community seem to be doing lately and asking for donations to our local food bank or school breakfast program in lieu of gifts. You can give cash or raid your cupboards for something suitable. Personally, I know my children still get more than enough gifts from grandma & grandpa, aunts & uncle’s, mom & dad, they certainly don’t feel neglected and your money/donation goes to a worthy cause.

  • David September 25, 2017, 5:16 am

    I don’t see how this ‘teaches money management’. Basically you’re taking half the present that your child gets and giving it away. I agree that charity is good, I just don’t see how this is supposed to teach money management.

    I understand that people are busy, especially with both parents working like so many families need to do nowadays just to make ends meet, but I feel like it misses a huge life lesson not to shop for the present with your child, letting them pick out what their friend might like.

    • Kirsten September 25, 2017, 1:52 pm

      I agree. This teaches children that their parents can dispose of their possessions on a whim and that the things people give them out of love can be removed.

      • NostalgicGal September 27, 2017, 1:12 pm

        My mother did this. In late spring the house clean that usually involved a bunch of my stuff disappearing that SHE thought I didn’t need anymore, favorite or not. Then the family reunion in early July and one of her sister’s kids leaving with the missing stuff (same one every year). I don’t kid. I got to hate the reunion for good reason. I was also forbidden to set foot in attic because it took a stepladder and the upstairs ceilings were just ceiling tile stapled to the joists, then loose vermiculate insulation poured in. Step between joists and you put a foot through the ceiling below. Well I went up there after the mystery clean, removed all my stuff, and gave it to friends of mine (most of them were a few years younger). July, she goes up and there isn’t a bleeping thing up there and she went to give me the third degree about what happened (aka I went in the attic) I told her nice and loud I went up there, got my stuff down and gave it away. WHY?!?!?!?!? Um, it’s my stuff. If I can’t have it I could dispose of it then because it WAS MINE. I thought her sister was going to melt into the floor, she had no idea that my mom hadn’t asked me about the stuff EVER. I have had a few issues about that sort of stuff ever since…

        • staceyizme September 27, 2017, 4:00 pm

          I can see why anyone would have issues with someone disposing of their possessions without asking! No matter the age, that’s just not right! At least ASK you first and don’t go crazy with it. Kids can have a sizable toy collection and it might need to be “pruned” from time to time. But no one should have their things removed wholesale on a regular basis and individual items should be “cleared” with the owner prior to removal.

          • NostalgicGal September 29, 2017, 3:00 pm

            Exactly. One can teach a child about the annual thin-out and participate in what was leaving.

            My mom saw nothing wrong with her pruning until she got called on it in the corner at the reunion. (we became front and center when I put my loud voice on to answer her and told the truth-and my aunt her sister truly had no clue that I had had no say in what left for all those years (4-13 for me) and mom conveniently got me out of the way when the stuff was handed over) My stuff got stored after that with my input in the attic and WHEN I graduated we held a rummage sale to clean out house and I was a partner in the sale with my own stuff being put up, and got my own share of proceeds which went in my college fund.

          • Darshiva September 30, 2017, 8:33 pm

            Ran out of nesting, but I just had to respond with a CHEER! You GO, NostalgicGal!

  • Marie September 25, 2017, 5:48 am

    Getting presents on your birthday is not about the present itself. It’s about someone taking the time to find something especially for you. That is the true gift, not the physical item they put in your hands. For children it’s a bit different. It starts with the physical toy they get. But when they grow up, they’ll later realize the time and effort you put in their gift. I still remember one aunt very fondly, who always gave “cool” gifts and really did her best to find something that was cool for my age. And one uncle who – out of the blue – gave me a Disney video. It wasn’t even my birthday, but he saw it in stores and thought of me. These memories are now important to me. I no longer have most of the items, but I still remember being suprised and happy my cool aunt knew exactly who my favorite Looney Tunes character was. And whenever I see that Disney movie, I remember my uncle.

    With kids that you aren’t related to, it’s a bit different. It’s also not that difficult. There are plenty of generic toys and games with age indication you can buy at a toy store, or online. If your kid is around the age he/she goes to school, buying a gift is an important moment in their growth as a person. They learn to buy a gift for someone else. Buying a toy you do not get to keep, but instead see another kid being happy with it, is something every child must learn. You don’t learn that by having mommy put money in an enveloppe.
    It also doesn’t teach kids to be happy with what they receive. Yes, children might throw tantrums if they don’t get their preferred gift. But again, that’s an important life lesson to learn. They need to learn how to be grateful with what they did get. I remember being upset when I was a kid about a specific gift I received, but a few years later realized that was not the correct response. I learned from that experience and became a better person because of it.

    Of course a kid can always ask for money. I personally do not object to this, as long as there is a goal. If a kid asks money because he/she wants to save for a new Playstation (for example), I don’t mind giving money. This is another teachable moment: if you don’t have enough money for the toy you want, you need to save up and forgo other toys in order to reach your goal. And the birthday kid is happy: he/she is quite some steps closer to their goal, and the gift giving kids will know that when the item is bought, it’s in part due to their gift. In a time where so many people are in debt and spend money they don’t have, I can’t stress enough how valuable this skill is to learn.

    So, to OP: I can understand you don’t want to spend time on getting gifts for your kids friends. However, you can view it as taking the time to teach your own kid some valuable skills they will need later in life. If you look at it that way, it’s not such a waste of time. If you’re pressed for time, give your kid a catalogue he/she can use to pick out a toy. They’ll learn to look at price range and age appropriateness. They might need a little help, but it’s less time than going to the store, and you can easily buy the item online and have it delivered. I remember sitting down as a kid with a marker and catalogues, marking possible gifts. It was fun to do, and it kept me quiet and busy for quite some time. Good luck!

    • Darshiva September 30, 2017, 8:37 pm

      OP mentions that some people are better at gift-giving. By involving your child in picking out the gift, the card, writing the card, wrapping it, etc., you are teaching your child to be good at gift-giving. Following this “trend,” will only make your child thoughtless and unable to give gifts when money is not involved, and likely unable to appreciate gifts that someone went to the trouble of choosing (maybe even making!), wrapping, and delivering, instead of the easy money.

  • essie September 25, 2017, 5:57 am

    (A) “…birthday parties are about the fun times you have together anyway.” But it’s clear that you DO expect gifts. You laughed when your niece cried about not receiving gifts. While it’s possible that you were laughing at your niece’s expectations of “getting stuff” for her birthday, I suspect that you were laughing at your sister’s efforts to teach her daughter that birthday parties ARE about having fun with your friends, not the gifts.

    (B) “Something as simple as going to a store, picking out a gift, coming home, wrapping it, remembering we forgot to get a card, going to get a card, and filling out that card…” You make something “so simple” sound like a Herculean effort. If you care so little for the birthday celebrant that this “simple” task is a massive, life-sucking obligation, then it would be better for everyone if you declined the invitation: you could save your your time and efforts for the relationships that ARE important to you and the hosts wouldn’t have to expend their resources on entertaining someone who doesn’t want to be there.

    (C) Nowhere in your letter did I see any indication that you intend to do this for your OWN celebrations, only that everyone else should do this for THEIR celebrations, to make YOUR life easier.

  • Mustard September 25, 2017, 7:18 am

    I have to disagree with the OP; I don’t think it teaches a child the value of money at all. What it does do is to say that the birthday girl or boy isn’t worth a few moments of the gift-givers time to buy a gift. I think any invitation ‘asking’ for money is rude.

  • Anon September 25, 2017, 7:31 am

    I don’t have any problem with monetary gifts. But…the time and effort required to get a gift is vasty overstated. Has this person never heard of Amazon? You go online, pick a suitable gift (and a card), and it arrives to your door in 2 days. Personally, I keep a stash of blank cards that can be inscribed for any occasion, so I would use those in a pinch.

    • Darshiva September 30, 2017, 8:40 pm

      I love my stash of blank cards! Not only are they conveniently available from my stash, any time I need one, and suitable for every occasion, but they teach children how to write cards for every occasion, so that should they be stuck sometime in the future, with no card at all, let alone a pre-printed one, they can simply write an appropriate note, instead.

      There’s a reason there are etiquette books specifically about correspondence. It’s a skill people need to learn.

  • Leigh September 25, 2017, 7:32 am

    At what point do the donors, sorry, guests, get to determine to which charity their money will be sent? Don’t use the (in this case expected) generosity of your guests to teach your child about money. That’s something you can and should be doing all year long.
    Perhaps next year, they’ll just forego the party all together and just set up a Go Fund Me for the kid. Online donations are so much easier than even buying a card, and you don’t have to bother with that pesky human interaction.

    • Kirsten September 25, 2017, 1:54 pm

      Good point. I’d be really unhappy if someone donated half my gift to a far-right organisation, or an anti-choice group, or one of those camps for “correcting” gay people.

      • Leigh September 26, 2017, 7:25 am

        Just as I would be unhappy if my gift were sent to Planned Parenthood…which is exactly why giving to charity should be at the individual’s discretion and not as “teachable” moment for a child. We should all be allowed to donate where we wish to donate, and allow others to do the same.

        And I may be cynical here, but isn’t “Oh, we want to give half of what we receive to charity,” a bit of a humble-brag?

        • Darshiva September 30, 2017, 8:42 pm

          I agree on the humble-brag bit. Either donate anonymously, or use your name, but don’t tell all and sundry about it.

    • SJ October 5, 2017, 11:32 pm

      I think the parents are donating to charity, not the guests.

      • jokergirl129 October 17, 2017, 2:55 pm

        Yes but the parents are asking the guests to provide the money which the parents will use half of it to donate to a charity.

  • Huh September 25, 2017, 7:57 am

    You are also never going to teach kids how to be a good gift giver, and in some cases, the importance of thoughfulness, celebrating others, etc. by just being like, “meh, here’s $10.”

    When my kids were in school and getting all the party invitations, single mom me took them to the store to pick out their friend’s present and gave them a budget within which to shop, usually $10. They loved it. And so many times, they made their own cards for their friends. And we are present bag hoarders, so we try to save the ones we get and reuse in the future.

    I have a thing with forced charity, so I’m not even going to go into that.

    • Dee September 25, 2017, 11:09 am

      Huh – I’m laughing at your last line. My sentiments exactly.

      Asking others for money doesn’t teach a child money management, it teaches them greed. There should never be mention of gifts on an invitation. To equate ‘inviting guests to partake of your hospitality’ with ‘gifts’ is rude. Guests are free to give or not give, but the invitation is strictly for the host to offer something to the guests. Nothing more.

      If your child has too much stuff as it is then you are already teaching them something – that life will always overflow with goods. They WILL be disappointed with reality when it hits. Why not examine the problem that exists instead of trying to mould the guests to fit the problem?

      As my kids got older the gifts they received from friends seemed to be primarily cash. I would have loved to have seen what those kids would have chosen instead, as gifts were always an interesting study in different interests in years previous, but for some reason the kids/parents felt money was the best gift. Oh well. Not as if my kids didn’t like money, too. And they do remember that so-and-so gave them money for such-and-such birthday but they don’t remember that well, whereas the toy bought for them provokes much more in sentiment and memories, things far more valuable than money or goods.

      I also think it’s sad not to spend the time with your own kids, helping them pick out a gift for their friend’s party. If OP wants to talk about teachable moments, that’s the biggest one there is. Having a child spend money, their own as they get old enough, to buy something for someone else. It’s called generosity and thoughtfulness, and they are some of the most valuable traits to have.

  • lnelson1218 September 25, 2017, 8:11 am

    I haven’t been involved in a children’s birthday party for so long, I have no idea.
    But for awhile, in the immediate family everyone kept up their Amazon wish list. My family does love reading and DVDs. So we could always find something. My nephews sometimes are hard, sometimes not. Don’t misunderstand they love getting gifts, but often a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble makes them just as happy as the latest “in” thing.

  • DaDancingPsych September 25, 2017, 9:17 am

    I totally understand what the writer is thinking. It is sooo much work and I get completely stressed out about finding the perfect gift. And typically children from families well off enough to host a party tend to have plenty of toys.

    I also get what Madam is saying. Etiquette wise, it would not be good to dictate the type of presents desired and I could see this becoming a money grab, too.

    I do the cash option when the child is old enough to manage the money (with some parental help.) Somewhere between the 7th and 10th birthday’s (although these are numbers that I selected and based on nothing more.) At that point, usually what kids want is pricey, so my money would be better put together with other moneys so that the kid can get what he/she really wants. Then if the parent wants to make a lesson of it, they would be welcome to do it.

  • Devin September 25, 2017, 9:34 am

    I recently saw something like this on Facebook. A close acquaintance of mine posted a link to their local SPCA donation page with the comment that her daughter wanted to celebrate her birthday by sending presents to all the local shelter animals and if you donated through her link you could share a birthday wish with her. On her birthday her mother took her shopping to buy pet toys (some people had send cash or checks directly to her), then posted pictures of her and a few friends at the shelter playing with the animals and handing out the toys. All of the children and volunteers (and animals) looked like they were having the time of their lives. What a great way to teach multiple lessons about charity and the unexpected ways in which you are paid back when you do good deeds. I wouldn’t have sent this child a present but I had no qualms about donating through her page to a cause I believe in.

    • gmc September 25, 2017, 1:11 pm

      My daughter did this, too, though it was about 20 years ago. She would ask her party guests to bring donations for the local pet shelter (food, blankets, pet toys) instead of gifts for her. After the party, when the adults arrived to pick up the kids, the whole group would troop on down to the shelter (about 1/2 mi) to drop off the donations. Of course, they were allowed to pet/play with a few of the residents. Every year, they had a really nice time.

      The nicest part was that it was my daughter’s idea.

  • Victoria September 25, 2017, 9:36 am

    If you want to teach your children about money management, give them a basic allowance and set chores, and then a list of extra chores/work with pricing.

    Say your kid gets $10 per week. Basic chores are keeping their room clean, raking leaves, and loading the dishwasher. If they help cook and put away the leftovers, they get another $5. If they help mow after they rake, they get another $5. If they fold and put away clothes, another $5. At least half, or two thirds, of their weekly pay must be put into savings. The other half, or one third, is spendable on whatever they want. Maybe, if they save a milestone amount, they’re allowed to order a big ticket item. Gaming system or laptop or such. My daughter was allowed to spend $750 on a new laptop once she had saved $2000.

    This teaches money management, the importance of saving (both for a goal, and to have the money cushion), and the importance of having some fun with your money as well. And it does all that without demanding money from your friends and family.

    • Lola September 25, 2017, 11:18 am

      Exactly. My kid is five. We’ve had a system in place since she was 3. Whenever she gets money (earns it or grandparents give her some, etc) half is put into her bank and the other half can be used when we go grocery shopping. She wants a candy or whatever. Now we take 10 and that goes to charity. On her birthday she gets to dump her bank and spend half of the accumulated money on anything she wants. She desperately wanted a flipazoo which her father and I refused to buy because she had plenty of stuffed animals. She waited for her birthday and bought her Flippy. Same at Christmas half gets spent. She always has a rolling amount stashed away. She’s already figured out how to make the most of her money when the time comes.

    • Calli Arcale September 25, 2017, 2:09 pm

      I agree. Teaching money management is much more effective if the child has a steady income stream to manage rather than a series of unpredictable windfalls.

    • InTheEther September 26, 2017, 10:05 pm

      I actually remember asking my mom if I could have an allowance. If I recall correctly, it wasn’t even really that I wanted to buy a anything with it. It’s that some of my friends had allowances and the whole idea of having money that was at my own sole discretion seemed like such a grown-up thing to me. So she considered it with my dad and decided that I’d have a few chores to do each week and I’d get a $5 allowance on Fridays.

      And I was ecstatic about it. It made me feel like I was so much more mature than my younger brother since I had my own money (as opposed to my mom holding it for me until we went to the store to spend it). Its just one of things that you look back on and realize was pretty silly, but when you’re young it seems like a big step on the road to adult hood. And I really was completely ignorant on and lackadaisical about the money. On entering high school I finally cut open my piggy bank and I had checks from my grandparents that were years old, that it hadn’t occurred to me needed to actually be cashed at a bank.

  • Kirsten September 25, 2017, 9:38 am

    I’d rather do gift vouchers to a toy shop or book tokens than cash.

    • Kirsten September 25, 2017, 9:38 am

      But if anyone was so presumptuous as to tell me what to buy, that child would get a drum kit. And possibly a trumpet.

      • Darshiva September 30, 2017, 8:50 pm


  • JD September 25, 2017, 9:44 am

    If the parents want to teach money management, why don’t they give an allowance and do the “”keep, donate, save” method, or any other popular method to teach kids? Why expect the guests to fund their teaching philosophy? There would be less plastic gift deluge, perhaps, if less kids were invited to start with. And if someone asked what the birthday child wanted, they could just say a book or crayons or whatever else the parents would prefer to see as gifts.
    It’s okay if guests want to give cash, but why dictate their generosity? For some, giving cash IS the easiest thing — nothing is stopping them from giving cash even if the invitation says nothing about it. For some, picking out a gift gives them joy, so let them do so if they want. But directing others how to give is never correct, and for some, who can’t afford to give even $10, it’s embarrassing to hear “cash only.” They might have had a great puzzle they got on clearance to give, a never-used toy truck still in its packaging from a yard sale, or might have made something fun and unique for the child, but now they have to hand over cash they can possibly ill-afford. Even saying “if you are so inclined” to donate is pointless, because how many kids are going to want to be the only ones to show up at a child’s birthday party, empty-handed?

    • Darshiva September 30, 2017, 8:56 pm

      Yes! Some kids just don’t have money to give, and nor do their parents, but they may have something in good shape to pass on, or even something they take the time and effort to make themselves.

      Personally, I have no problem with receiving gently used gifts, especially if I know that item was something the giver truly enjoyed, themselves, because that meant that they gave a piece of themselves, when handing on the item to me.

      As for home-made gifts, I was practically brought up on them, both giving and receiving them. And as a home-made gift giver, I KNOW that it takes much more time, effort, and thought to create a gift for someone than it does to just buy something off the shelf, and even more than just handing someone some cash, whether it comes in a thoughtful card, or not.

  • DGS September 25, 2017, 9:46 am

    Meh. I don’t think it’s a good idea ever to ask for money, and it’s entirely possible to teach a child financial management using one’s own money.

    • staceyizme September 26, 2017, 6:16 pm

      I agree with this statement. Anyone wishing to invite guests should focus on hosting. Even for the young, this is enough to manage. Children’s parties have been the learning lab for manners for decades. All of the back and forth about “it’s okay to specify cash” or “it’s fine to ask for cash or contributions to charity” miss the mark. They conflate a social occasion with a not-nice expectation of gifts or cash. Whether it is for oneself or for a charity- it isn’t a good idea.

  • Kamatari September 25, 2017, 9:47 am

    I’m kind of on the fence about this one.

    Admin is absolutely right that it’s poor etiquette to tell people what gift to bring.

    However, children’s birthday parties (for about middle school age and younger) are already pretty much a gift grab. The whole class gets invited as to not leave anyone out when there’s probably a core of about 2-5 friends that are actual friends. Children’s birthday parties are just like inviting everyone you’ve ever known to your wedding to get the most gifts from people whether you’re close or not.

    If you aren’t in that core of 2-5 actual friends, what gift would you get a kid you barely know? If the birthday kid and random invitee #14 aren’t really friends, what should that kid bring as a gift (if he goes at all)? Most of these kids don’t know each other intimately enough to know what toys they lack.

    But then this brings up a whole new problem. It’s easier to give people money than an actual gift, so gimme-pigs would go around before or after the party to demand their “rightful” money gift. They did nothing to deserve the money except survive another year. Changing gift buying to cash giving would require children to be taught a deeper level of etiquette that seems to be taught less and less as the generations go on. A gift should never be expected. In fact, they took the time to think of you during your special moment, so the mere verbal congratulations is a gift in and of itself, anything else is extra. You are owed NOTHING.

    I remember the birthday party I had in 3rd grade. My whole class was invited and most of them came. I got 3 of the same gift (I didn’t care because I loved it lol!) because my class knew I liked a certain tv show. Since that was all my general class knew about me (I didn’t really have a lot of friends because I was loud, rude, obnoxious, and VERY opinionated), most of the gifts I got revolved around the tv show instead of other things I might have liked or wanted at the time.

    I don’t know if I would have been happier with cash instead of physical toys, because I rarely bought anything for myself. Any money I got from anyone (birthday, Christmas, etc) went right into my bank account. When anyone asked what I would use it for, I would say “I’m saving it for the future”.

    I have a question, when did giving gifts at birthdays start anyway? Did the upper class in ancient roman times say, “You’re a year older, let me buy you something to celebrate?” How did this trend start?

    • Jazzgirl205 September 25, 2017, 8:02 pm

      Children invite the whole class to their birthday parties because that is the school rule now. I don’t know how they would enforce it or where they get their authority, but that is a rule.

      • SolitaryBlue September 27, 2017, 10:37 am

        I remember when I was in the second or third grade, I wanted to have a birthday party. My school had the same rule back then — the whole class had to be invited; otherwise, you couldn’t hand out invitations at school.
        My father was going to grad school at the time, so he was only working part-time… we couldn’t afford to host the entire class! I didn’t know about the “invite the whole class” rule, so I brought invitations to school for the 6-7 kids in my class that I was actually friends with. One of my classmates brought party invitations the same day. The whole class was invited to his party, and he got to pass his invitations out to everyone. I told my teacher (awhile later), “I have birthday party invitations, too, but not for the entire class.” I couldn’t hand mine out like my classmate had; during recess, my teacher had me stay in the classroom with her, and call the kids I was inviting inside, one at a time, hand them each an invitation, and ask them not to tell the rest of the class that they were invited.

      • Dippy September 27, 2017, 11:16 am

        I think that’s only if you pass out invites at school.

      • LovleAnjel September 27, 2017, 12:22 pm

        If you send the invitations with the kid to be passed out in school, they need to invite the whole class so no one is left out when they are passed around. Otherwise it’s more of a distraction, and the kids who don’t get invitations have it advertised to everyone that they’re not good enough. This can completely ruin someone’s day and ability to learn.

        If you don’t want to invite the whole class, you mail the invitations.

      • Darshiva September 30, 2017, 8:59 pm

        Seriously? That is 1) a stupid rule, and 2) unfairly penalizes poor children who can only afford to invite their core friends, and 3) unfairly penalizes polite people who know to issue the invitations privately, rather than having the kid blurt out the party information at school.

        It’s a horrible rule, and I’m glad I’m not in a position to be forced (how DO they enforce it?) to follow it.

  • Ripple September 25, 2017, 9:48 am

    When I opened this site today, there was a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson that perfectly fit this story: Manners require time, and there is nothing more vulgar than haste. Yes, it is easier and faster to just give money, but part of the fun for the birthday kid is seeing what his or her friends thought would be appreciated. Your niece knew this. And I can easily see this getting out of control. “Oh, the Jones’ gave $10, so the Smith’s have to give $15, etc.”

  • AS September 25, 2017, 10:05 am

    Wait… you still laugh at your niece breaking down into tears…? Why?
    Her mother wanted to teach her to be generous. But forcing the girl to do something (and probably branding her as not being generous because she was sad to not have to chance to open gifts) is not the way to go! Teach them so that generosity comes from the heart – like many parents have been successful at doing that. And PLEASE DON’T LAUGH at a child’s heartbreak. They don’t understand things the way adults do.

    I think any toy that a child receives are gifts can be donated to charity too. It doesn’t have to be cash. And if you want, teach the child how to sell the toys (legally) by using your online ebay or craigslist account, and make some money that they can use. But please don’t ask for money from guests.

    • NostalgicGal September 25, 2017, 3:46 pm

      My dad used to laugh at me getting mad and the madder I got the more he laughed which would make me bleeding FURIOUS. So he got mad at something and I forced myself to laugh at him. So he got madder and gave me a spanking (I was just barely four). Mom came to find out why I got a spanking and I told her. Dad got ‘marched behind the wood shed’ by Mom, and that was the last time he laughed at me getting mad. That was what I was being taught by his actions and I didn’t know better at the time… Don’t laugh at your kid over things like that, EVER. The poor girl was heartbroke, and sounds like young enough it was pretty devastating and you laugh? No.

      • Darshiva September 30, 2017, 9:02 pm

        Although your Mother just didn’t get it when it came time to giving away your property, without any input from you, at least she handled this situation well.

  • Michelle September 25, 2017, 10:59 am

    So, you laugh every time you remember how your niece was heartbroken and cried over being told she would not be allowed to accept presents? Wow.

  • Harry September 25, 2017, 11:23 am

    This is absolutely not a good idea. If parents want to teach their children about finances and charitable causes, use their allowance or money earned doing odd jobs for that purpose, and leave the soliciting of funds from your nearest and dearest out of the equation.

  • staceyizme September 25, 2017, 12:26 pm

    Maybe the whole tradition of making exceptions for the stigma attached to any expectation of gifts at children’s birthday parties, bridal showers and baby showers has lead to this debacle. The selection of a gift requires time, thoughtfulness and a personal knowledge of the recipient. That’s why it’s always been an honor to receive a gift (even if it wasn’t perfect) and expected that gratitude would be expressed promptly (ideally in writing). But- if we’re just down to handing out cash for major life events in an endless round of “tell me what you want me to buy and I’ll kick in”, why not just cut out the middle man and everyone agree to keep their own cash? It isn’t nice to tell people what to get you (because you’re supposed to think more of their presence than their presents). That hasn’t changed. If we ever get to the point where we’re all just “okay” with paying a standardized relational “toll” in the form of cash gifts to those we call our nearest and dearest, we’ve lost a great deal of all that is good, I think.

    • Darshiva September 30, 2017, 9:04 pm

      Not to mention, if everyone in the circle of friends/relations is just giving the same monetary gift, it’s just passing around the same few bills, and you might as well put an end to gifts, altogether.

      Sure, you say, you get to spend your gift money when it is given to you, but then you have to save the same amount to give to those same people who gifted you at your birthday, and really it amounts to the same money making the rounds. It’s just silly.

  • SamiHami September 25, 2017, 12:45 pm

    I think the kid should get presents. Actual presents. Not a lesson on money management. There is plenty of time for him to learn about such things; his birthday shouldn’t be commandeered for such purposes. Let him be a kid and let him have his gifts.

    • jokergirl129 October 17, 2017, 3:19 pm

      I actually agree with this. Parents should be teaching their kids about money management all year long once they are old enough. And it’s the same thing when it comes to making donations to different charities and such. But you shouldn’t only be teaching these life lessons on their birthday (or other special days/holidays). It’s one thing if the kid themselves wants to donate to a charity or something like that on their birthday. That is completely fine. But otherwise they should just be a kid, be allowed to get presents and just have fun.

  • girl_with_all_the_yarn September 25, 2017, 1:27 pm

    Obviously there are exceptions to the rule.

    My nephew is high-functioning autistic (and before you correct me, he prefers Identity First Language instead of Person First so referring to him as autistic is his choice. He hates being referred to as a “person with autism”). He has some strange sensory things he reacts to, including art supplies. So markers, paint, sidewalk chalk and glue are all out. They all can leave residue on his hands and even the thought of the sensation makes him panic. Panic leads to meltdowns. Meltdowns end the party early, which sucks.

    New friends don’t always remember that he is autistic nor that he doesn’t do well with art supplies. So on invitations his mom always puts a list of suggestions since his issues can make it hard for parents to put together gifts.

    • BeachMum September 26, 2017, 8:46 am

      My child has some sensory issues. However, when she was younger (and even today) I would never suggest gifts on the invitation. Yes, it meant that she received nail polish and makeup kits a few times (that she gave away or gave to her her sister) but it taught her a lesson about gracious behavior.

      Even today, my sister-in-law and mother-in-l;aw seem to prefer to give me gifts of things I should want, rather than things I actually want. I whip off a polite thank-you note and give said gift away. That’s what receiving inappropriate gifts teaches our children, gracious behavior.

      • girl_with_all_the_yarn September 27, 2017, 1:03 pm

        Trouble is, even the thought of the color touching him makes him freak out. He’s high functioning to a point.

        Now that he’s older, he can control it better. But when he was 9? Not a chance.

        When he was 7 he got a paint set for his birthday. A well meaning gift, but he panicked. Once the meltdown happened, party over, kids sent home, he gets bullied at school even worse.

        One size fits all etiquette doesn’t work when a disability is in play.

        • Darshiva September 30, 2017, 9:08 pm

          Instead of putting a list of suggested gifts in the invitation, what about a list of things specifically to avoid? Same thing if there are allergies to be considered. Some consumables may seem fine on the surface, but were produced or packaged in a factory that had allergens, and if you happen to be one of the people who are *deathly* allergic, even a little dab will kill you, so it’s better to avoid those things.

          In such a case, I’d just put in a note along with the invitation (not on the invitation, itself), “due to health reasons, please do not bring X items to the house.” Note, it does not say “gifts,” there, anywhere. It says don’t bring them to the house, including for the guest’s own personal use, because it will cause a health (mental or physical) issue.

          Admin, can we get a ruling on this, please?

    • Dee September 26, 2017, 9:59 am

      But your nephew doesn’t have to use or play with the presents he is given, so he wouldn’t have to experience those unpleasant sensations just by receiving the gift. It isn’t going to work to shelter him from everyday experiences. His party, and the other parties and events he attends, are good lessons for what to do when the issue comes up. Lots of practise and role playing ahead of time would help, too. It’s a fine line to walk, yes, but sheltering is the absolute worst thing to do with a kid whose behaviour and preferences is naturally “odd”. ASD kids don’t generally grow out of their quirks on their own.

      • Leigh September 27, 2017, 9:17 am

        But she said even the thought of experiencing that sensation would cause him to have a meltdown. If seeing sidewalk chalk causes tears, a meltdown, and an end to the party, I think the concern is valid.

        • Dee September 28, 2017, 12:46 pm

          The concern is valid but the treatment is not. How does the boy get through a school day, if he has such a strong reaction? Or when he is out at appointments, or taking a walk in the neighbourhood while kids are playing with art supplies in their yards? Sheltering is the last option a parent should take, it makes the problem so much bigger in the end.

          • Darshiva September 30, 2017, 9:10 pm

            I think it’s fair enough to shelter the kid ON HIS BIRTHDAY. Yes, sure, let him have exposure therapy every other day of the year, as it is probably happening, anyway, but ON HIS BIRTHDAY, let him feel safe!

      • girl_with_all_the_yarn September 27, 2017, 1:04 pm

        As mentioned to the other commenter, at 9 even the thought of colors staying on his skin made him panic. Once the meltdown happened, the party was over and he was bullied worse at school.

        As a teen, he can control the emotions better. But back then? You’re asking too much of a child.

      • NostalgicGal September 27, 2017, 1:17 pm

        It depends though too on the age and/or functioning level. A gift, new stuff, and it can be pretty hard to NOT jump into it especially if others are doing so and enjoying it.

        Sure some work may need to be done about it, and it may take time to accomplish the results. Still, if the parent knows they’re not to a good place about that sort of stuff, it’s best to suggest those things are NOT gifted.

        • staceyizme September 27, 2017, 4:07 pm

          Maybe have a “helper” unwrap the gifts and filter out the paints “for later”? No meltdown, no specifying and no problem. I do agree that special needs are special cases, but it might be easier to invite those who know a child well enough to know about the issue and to be compliant. Perhaps a party with acquaintances would not be appropriate for someone with such sensitivities. (Or gloves? Point being that etiquette is secondary to managing your child’s needs. But if they can be managed within the bounds of standard etiquette with some minimal tweaks, better that than “no art supplies”. (Although no one would flinch if it were “no peanuts” or “no gluten” so I do kind of see your point…)

          • Anonymous September 28, 2017, 1:44 pm

            Actually, I think “no art supplies, because Jack has sensory issues” is reasonable. I think maybe one caveat (or maybe two, maximum) are okay, within reason, as long as they’re not overly restrictive, and as long as it’s not like, “no gifts under X amount.” I’d put it on the same level as, “no make-up or pierced earrings, because Jill is allergic,” or “no large gifts, because the Hill family just doesn’t have the space.” Otherwise, you get situations like the YEARS out of my childhood when one of my uncles would always buy computer games and programs for me and my brother, that didn’t work on our home computer. My dad (his brother) could have told him what kind of computer we had, in order to avoid this problem, but out of “politeness,” he just had me and my brother write thank you notes, and not mention that we couldn’t actually use the computer programs. Same deal with the relatives who’d send arts and crafts kits that I was rarely allowed to use, because my parents didn’t want me making messes. I think the same arguments can be made against, say, buying clothes for a child who’s hard to fit, or has body image issues. I’m not saying that children are entitled to receive EXACTLY what they want every gift-giving occasion, but I think it’s okay to have maybe one or two “hills to die on” as far as gifts go, determined by either the child or the parent. Maybe that hill is violence, and you don’t want people giving your kids violent video games or toy guns. Maybe it’s storage space, and you don’t want the relatives presenting your child with a playhouse and a Power Wheels Jeep. Maybe it’s noise, because you have neighbours who work the night shift, so a drum set is a no go. Just because autism and other special needs can create “hills” that seem “strange” to others, doesn’t make them any less valid. That doesn’t make it okay to completely dictate gift-giving by sending out unsolicited wish lists, or to allow kids to be rude and throw a fit because their friend got them a Pokémon game when they really wanted Super Mario, but I think some communication is okay–I mean, nobody wants to spend time and money buying/making/organizing gifts that won’t get used.

          • NostalgicGal September 29, 2017, 3:19 pm

            We did have issues one year, I was an avid bookworm and I cried when I opened my Christmas gifts because I was given a lot of books that I already HAD. Waste of a good chance to get a new book (I was 8). 8 of the 11 books I received I already had, paperbacks. So about beginning of October after that, my mother tasked me to make a list of what I wanted (especially book titles). I happily produced said list of about a hundred items, from under a dollar to a few at the just over $100. And over 60 book titles (paperbacks then were $2-3). I knew I wasn’t going to get the entire list. I didn’t expect or demand to. But there were my heart’s desires and the book list. It got passed around (we had cousins exchanging gifts, most were smaller than I was) and crossed off. It was wonderful for me, and made the relatives happy too, that shopping was made that much easier. I got a few things not on the list and that was okay too, but the issue of the duplicate books went away. My birthday was not too terribly long after Christmas and I’d be asked about any updates to the list? and they’d be added, but most of the time that list could pass around one more time. Not quite a registry and by the same token-no fits if stuff wasn’t on the list, and no fits if the whole list wasn’t purchased/gifted. It was large so I didn’t know what I was getting which was important. Others I exchanged with, would also provide lists (one was a tattered Christmas catalog with stuff circled, some crossed off because parents or others had bought, and I chose, and crossed out what I bought-they couldn’t write yet so pictures were how it was done). Still I had to save/earn money, go shopping, buy gifts, wrap them…

      • Airelenaren September 27, 2017, 2:17 pm

        I’m a so-called “igh-functioning” autistic myself (by the way, functioning labels are really misleading/too vague, as you can tell from this example).
        I have a Very Very Big problem with chalk and other dry-and-coarse substances. It’s not like a normal aversion, where you might not want to touch something but can talk about it or see it on TV.
        If I see calk, or even just hear the German word for it, my brain runs a simulation and I feel chalk under my finger nails and in my eyes. I have at several occasions rubbed and/or washed out my eyes (in reaction to this) until they were sore and swollen, and had to wear a bandage around them for a while to prevent me from scratching or rubbing further. It is not an average disgust of something.

        • Darshiva September 30, 2017, 9:16 pm

          Yes, and telling your parents to make you deal with it on your birthday, in order to teach you to be gracious is just cruel, IMO. That’s like telling my friend to graciously accept any and all foodstuff, without asking, “Are there any mushrooms in here, because you know that will kill me?”

          On your birthday, of all days, you should be, and feel, safe. Parents should be allowed to take steps to protect their children on their birthdays. Yes, the birthday is a time to learn good manners, but not a time to use your own brute force to overcome your own body’s reaction to a stimulus that could have easily been avoided, in the first place.

          • Airelenaren October 1, 2017, 2:58 am

            To be honest, I think some things should not be enforced at _any_ time. The intensity of reaction autistic people can get from having something aversive forced on them is bad enough that I compare it to inflicting physical pain.

            Which is also fitting because _my_ pain tolerance is quite high (tolerance, mind you, not threshold – I can feel pain long before I show it). I could easily demand that everyone handle their physical pain silently and without medication, just because I can do it. And if everyone stayed perfectly functional regardless of physical pain, they would work much better as a productive member of society, right?

            It’s even possible to train someone to tolerate pain better. Just inflict it repeatedly until their body grows numb to it.
            So we should do that, right?
            …Somehow, I think that would be a very bad idea.
            People often say autistics lack empathy, but I think that might be because neurotypicals lack empathy for us. (Not you in particular, but I hope that was clear from context.)

  • Margaret September 25, 2017, 1:52 pm

    From the time my kids were small, friend birthday parties were “no gifts”. We bought our children birthday gifts ourselves, of course, given at family dinner, but the lesson was that parties were about having a good time with their friends: games, cake, no gifts given, no party favors sent home… low stress, and easier on kids whose parents had tight budgets.

  • Semperviren September 25, 2017, 3:04 pm

    Thoughtful gift giving (and receiving) are useful social skills. I don’t like the idea of shortcutting the process of teaching the custom of gift-giving because it’s “just too much work” for the parents. Cash may be convenient, but it’s impersonal and a little crude, IMO.

    • Tanz September 28, 2017, 7:56 pm

      I agree.

  • K September 25, 2017, 3:10 pm

    My kids have received invitations like this and I love it. Although, there was no ‘money management’ talk since that is not at all what this is about. It’s a ‘we have too much stuff but recognize our child will feel hard done by with no toys at all.’ Where I live, appropriate kid gifts start at $20 and usually are around $30, up to $40. It’s a pricey expectation. We were asked for $10 – $5 for the kid, $5 for the charity. Gave $20 and felt super generous at well below normal spend. Win win. I have 3 kids. 95% of the time, kids are so busy having fun at their parties, gifts are not opened. From my own kids, I know they like getting gifts but don’t even play with most of it. It’s just clutter. Much more exciting to go shopping with money to get what they really want and to feel good that they are helping others. Two thumbs waaaay up for this, though admittedly, I never do it. My kids are getting old enough they just ask each other for gift cards to play games with each other online.

  • TeamBhakta September 25, 2017, 3:33 pm

    That seems so over the top & drama queen-ish to say that shopping for one birthday present & a card drives one over the edge. It’s not that hard.

  • kgg September 25, 2017, 4:57 pm

    When my youngest sister was little, she went to a birthday party and the birthday girl (she was turning 8 or 9) asked that people bring gifts to donate to the pet shelter. I thought that was lovely.

  • lakey September 25, 2017, 5:28 pm

    I’m not on the fence about this. I think that this trend teaches kids that, when it comes to gifts, they are entitled to get EXACTLY what they want.

    If a parent feels that the child gets too many gifts for their birthday, there is a simple solution. Donate many of the gifts to organizations that help low income kids.
    There are family shelters, the same groups that do food banks collect toys for Christmas, Child Protective Services may have some needs, and churches often know of low income families.

    This way you solve the problem of too many gifts, you teach the child to think of others, and you don’t teach the child to be picky and entitled about what gifts others give to him/her.

  • Lady Catford September 25, 2017, 5:28 pm

    I am of several minds about this post.
    For babies I knit something.
    For 2 years and older, I give money. Kids who can walk like money, and they like buying things with Their Own Money.
    I had suggested to DS that we send money in lieu of gifts as they live a two day drive away from us. That was not received with joy.
    DH & I got a list of what they wanted and bought off said list. We sent it by bus (much easier and cheaper than mail). DH & I were meticulous in our packaging, using a lot of small packing peanuts (about smaller in size than marbles). DS & Family live in middle of this province, lots of snow and lots of static electricity.
    I still have the pictures that they sent back, two adults, two children, and the dog were covered with the tiny packing peanuts. And their Thank You notes. And a plea for mercy. A good thing too as DH was all for using that expandable foam stuff around all the wrapped gifts in the next Xmas.
    DIL says that they are still finding baby packing peanuts. DH has suggested that the baby packing peanuts are breeding.
    Now we get Thank You notes from them for the great gifts they were able to buy.

    • Darshiva September 30, 2017, 9:21 pm

      Oh, this made me laugh so hard! Thanks for the mental image.

  • Deaniebop September 25, 2017, 11:27 pm

    Maybe it’s because I’m trying to avoid ‘compulsory consumerism’ in my own life, but I feel it’s a reasonable solution. Yes it might be tacky to mention any expectation of a gift, but the fact is that many parents will feel obligated nonetheless to bring *something* and this solution allows those parents to avoid buying plastic garbage out of obligation, and help the parents of the birthday child avoid having their home cluttered by more plastic garbage.

    Sure they can donate it, but that is more time and effort put into going to the donations point and now your obligation gift has just added another burden to busy parents.

    If you have something special in mind for the particular child it might be a different case – it is a meaningful present – but for parents doing the party circuit round, it strikes me as a practical out from the cycle of meaningless consumption.

  • susanna September 26, 2017, 12:09 am

    When my son was young we started giving and asking for playdates instead of gifts from friends and he was able to pick out a gift from his parents. Sometimes I would call the other parent to take their child out to celebrate my son’s birthday/friendship. Sometimes other parents would take the initiative, some never bothered (learned who are real friends). I had fun planning outings with the kids, no one complained, sometimes we combined a group of friends together. Long term friends were later given small photo albums with pictures of them together over the years. The idea being a toy may break but no one can take away your memories.

  • Elisabeth September 26, 2017, 10:51 am

    Who’s to say that the parents really are making little Timmy donate part of his money?

    It’s unfair to force this kind of adult mentality on a kid. There’s a story in one of my favorite books of all time…

    A little boy who comes from a very poor family desperately wants a rocking horse for Christmas. He stands outside the shop every day with his nose against the glass, admiring the beautiful, expensive horse. He wants nothing more than that horse. One day, the horse has a “SOLD” sign hanging on it, and the little boy imagines that maybe someone has bought the horse for him. On Christmas morning, of course there is no rocking horse for him, but instead his father has personally whittled a tiny wooden horse just for him.

    At this point, the person listening to the story says “Oh, and that was worth more than all the expensive horses in the world!”

    And the storyteller says “No, because you’re a selfish little bugger when you’re seven.”

    Kids don’t understand charity the same way that adults do. While it’s good to nip greed in the bud and discourage the child from focusing on getting lots of toys and junk instead of celebrating with friends and family…saying “You have to give away the money instead of being able to buy toys,” and removing that personal aspect of their friends getting to pick a toy just for them, is not the correct way to do it.

    • Tanz September 28, 2017, 7:55 pm

      It’s one the discworld books! Isn’t it Albert explaining something to Death?

      It’s a great piece though, and a great reminder to tailor any lessons to the emotional level of the child.

    • Kate 2 October 3, 2017, 11:52 am

      Not all kids are “selfish little buggers” when they are seven.

    • Anonymous October 4, 2017, 6:51 am

      It’s a story that serves as a life lesson on how to teach kids life lessons. How meta.

      • Anonymous October 4, 2017, 6:58 am

        Or, actually, it’s a story about a story that’s a life lesson, and the original story serves as a life lesson on how to teach kids life lessons.

  • Tanz September 28, 2017, 7:54 pm

    I agree that kids need to be taught about charity and money, but the time to do that is *not* at the birthday party. Birthday parties are opportunities for teaching about selecting appropriate gifts within a budget, and accepting gifts graciously.

    And I’m also a little annoyed at the whole “Oh I’m a working parent and far too busy for that sort of thing (present buying)”. I have 4 kids and a full time job and I can find time to take them to the mall to buy gifts for birthday parties they’re invited to. And I do it not because I’m a ‘good person’ but because they have a relationship with that child, and a present on the occasion of the birthday is part of that friendship relationship. I’m raising children to be full human beings. And besides, we’re talking small children here, so there’ll only be a few kids at the party… it’s not like teens who want to invite the whole class!

    • Kate 2 October 3, 2017, 12:09 pm

      Oh yeah, that part made me mad. It seems like a bit of a humble brag.

      If you are truly too busy to take your kids to buy a gift for their friend(s) you are too busy. Something needs to change.

      It is weird the things people find time for though. They are “too busy” to be polite, but they find 2 hours every week and the money for a mani-pedi at the salon, etc.

      I have a pet peeve about this, a lot of people admire my knitting, say they wish they had the time to knit, then go on and on about how busy they are. I tell them, I knit while I watch tv, while standing in line, and so on. I know that plenty of these people spend hours watching tv with nothing in their hands. And that’s fine! When I watch a really good show, or just don’t feel like knitting I do that too.

      It is the feigned desire to knit, like they think it makes them a better person, and the “I’m so busy” humble bragging that irks me! I think they are kin to those people who are always “almost done” reading “Moby Dick” or a Tolstoy book, when they really just say it to look good, and have been “almost done” for a decade!

  • Leigh September 29, 2017, 12:06 pm

    I think the actual solution, in a perfect world, would be to put the RSVP number or e-mail on the invitation. Then the parent/guardian/guest can RSVP properly, and ask, “What might little Flerbert like for his birthday?” The host can, after telling the guest that they are not obligated to bring anything at all of course, mention that Flerbert enjoys interpretive dance, watching the Weather Channel, and the color orange. The guest can take it from there.

    I think the less information one places on an invitation might (possibly, one can hope) prompt people to call or e-mail to RSVP to ask.

    But we don’t live in a perfect world. (sigh).

    • Anonymous October 4, 2017, 1:52 pm

      Okay, it’s settled……..Flerbert’s getting a gift certificate for self-defense lessons. No, but seriously, here’s how that scenario usually happens:

      Flerbert’s birthday is coming up. Mr. and Mrs. Herbert want to plan a party for Flerbert, but either don’t have a class directory, or it hasn’t been printed yet because it’s too early in the year, or half the parents have opted out, because of privacy regulations–since the school can’t make it mandatory. So, that leaves the old-school method of packing the invitations in Flerbert’s backpack to hand out at school…….combined with the NEW-school edict of “invitations distributed at school must be for the whole class.” The invitations for Flerbert’s party make it into all 30 kids’ desks/cubbies/whatever they have, but only about half of the kids remember to put them in their backpacks, let alone tell their parents about the party. So, some parents might not even find out until the day before, at which point, Flerbert’s getting cash in a card, or whatever gift certificate is available at the grocery store/drugstore/whatever that’s directly on the way to the Herbert residence, along with a lot of “No” RSVP’s, because Flerbert’s party conflicts with ballet/swimming/soccer/gymnastics/Debutots/Scouts/Suzuki violin lessons/early S.A.T. prep, which just can’t be missed. Poor Flerbert is heartbroken at the low attendance at his birthday party, and wonders if it’s because of his unusual interests, because of his parents, who named him Flerbert, or both.

  • Darshiva September 30, 2017, 8:28 pm

    IMO, if you want to teach a child about money management, you don’t make it about half-donation and half-toys.

    You make it about saving part of their income for the future, paying a part as “taxes,” part for charity, part for something they need (such as buying their own clothes or school supplies), and part for something they want. There’s a basic budget, right there. When they get older, the part for something they need will take up the vast majority of their income, and the taxes will become real, if they make enough money in a year to actually be in a tax bracket.

    I’d recommend the “taxes” go into a savings account that you don’t tell the children about, and when they move out, the “tax rebate” you give them will be very helpful in establishing themselves on their own. My parents did something similar after having us pay rent, once we became legal adults, even though we were still living at home, for a while.

    My point it, this half-donation, half-toys is not going to teach the child about money management. It’s going to teach the child that they only get part of the gifts people give them, and that any money they actually do get should only be spent on toys. Not good, at all.

  • Redblues October 12, 2017, 1:35 am

    When I was a kid I HATED getting money instead of gifts. My parents kept it. They put it in a savings account to which I had no access, ever, not even after I became an adult. I couldn’t even have it when I went to college, which I paid for myself. Still, I had to write thank you notes to anyone who gave me money. It did not make me grateful, it made me angry that I was robbed, and had to say thank you for the experience.
    Just because the parents like something, doesn’t mean the kids do.

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