≡ Menu

The New Trend In Birthday Parties Makes Poor Sense

So, what is the newest and “best birthday party trend” ever? It’s the Fiver Party…

“Archie is having a fiver party! He really wants a (name big ticket gift item) so instead of bringing him a gift, please pop a $5 note in a card to go towards this. He’s very excited! Thank you.”

Instead of inviting your child’s little friends and classmates to a birthday party where gifts are purchased and given to the birthday child, the invitation instructs the parent to place a $5 bill in a card to be given to the birthday child to pay for a single expensive gift. If $5 isn’t enough to cover the cost of that big ticket gift, there is such a thing as a “tenner party”. Yep, guests bring a $10 bill.

Lana Hallowes, writing for Babyology.com, details a few of the advantages she sees in this new trend:

1. It’s easy on parents. No more needing to dash to the shops to buy a present and then wondering if the birthday girl already has a rainbow My Little Pony or too much Duplo.
2. It’s budget friendly. If your child gets invited to lots of parties and you spend say $20 each time on a gift, it adds up, especially when little ones start school and the ENTIRE class is invited to the parties.
3. It removes the expectation of ‘stuff’ from birthdays. It teaches kids that parties are about friends and having fun, not piles of presents. It also teaches them the value of saving for something that they really want.
4. It’s environmentally friendly. How many toys end up in landfill after being loved for a period of time and then ignored?
5. It cuts down on toy clutter. t Fewer toys mean fewer things to have to toss, give away or donate to charity when the time comes.
6. The child gets one big and exciting present that they’ve been dreaming about. Not lots of little cheap ones that break and have bits that get lost. 

The irony, if you read to the end of the article, is that Ms. Hallowes not only gives her son’s friend $5 but also a small gift which included stickers. Yet another cluttery gift that will end up in a landfill.

But let’s break down those alleged “pros” of having a fiver party…

1. It’s easy on the parents of the birthday child because they are not obligated to bear the entire financial burden of providing their child a big ticket gift. Crowd sourcing the funding to get your kid nice things is easy!

2. It’s one thing when guests take the initiative to get together and pool their money to buy one gift thus being more budget friendly. It’s entirely another issue when parents of the recipient orchestrate the collection of money to benefit a family member.

3. It adds the expectation that birthday = money and that you can corral your friends into funding big ticket items. Five or ten dollars may be a sufficient amount of money at age 5 but by teen years, that dollar amount will increase. It teaches kids that friends are to be used to fund raise and the more “friends” you invite, the more money you get. It teaches them nothing about the value of saving since the concept of saving implies sacrifice, work and frugality to achieve the necessary funds to pay for what you desire. This is not to be confused with what is actually happening at a fiver party, i.e. that it is a fund raiser.

4. Recycle toys. There is a huge industry in selling second hand toys in consignment shops. And if playing the “let’s be environmental friendly” card, be sure your adult hobbies, work are just as environmentally friendly.

5. Books make great gifts, too. There are children who request donations to their favorite charity, Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes or a food pantry for example, instead of personal gifts. How about a “canner party” where guests bring their favorite canned food item to be given to the local food bank?

6. The child may get one big and exciting present but it did not come from the parents who clearly needed the financial assistance from others. The parents did not model saving, personal sacrifice and a hard work ethic to their child but rather how best to extract cash from people to get what you want.

{ 93 comments… add one }
  • Rinme January 10, 2019, 4:27 am

    I like the version where a group of parents unite to buy a single big-ticket gift. But specifying that you want money, gives me a cringey feeling.

    • admin January 10, 2019, 6:20 am

      Nothing wrong whatsoever for guests taking the initiative to say, “Hey, let’s pool our money for one big gift”. Big faux pas when either the birthday kid or a parent takes the initiative to solicit cash from people.

  • Shoegal January 10, 2019, 7:27 am

    You can come up with the pros and cons of anything. The cons aren’t as convincing IMO. Throwing $5 in a card sounds fantastic. Running out to buy who knows what for some kid you don’t know is a chore I don’t relish. I’ve seen my sisters and brothers drowning in a sea of toys in every room. They can well afford to buy the big ticket items but I don’t think any one of them would say no to this idea because it looks like a fund raiser. You can buy a cup of coffee for $5 – this isn’t a ton of cash and an absolute savings in my book.

    • Leigh January 10, 2019, 9:54 am

      I get what you’re saying, Shoegal, and maybe within a family it’s a good idea, but if my child had come home with a party invitation demanding that I give their kid cash instead of a present, we most likely wouldn’t have gone to the party at all, because the real message to guests is, “Give me your money and I’ll decide how to spend it,” rather than “Oh my goodness, you got me a gift, thank you so much for thinking of me.” It doesn’t teach kids how to be gracious at accepting gifts, nor does it teach them how to be hosts, but it does eliminate the need to learn social skills or to build up any kind of relationship with others when all you really care about is that they give you their money so you can get what you want.

    • Corvonn January 10, 2019, 11:56 am

      I agree that throwing $5 in a card sounds fantastic, if I make the decision to do so. The *asking* for that is what is not fantastic. It just comes off as tacky to me. If you can’t afford to buy your child that big ticket item, then don’t. I detest having a room full of unused toys also. So I request no gifts. I just really don’t like the idea of asking other people for money or dictating what is an acceptable offering to my demon spawn.

    • lakey January 10, 2019, 2:05 pm

      “Running out to buy who knows what for some kid you don’t know is a chore I don’t relish. I’ve seen my sisters and brothers drowning in a sea of toys in every room. ”

      These are real issues in some communities. I’ve seen it myself. However, I think there are ways of alleviating all of this without soliciting cash from people you aren’t even very close to. One big solution would be for parents to take a hard look at the frequency of birthday parties and the size of the guest list. One idea would be to invite just your child’s closest friends, rather than the entire class. You do this by not passing out invitations at school. I did my student teaching in 1972. Between then and now the birthday party almost every year, where the whole class is invited, phenomenon has exploded. I can see where it is a burden. I just don’t think that being told to fork over $5 is a good solution.

      As far as people who are drowning in toys, or who are getting duplicates, stash them away until the Christmas season when various groups are having toy collections.

      • Rinme January 11, 2019, 1:21 am

        Well, in my area, it’s considered exceptionally rude not to invite the entire class, or at least all kids of the same gender as yours. There are generally 35 kids in a classroom.

        Not attending a party is also frowned upon, and can hurt the child’s social standing.

        This is not in any way related to gifts. It’s done in order to prevent some of the kids being isolated, prevent parties where nobody shows up, and to teach good social manners.

        • admin January 11, 2019, 7:35 am

          How is it good to teach children that an invitation is a command performance that they cannot decline or else suffer irrevocable social damage? How do young hosts learn to graciously acknowledge the decline of an invitation if all invitations are really mandatory “must come” summonses?

          And no kids out of an guest list of 35 classmates show up? Maybe your kid is the class bully.

          What about the not so novel plan of mom bringing enough cupcakes for the entire class after lunch, everyone sings “Happy Birthday” and enjoys a cupcake and then school work day continues. That worked exceedingly well in my childhood and my kids’. Or is it that children today MUST have a big birthday party with all the bells, whistles, guests, gifts and cash?

          35 children per classroom? If they all had a birthday party, that’s almost averages to 4 parties a month per 9 month school year. Or pity the kids whose birthdays fall during a school break or between grades and there are no fellow classmates to invite. They have no opportunity to cash in big, rake in the gifts or gain social standing.

          Yeah, cupcakes for everyone and call it a day.

          • Rinme January 11, 2019, 9:27 am

            Well, not everyone throws a big party, but if one does throw a party, the entire class must be invited.

            Parents often unite 2-3 kids for a single party, to make it more affordable, and the holiday kids still have their parties during the school year.

            I absolutely believe the “everyone shows up” policy is the right thing to do. It teaches kids to be there for their friends, and protects the socially weaker kids from being devastated when no one shows up.

          • Ripple January 11, 2019, 1:10 pm

            A lot, if not most, schools have done away with the bringing of cupcakes to a class due to food allergies, dietic restrictions, etc. I once knew a girl who was allergic to both regular milk (this was long before soy milk and such) and chocolate and so would have had problems with any cupcakes brought in. She was good about policing herself, but not all kids can be that strong-willed.

          • KenderJ January 11, 2019, 5:17 pm

            In my area, due to allergies, food restrictions, nutritional guidelines, etc., parents are not allowed to bring food to be shared with the class. Also due to differing levels of parental involvement, religions, philosophies, many schools in my area no longer allow class birthday parties. They can acknowledge that it is so and so’s birthday today during calendar time, but that is the extent of it.

          • admin January 12, 2019, 7:53 am

            So instead the school board mandates that ALL of the classmates be invited to any party that is being hosted off school premises, where the hosting parents can choose to serve all manner of allergenic food items? What is next? The school board dictating what hosting parents must serve at these private parties lest the peanut, gluten and dairy allergic kids do not feel left out?

          • Anonymous January 14, 2019, 7:38 pm

            Well, it’s one thing to turn down a birthday party invitation (or, worse yet, just ignore it, or RSVP yes and then not show up), but it’s another thing to say no because of a previous engagement. Most kids’ birthday parties are held on the weekends, but that’s also when things like soccer games, dance recitals, community theatre shows, camping trips for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, are scheduled, and isn’t it also important to teach kids to honour the commitments they made to those groups?

          • Pixi January 16, 2019, 8:38 am

            Sounds wonderful until you’re the summer child in the school. How do you explain to a child that all classmates got big parties and everyone came, but no one comes to their party because of vacations etc? Especially if their siblings have birthdays during the school year.

            Or what if you’re that socially awkward child who would rather just have his or her close friends and not have to entertain a large group, or perhaps you know that the only reason you’re being invited is because they have to, and not because they want to.

            Believe me I know the pain of being ostracized at a birthday party.

            As a child growing up we were poor enough that most of our toys were second hand, second hand toys, second hand clothes, second hand books, the only time we got new stuff was birthdays and Christmas or if we saved up enough for it on our own.

          • Natalia May 14, 2019, 5:05 pm

            Kids do also invite friends they may not go to school with…such as neighbors, friends from extracurricular activities outside of school, friends from church, etc. At my school you only had to invite the whole class or all the girls or boys in the class if you passed out invitations at school. If you mailed them, it didn’t matter who you invited. With my kids they usually invited all the girls in their class, plus some of the girls in other classes. They also invited friends from church and neighborhood friends.

        • jazzgirl205 January 14, 2019, 10:02 am

          RSVP and a phone number. Please let the hosts know beforehand if you are not coming. Just not showing is indeed bad manners. This is on the parents. Unfortunately, parents are notorious for not sending regrets for children’s parties. Proper regrets should be emphasized rather than forced participation.

          • Natalia May 15, 2019, 12:47 pm

            If our kids couldn’t attend we had them call the host to let them know. We also called to RSVP..”Yes.”

            There were times my girls couldn’t go to birthday parties. That’s life

    • admin January 10, 2019, 3:52 pm

      Why are you accepting an invitation to a party for a child you have never met? In other words, the birthday child is not part of your family’s social circle nor your child’s after school play sphere. Basically your kid has been invited with the rest of the classroom to increase the birthday child’s financial gain. Like a cattle call where there’s a value per each head of cattle.

      • Yolanda January 10, 2019, 4:02 pm

        It’s not unusual to not know all of your child’s friends. The kids have every school day to forge their friendships. The parents, on the other hand, do not go to school together, so, they don’t necessarily meet each other or their children’s friends.

      • Lynne January 10, 2019, 5:26 pm

        As a young child, I did not regularly spend any time with my friends outside of school or school activities, other than at birthday parties, which I enjoyed very much. It was a small school, and a common practice to invite everyone to everyone’s parties. I don’t think that a class party has to be considered a “cattle call.” Ours felt like genuine community.

        • Natalia May 14, 2019, 5:08 pm

          When I was growing up, who was invited to parties really varied. Since I went to the local public school, most of my neighborhood friends were also in my grade at school. I also invited friends from church. Plus, my siblings usually invited a friend or two as well.

      • lakey January 10, 2019, 6:41 pm

        In many schools there is a requirement that if invitations are passed out at school, then all students in the class, or all students of the same gender, must be invited. This is to avoid a situation where a couple of unpopular kids have to watch everyone but themselves receive an invitation. The result of this is large parties where a lot of the guests aren’t particularly friendly with the birthday child. Many parents don’t do this because they want a lot of gifts for their child, or they love having 28 kids at a party. They do it because it has become common. The way around it is to not pass out the invitations at school. I suspect that a lot of parents would prefer having just their child’s close friends as guests. And I suspect that a lot of the guests’ parents would prefer to not have to deal with their kids attending multiple parties for children they don’t even play with.

        • KenderJ January 11, 2019, 5:08 pm

          I think it depends on where you live. In my area, even if you give out the invites outside of school, if you are inviting more than two students from your child’s class you must invite the whole class. This does seem to be an effort to counter the exclusion of one or two unpopular kids by giving the invites outside of school.

          • admin January 12, 2019, 7:58 am

            Really? Parents have yielded authority to the school board, which is a department of the local government, to determine how they must host a private party on private property? Wow. I don’t believe it is any school board’s business who I choose to invite to a party that is being paid for be me, hosted by me on my personal property. Is the school board also monitoring the US postal service to screen for how many invitations a parents mails to other child guests?

        • BeachMum January 15, 2019, 10:44 am

          I always ignored this. I was actually once called on it (the Director of the preschool told me that it wasn’t acceptable that I didn’t invite every child in my daughter’s class). I asked her what she was going to do about it. (I had mailed invitations and had told my child many times no to talk about the party at school.) She sputtered, but had no answer. There is nothing that an administrator can do to enforce this stupid rule. Yes, some of the parents are sure that their little snowflakes will be ‘devastated’ that they weren’t invited to someone’s party, but they really aren’t.

          We stopped inviting every kid (and their parents and siblings) when we had 60 people for my younger daughter’s third birthday.

          • Natalia May 14, 2019, 5:20 pm

            We always mailed out the invitations and I told my kids not to talk about it at school. My Ds went to a small school and they usually invited all the girls in their class, which is only about 9 people total. They also invited friends from the neighborhood, church, and dance class. It usually totaled 25 people at the most, not including parents who stayed to chat/help out. In some cases people invite cousins, older/younger sibling’s friends to the party. Plus, I’ve been to parties where the babysitter is there to help out or the attendees parents are there as well.

            My niece recently had a pool party for her 15th birthday. She invited a ton of friends from school plus friends from her dance class and church. Her parents also invited all her aunts, uncles and cousins…

      • jokergirl129 January 10, 2019, 7:53 pm

        Pretty much what lakey said. This isn’t the first time I heard mention that schools have a rule where if an invitation is being passed out at school (or in class whichever one it is) then the entire class of the birthday boy/girl has to be invited. It’s pretty much the schools way to prevent bullying or from having kids feeling left out even though in my opinion this rule doesn’t necessarily prevent that because then you have kids being invited that aren’t really wanted and not many parents want or can host 28 or more kids at once.

        So parents get around this rule by finding other means of inviting their child’s friends to the party without the risk of invited a whole classroom worth.

        • at work January 12, 2019, 1:45 pm

          To Admin — some parents are fully in favor of the “every child must receive an invitation” rule and do not see it as yielding authority to the school board, but as enforcing equal treatment in the social sense.

          • admin January 13, 2019, 5:21 pm

            Some parents? Not all? It is somewhat ironic that people expect the government to step in to force equality among children because the parents are too inept to do this themselves. As for the “mandate” that if invitations are to be handed on school property during school hours to all classmates…all I can say is that it is beyond pathetic when the school board has to create a rule because the parents are either 1) too crass to not know that such obvious invitations are rude regardless of whether it’s a child’s birthday party or a wedding, or 2) the parents are too lazy to get the addresses of their child’s friends and mail invitations.

          • Natalia May 14, 2019, 5:21 pm

            Some parents would love to invite their child’s whole class, but the kid also wants to invite friends from outside of school…

  • Outdoor Girl January 10, 2019, 7:44 am

    I’m with Shoegal; not really seeing the downside, here. Plus, no time is taken away from the party to open all the gifts.

  • Alda January 10, 2019, 7:45 am

    I have held many parties for kids, and taken my kids to a lot of parties. $5 (hey! even $20) in a card would be awesome! Having a party, even at home costs a lot of money – this isn’t being done to make money. I’ve had to say no to parties my kids were invited to because, in my area, $25 is the least you spend on a gift. This isn’t being done to crowdsource funds – it is to limit the amount of toys/gifts back to a reasonable level, where nobody is left feeling like a cheapskate. I am all for it, and wish the practice had been around when my children were school aged.

  • A January 10, 2019, 7:55 am

    I know that my experience is a pretty specific case, but as a stepmom who has taken my stepkids to birthday parties, I like this idea. I generally didn’t know the kids and trying to ask an 8-10 year old what their friend likes can be difficult. If my kids told me that their friend wanted $5 or $10, it would have saved a ton of frustration. Although, I agree that canned goods or books would be just as easy, it would still be a situation of the child or the parents letting us know what to bring.

  • ladyv21454 January 10, 2019, 8:09 am

    Parents who do this are raising the kind of kids that will want their friends to help fund their weddings later in life. When my son was young, there was a gaming system he really wanted that cost around $200. His dad and I told him that if he could save up half the money, we would pay the other half. He used his allowance money, did chores for neighbors, etc. until he had the money saved up – including half of the tax! There were times that there were smaller things he wanted, but he sacrificed those to save for the one big thing.

  • staceyizme January 10, 2019, 8:21 am

    On the one hand, it’s practical, simple and provides a level playing field.
    On the other, it exposes the children’s birthday party, once considered the acceptable exception” to the “no soliciting gifts”/ “no honoring yourself” rule, as being more about self-interest than about young learning to be good hosts, guests and honorees.
    It’s about time to abandon these forms, along with baby showers. They’ve devolved from two events where some latitude was permitted with respect to gifts to something less charming. And, it could reasonably be asserted, that these exceptions have led to the expectation of open-ended interest and largesse on the part of friends and family of the birthday or bany shower honoree that is lifelong.

    • lakey January 10, 2019, 1:44 pm

      So well stated.

      • gramma dishes January 10, 2019, 8:51 pm

        Yes indeed.

  • Miss R January 10, 2019, 9:00 am

    I volunteer at a food pantry and we LOVE it when a kid comes in with donations s/he has collected in lieu of b’day presents!!! They get their pic on our FB page too if they wish!! Sometimes it is all pet food which is great too. Way to bring your kids up right.

  • Devin January 10, 2019, 9:29 am

    I’m torn by this ‘new’ concept, and I’ve seen several of my friends sharing this article on social media. Most of them are working moms who think it’s a great idea because it reduces the burden of shopping for parties and throwing them. In the ideal world, the child would shop for their friends gift and pick out something they’d like within budget, but that assumes the priveledge of free time on the parents part and expendable income, usually more than $5. In the real world this is the mom grabbing something while out doing routine shopping at a mega mart, or throwing whatever toy is trending into their online cart on amazon. They may have their kid fill out the card, but that’s usually the extent of their involvement. Or the parent stressed over buying a gift because of cost because either their toy will look cheap next to the name brands, or they’ll spend more than they really wanted to.
    I’ve already seen blogs about using this trend to do charity drives, and one friend’s daughter used her fivers to shop for pet toys and then go to the shelter to hand them out in person!
    I think handled correctly, you can still teach hosting skills, gracious gift giving and receiving, and if the child also writes thank you notes…it’s a win!!

  • Heather January 10, 2019, 9:48 am

    I’m a mom (kids now grown) and yes, it is a real pain to think about, take the time and buy gifts for a lot of kids… many of whom you don’t know. But the party is about the celebration… not the reward. I remember one year, my son had a birthday party and one little boy didn’t bring a gift. I was miffed for a few seconds I’ll admit… but then I thought to myself: maybe the mother didn’t have the money. Should the little boy have missed out on a party because of something so silly? The obvious answer is no. So, I say, suck it up and buy the gifts. Don’t break your bank, but buy the gifts and remember that the children enjoy the party together. What I always found more irritating was what to do for the party? When I realized that my kids (and their friends) were really just happy to be together, I stopped making thing complicated in the planning department. Both my kids took karate and the sensei was particularly good with children. For many years, I arranged to have my son’s birthday parties at the dojo. I brought in cake, snacks and drinks and the the kids went to town, learning “fun” karate. They loved it!

  • Meegs January 10, 2019, 9:51 am

    While I agree that in theory it is tacky, I have to admit that in practice I absolutely love the idea. As the mother of a five year old, I wouldn’t mind at all if this idea caught on.

  • JD January 10, 2019, 10:19 am

    You know, there is nothing stopping anyone right now from simply sticking a five or ten in a card and giving that to the birthday kid at the next birthday party, even when one has not been asked to do so by the host. Yes the fact that it makes it easier on the gift giver is correct, but it doesn’t require a “fiver” party to give such a gift. The fact that the host parents are basically running a funding drive for a big toy they don’t want to have to pay for by themselves, that just seems wrong.

    • KM January 11, 2019, 6:27 pm

      This idea is absolutely not about fundraising or parents trying to get others to pay for a “big ticket item.” $5 is a fraction of what is an acceptable amount to spend on a gift (without getting a rep as a cheapskate), so no one is going to put just $5 in an envelope outside of a party like this. It costs FAR more than $5 a kid to throw a party (the loot bags alone usually cost more than that). People are getting their knickers in a twist over nothing. In my area, it’s been $10, with $5 to a charity and $5 to some lego set or something. All parents involved can well afford the normal $20/25 per gift but this teaches kids parties are not all about presents AND about charity.

      • admin January 13, 2019, 5:25 pm

        50% of cash received for you (the charity) and 50% cash for me. You are still teaching the child that it is financially advantageous to ask for cash for their birthday and assuaging their innate awkwardness by justifying it as a charity fundraiser. It only works to teach them about charity when 100% of the proceeds actually goes to charity.

        • KM January 14, 2019, 4:42 pm

          Kids don’t think about something being “financially advantageous.” They just don’t. I have three and they have been to more birthday parties than I can count. They don’t think about the value of the gifts they get either. The trend where we live is that kids don’t even open the gifts at the parties because it takes too long. In all the years of parties, I think gifts were opened at 2. Kids just want to play and they get far more excited about going out to choose something than having a mountain of stuff bought by adults who don’t know them and the money gets spent anyway. People can get huffy about this if they like but you’re projecting a negative life lesson onto a situation where none is taking place. It only lasts a few years because as kids form stronger friendships, the number of parties drops waaaay down by grade 3 and after that it’s just a few kids instead of the whole darn class. I for one am very happy the $500 parties are behind me – no one wants to host 25 kids at their house either, so the destination party has become the go-to

      • jazzgirl205 January 14, 2019, 10:25 am

        I raised my daughter in a very affluent area. When she was invited to her first birthday party, I spent $20 on a gift. When the gifts were opened I felt very embarrassed because all the other gifts were under $12 and it looked as if I were showing off. Most of the parties, while in quite beautiful houses, were lunch, cake and ice cream, and balloon affairs. The birthday child greeted every child personally and personally bid them farewell when they left. I’m sure the birthday child was heavily coached to show proper and equal enthusiasm as they opened each gift (I know mine was). All the children had a lot of fun. This was only 10 years ago. These are the type of parties that teach the children how to be good hosts.

    • NicoleDSK January 12, 2019, 1:20 pm

      No. That would make you look cheap when everyone else is spending twenty.

      The suggestion by the parentsnis that everyone spend LESS not more

      • JD January 14, 2019, 11:50 am

        A guest is free to put any amount in the card if he or she thinks five dollars looks cheap. I wasn’t limiting it to that amount. And there is simply no way to know what the ones who brought toys or clothes spent. Sometimes they are a re-gift, or bought on clearance. How to tell who is cheap there?
        My point was that giving cash in a card is fine for a kid’s birthday gift, but for the hosts to ask for it to be given, is not.
        As for what the hosts spend on the guests, haven’t we established on this site that gift giving is not to “repay” for what was spent on the guest, i.e. paying as a gift the amount you think the wedding reception cost the couple per guest? If the host wants to spend twenty bucks on each guest, it’s not the guests’ responsibility to repay with a gift of that amount.

  • MrsSML January 10, 2019, 10:35 am

    I actually really like this idea primarily from an environmental standpoint. I see so many kids getting cheaply made toys that break and, once broken, cannot be recycled. It bothers me because these were never toys that kids specifically wanted but more toys that were given out of obligation. The carbon footprint that gifts like this create is really appalling once you consider factory, transportation, and store emissions.
    My suggestion? Give experiences. Have the birthday kid over for a pizza sleepover or give them movie tickets. And if money is a concern? There are so many inexpensive DIY gifts that kids tend to love. Or, if the kid is a gamer or likes apps? An iTunes or X-Box gift card so that they can get some cool new content always goes over well and shows that you know the kid’s interests.

  • DGS January 10, 2019, 11:00 am

    Meh…not a huge deal unless the family solicits the $5 or $10. In our circle, for child birthday parties, either one purchases a toy that a child wants or a gift card in a small amount (ideally, the child attending the party participates in the choosing and purchasing of a gift).

  • Harry's Mom January 10, 2019, 11:36 am

    I suppose there are two ways to look at this. Yes, it’s easy for the adults but not sure what it teaches the kids. Getting a gift for someone takes time and energy, but it forces a person to think of someone besides themselves, and can have some valuable life lessons for children. That said, growing up my Grandparents were on the east coast, so we rarely saw them and rather than purchasing/mailing gifts, we always got a card with a crisp 5.00 bill in it. Back in the early 60’s this was considered a lot of money and we always looked forward to it.

  • Lara January 10, 2019, 11:36 am

    I’m sorry, but I can’t take such a dire view of this. As a mom, I can see all kinds of advantages to this, and the fact is that if you send out invites and say nothing about gifts, other parents will spend way more than $5, so I cannot accept it as greedy. Compared to the piles of expensive items you see at some parties, it’s positively modest. And how is it wrong to teach your child that it’s better to have one good quality thing you want than lots of cheap stuff? That seems a pretty good lesson to me.

    Yes, I can get that telling people what gift to get is inherently tacky, but when you’re saying “get me less” rather than “get me more,” I think that can be forgiven. I certainly can’t agree with heaping up horrible motives on it, and what your child learns from it depends on you, and how you do it.

    The fact is that cash as a gift is just the way things are going. We’re a really wealthy society, so that most people don’t have to depend on the kindness of others to buy household goods (weddings), or toys, or anything small we find desirable. The only things that we don’t ordinarily buy ourselves are more expensive luxury items, and this is increasingly true of kids too, especially older ones. People who give gifts want the recipient to actually like and enjoy what they give, and it’s stupid to have people keep buying and receiving stuff no one actually wants because no one’s willing to speak up and say “I’d just rather have cash. ” Most people would rather have $5 they can put toward something they actually want than a $100 item they have no need for. And being willing to say that relieves everyone of the burden–both of buying something you can’t afford because you have to “give a nice gift,” and of pretending to love it. I would love to know that I could send a $5 bill and not be thought cheap, but until the person I ‘m giving it to tells me that I’m going to keep looking for something “better.”

    • admin January 13, 2019, 5:34 pm

      Interestingly there is a comment in the moderation log from a previous post about selfie birthday parties in which the person writes, “And in our part of the world (uk) throwing your own birthday party is entirely acceptable (so long as you dont expect the guests to contribute monetarily)”. And here we are discussing the “newest trend” in birthday parties where money is not only expected, guests are informed how much and how to give it. We’re raising a generation of children who will believe they are entitled to a birthday party (it’s so financially advantageous!) and expecting their guests to give money because that’s the tradition.

  • bopper January 10, 2019, 11:49 am

    Sometimes you don’t know what you would like until someone gives you something you never would have thought of.

  • Ivy January 10, 2019, 12:10 pm

    I haven’t yet experienced that trend but it sounds like a great idea to me, especially for big parties where you don’t know the kid well. Some said it would be different is parents pool together, but I disagree – in these parties parents do not know each other well. So somebody has to go to the trouble of getting the guests contacts and approaching them. And between being asked by a stranger to contribute (via Venmo or whatever) and being asked by the host, I would much rather have the latter.

  • lakey January 10, 2019, 1:21 pm

    The problem here is the attitude of the recipient/recipient’s parents. Gifts are freely given because you care about the recipient. When the recipient specifies what they want, it looks like they think they are entitled to have others supply them with their wants/needs. If I don’t know what to get someone, I ask for suggestions. If the birthday child’s parents want him/her to “have ” expensive gift, it is their responsibility to buy it themselves.

  • saucygirl January 10, 2019, 3:33 pm

    I am of two minds of this. When my daughter was younger she only went to parties of the kids of my friends. And we did have a practice of all contributing a set amount towards one big gift for the kids birthdays. It had started at $10 and then as my friends had their second kids so numbers grew, we dropped it to $7. It was great for all the reasons given – ease of shop, not a lot of small stuff, etc.

    Then we moved out of state and she made school friends. And I hated those parties for all the reasons given – the stress of buying for a kid I didn’t know. Spending $20 on a gift for a kid I didn’t know (especially after only spending $7 on the kids of my closest friends!). So just putting a $5 or $10 bill in a card is beautiful.

    BUT, I agree that you have to be careful with con #3 – inviting larger numbers of people just to get more money towards the gift. This is where the parents still have a chance to teach the kids manners, ethics, money management, etc.

    • Jazzgirl205 January 14, 2019, 10:36 am

      I never had a problem buying an inexpensive gift for children I didn’t know. My go tos were: I ream of copier paper and 64 crayons, vintage boy or girl scout handbooks, small binoculars and a book on birds, play doh. Just think about what normal kids like to do.

      • Natalia May 14, 2019, 5:35 pm

        I remember one time one of my daughters went to a classmate’s birthday party and we bought the birthday girl the “Littlest Pet Shop” game. She got 4 of those games…it was the popular birthday gift that year. I remember my older D got several Sky Dancer toys….and another year she told everyone that she wanted an easy bake oven when they asked her what she wanted for her birthday….luckily, she only got one! That’s a problem we ran into frequently…
        For kids we didn’t know too well, we’d ask the parents what they liked. When the kids got older it was easier..usually you could buy gift cards or for the girls stuff from Bath and Body Works. My D was so happy at her 14th birthday party when she got two of the same Sweet Pea lotion and body wash sets!

  • at work January 10, 2019, 5:18 pm

    In my worldview, to give a gift is to give the recipient something I would like them to have, given with thought and affection, from me. It doesn’t really seem like a gift when I’m just following a shopping list that someone gave me (here’s what I want, go buy it). Still, putting a small amount of cash in an envelope for my child’s friend is fast and simple and definitely easier on the environment. I think I would do this without putting a lot of thought into what the parents’ motives were or whether it was violating some vague rule of etiquette.

  • Tanz January 10, 2019, 6:05 pm

    I think this is a horrible idea, and rude to boot. (Plus I had to laugh at the idea of inviting the entire class to a birthday party! I’ve never heard of that before, and I don’t understand why you’d do it, other than to be greedy and get more gifts.)

    I understand the ease of it, I’m a working mum myself. But it takes 2 minutes to text the parent and ask “what is X into?” when you RSVP. Or ask your child, this is their friend, they’ll know. As for carbon footprint/too many toys, there are ways to avoid this. You can buy books, cool school supplies or other ‘practical yet fun’ gifts (save mum and dad some money next year!), craft kits, vouchers for an experience, etc. When the kids were little I often bought colouring books as they’re always popular. And I do think there’s a lot of learning that goes into taking your kid shopping to buy for a friend; not only budgeting (how to get a cool gift for less) but also thinking about what that child would like, etc. But this just feels like a shake down for cash.

    • EchoGirl January 11, 2019, 12:19 am

      As a few people have mentioned, inviting the entire class is often done with at least the intent of being equitable and not excluding anybody. Some schools will require it if the invitations are passed out in class for fear that certain kids will get their faces rubbed in the fact that they’re usually excluded — in that case it’s not really the parents’ decision (I mean, it is, but it’s somewhat more conditional). It’s overwhelmingly something that happens with young children as most adults figure the kids can handle the matter themselves once they’re a little older. It can turn into a gift grab but I wouldn’t say that’s usually the motive.

      • admin January 11, 2019, 7:48 am

        So the government via the school board is now legally mandating how parents host birthday parties and who they must invite? The reason it has become this legalistic with government oversight is that parents have an entitled expectation that Darling Little FuFu cannot possibly manage to go through life not having an annual birthday blow out.

        • Devin January 11, 2019, 9:41 am

          I feel like this comment is very insensitive to the real reason school had to make this mandate, because children were being ostracized by their peer group, often for reasons outside of their control. Your comments and attitude in the new year seems to be much more dismissive and inherently focused on only your experiences of how family’s work or how children should be raised. Did those previous submissions but you in a negative space?

          • admin January 12, 2019, 8:41 am

            ne of my kid was deliberately ostracized when she was the only person in a large social group who was not invited to a peer’s “birthday party of the year”. It was not an accident of the invitation being lost, it was a deliberate, personal snub by the birthday girl over some private matter. It was extremely difficult for my DD who was repeatedly asked by her friends if she was going, etc. However, DD kept the snub quiet, did not expose this former friend to ridicule and we made arrangements to do something unusual with the family so that she would have a good excuse to explain her absence from this huge, well funded birthday blow out.

            I don’t care who people chose to invite to their parties. However, I did have a face-to-face conversation with the mother of the birthday girl because when mom called asking to talk to me about something, my DD had answered the phone and while waiting for me to come to the phone, birthday mom proceeded to regale my daughter with all the fun things that were going to happen at this party she was not invited to attend. It was, at best, insensitive beyond words. I chose to believe it was done out of insensitivity rather than malice but I definitely got my point across to her that what she did was inexcusably rude and hurtful and to her credit she did apologize to DD for the phone comments.

            I could tell other stories of conflicts among school aged peers. One part of parenting is navigating your kids through the shoals of personal relationships. The reality of life is that not everyone is going to like you. The reasons they dislike you may have nothing to do with you at all but rather is a reflection of their needs, depravity or lack of character. Simply being perceived as the most venerable in a classroom of children intent on establishing a hierarchy is enough. No one wants to be on the bottom and kids will scramble all over each other to make sure they aren’t on that bottom rung. If the school board thinks that mandating that everyone be invited to a birthday party will resolve this, there is some delusion going on. At a party of 35 classmates, I guarantee the kids are self segregating themselves into little cliques and shunning those not deemed suitable for admission to the cliques. Not to mention forcing children to socially interact with bullies and mean kids.

            But the bottom line is this….the government, be it the county, state or federal government, has no jurisdiction legally, morally or ethically to “mandate” who I invite to a private party hosted on private property and funded with private money. As a parent I think I know best how to raise my kids and who I prefer they associate with and that may mean ostracizing the class bullies from stepping foot in my house.

        • lkb January 11, 2019, 4:34 pm

          “entitled expectation that Darling Little FuFu cannot possibly manage to go through life not having an annual birthday blow out.”

          I take exception to this. No one is saying the government is requiring all kids have birthday parties just that if a student is passing out invitations in class, the whole class (or all students of the honoree’s gender) are invited.

          This was the rule at my children’s school, for good reason. My daughter, who was very shy, was quite blatantly not invited when a female classmate ignored the rule and passed out the invitations anyway. My daughter was so hurt and the teacher was livid when she learned what had happened.

          I’d always been taught that one does not discuss events within earshot of those who have not been invited to those events in order to avoid hurt feelings. That’s why the “all or nothing” rule.

          • Natalia May 14, 2019, 5:42 pm

            At my school they just asked parents to not hand out the invitations at school unless they were inviting the whole class or all the boys or all the girls. Most parents followed that. We always mailed out my kid’s birthday party invitations. That’s common sense and common etiquette. You wouldn’t hand out wedding invitations at the office …

            The drama around birthday parties started in middle school, when people would invite everyone in the class and the party involved dancing and a DJ. If you didn’t get invited to the popular girls dance party….oh the horror!

      • Tanz January 11, 2019, 9:27 pm

        It’s not exclusionary to only invite the kids your child is close to though. And of course there will be hurt feelings but that’s life unfortunately. I have twins, and often one has been invited to a party without the other, and I point out to them that of course Lily was invited and they weren’t: the birthday child is Lily’s friend, not her twins. If a child is being mean/rude about their invites then I encourage my kids to see this as an indication of character. And kids are capable of making the distinction at a young age between so-and-so who is my friend and such-and-such who I just play with every now and again. But honestly, inviting everyone and sending money in a card in lieu of a present both sound like ways to miss what a birthday party is about.

      • Kitty January 12, 2019, 7:17 pm

        Bullying will not disappear. It’s a very sad thought, but there is just no way that people will not be ostracized or as socially popular or right out bullied. It doesn’t matter what media, school, parents, or anyone attempts.

        I think it’s worse to force your child to invite people they don’t like in their class because they now have to deal with those people even more. Especially at a party, a place that should be fun. And as one of the unpopular children, I can assure you that not being invited may not break every child. Some may be hurt, but others will not care or think it’s a good idea; they might not know the birthday kid and not feel comfortable with being around them at a party. Once again, turning what should be a fun experience into one fraught with discomfort or even anxiety.

        • Natalia May 15, 2019, 1:04 pm

          If a kid is invited to a party for a kid they don’t like, they may not want to go…

  • Brienne January 10, 2019, 6:07 pm

    I think with changing times come changing etiquette norms. Previous generations might find it abhorrent to give money rather than a carefully-chosen concrete object, but like it or not, it is becoming commonplace to give (and ask for) cash, and frankly, I think some of the objections to it are ridiculous and founded only on “that’s just not how Things are Done!”. Etiquette has always been a constantly-evolving beast. If it wasn’t, we’d all still be reading posts on this site about how horrifying it is to use the wrong fork for the fish course. So no, I don’t think it’s bad etiquette across the board to invite monetary contributions rather than concrete items, and especially not where children are concerned.

    Where you do court a breach of etiquette is in HOW the request is communicated. I think it’s perfectly okay to say “in lieu of presents, please bring $5 to put toward Junior’s new wagon.” It’s still not okay to charge admission to a party or imply that guests HAVE to bring anything, and yes, it is a little gross to allude to the cash grab in the title of the party. But I think if worded in a way that makes the contribution suggested and not voluntary, it’s actually a relief for everyone. Instead of 10 small junky toys Junior may or may not like, he has $50 to put toward one thing he DOES like and WILL enjoy. The parents of every kid coming to the party can just toss some cash in a card rather than having to make an extra Wal-Mart run and expending the emotional labor of having to choose a present for a child they may not even know that well. It’s a win-win for everyone.

    And let’s be real, even back in the dark ages, lessons about saving money also included windfalls from birthdays and holidays. This is not different and it doesn’t preclude teaching a lesson about saving up for something. Just don’t ask guests to fully fund whatever the thing is — keep the contribution small enough so that Junior and/or parents have to kick some in.

    I’ve also seen it done where hosts either ask guests to make a charitable contribution or they give a percentage of their gifts to the charitable cause of their choice, which I also like because it acknowledges their good fortune while also baking in the idea that not everyone is as fortunate.

    • ami January 12, 2019, 8:02 am

      I agree – times are changing and let’s face it, gifts are expected at children’s birthday parties in many countries. Although some children would enjoy asking for donations to charity in lieu of gifts, most children would not. And that’s ok! I think this is a great solution (and a great relief!) to the climbing costs of buying your children’s friends birthday gifts.

  • Mary Sgree January 10, 2019, 10:58 pm

    Where we live, kids really dont get toys anymore. I’ve given a lot of birthday parties and I’ve taken my kids to a lot of them, and most everyone always put a few dollars,
    Or gift card, or amazon gift cert in a card. To be told (only) $5 would be a gift to ME as usually most feel obligated to give far more than that!

  • Barney Fife January 10, 2019, 11:12 pm

    I am sure there are exceptions to the rule, but most people dont invite more kids to grab more money. The people I know spend often quite a bit of money on kids parties– roller skating parties, pizza parties–even cake, ice cream & gift bags per child usually cost far more than what a child gets in the way of a gift.

    The difference between this, and say, a wedding is that *traditionally* the bridal couple spends no money ( their parents do) so any cash given the bridal couple is entirely “profit”. That can be why so many brides get the cash-cow-crazies.

    Not so with birthday parties. If parents truly were just inviting kids to get more cash, they would obviously come out ahead NOT having the party at all.

    • Anon January 11, 2019, 12:14 pm

      Barney, I think you are absolutely correct. Parents don’t throw big parties to make sure their kids get lots of presents (or fundraise for one big present). it would be far cheaper to forgo the party altogether. I can’t see how you’d get away with spending less than $5 per child on food, drink, favors, etc. It’s not about profit. I think parents who do fiver parties are really looking to make things easier on their fellow parents, and to avoid the toy clutter trap. This wouldn’t bother me in the slightest.

  • Nina J. Hodgson January 11, 2019, 8:59 am

    Remember the bride who charged her guests $1,500 to attend her wedding? This is how it starts.

  • lisa marie January 11, 2019, 1:45 pm

    After seeing my financially struggling children spending $20 almost every week for birthday gifts for my grandkids friends, this seems like a great idea. They were spending money they couldn’t afford (and also throwing theme place birthday parties they couldn’t afford) just to keep up for their kids. I too, saw my grandkids with an overabundance of toys they didn’t really care about. We need a new trend like this $5 cash idea.

  • Brenda January 11, 2019, 2:02 pm

    My kids have never been invited to a ‘fiver’ and this is the first I’ve heard of it. But that is my go-to gift. Usually a candy bar and $5 or $10 bill in a card. Often I have my kid make/write the card. Usually, the candy is eaten right away and then they can get whatever they want with the money. I always stay within my budget, not what everyone else is spending. I live in a smaller country town, so maybe that helps it be more acceptable.

  • Teapot January 11, 2019, 2:07 pm

    My birthday is Christmas Eve. I never had a birthday party because my mother refused to ask other parents to spend money on a gift for me when they were already spending their hard-earned money buying gifts for their own kids. Somehow I survived!

    • Catherine St Clair January 14, 2019, 10:13 am

      My mother had the same problem-born on Christmas eve. Even the family gave her only one gift, always wrapped in Christmas paper, and she was told that the one gift was for both her birthday and for Christmas. My brother and I were both born in August. Mom planned ahead. No one was going to one-gift her children!

  • cdp January 11, 2019, 3:19 pm

    I like this idea in part because it helps to mitigate socio-economic differences and the effect of not necessarily cash-strapped but “cheap” parents, avoiding lavish spending to impress, and children stigmatized for lack of lavishness.

  • NicoleDSK January 12, 2019, 1:14 pm

    Wow. I wISH I could just spend five bucks on birthday presents. As a parent of a gues this sounds amazing to me.

  • Kitty January 12, 2019, 7:01 pm

    I do not understand this concept of inviting the entire class for one kid’s birthday party. It was not a thing when I grew up in Germany, and I sure as heck would not be okay with it nowadays. I’m guessing the idea is to not let anyone feel ‘left out’, which is just part of the cuddle-education thing going on (wrap all kids in cotton, don’t let them experience anything even remotely negative, it might hurt their fragile feelings) that irks me.

    When I was in school, I didn’t even *know* all of my classmates. I had my share of friends, or people I liked and talked to at school, and those were invited to my birthday party, if I had one. Maybe my mom would bake extra cookies, and I’d bring some for the whole class a few days after my birthday.

    The other problem with this idea is, what if the birthday child doesn’t like all of their classmates? There are bound to be kids in class that you don’t like, or who don’t like you, and inviting them to your birthday party? A party that should be fun for you? Now gets cast over by the worry of those kids being there, and being forced into their presence more than you already have to in school.

    It’s a stupid idea, in my opinion. If I have a child, it will get to invite who it wants. And I will make sure to not put it into a school that has ‘every classmate must be invited to parties’ as some kind of silly rule or policy.

    #1 reason why this ‘Fiver/Tenner Party’ thing is good sounds like the story on here, where a woman set up GoFundMe to fund her able-bodied, perfectly healthy, teenaged daughter’s cheerleading hobby.

    • Catherine St Clair January 14, 2019, 10:11 am

      You are correct. A girl in my fifth grade class invited the whole class to her birthday party. I was the only one who came. Her mother had bought boxes of cupcakes for the party. One other girl rode her bike over later. Children do not hesitate to make it clear that they don’t like you. If you watch the media, children have arranged parties and no one came at all. In one case, police officers came when they learned no children were coming.

  • Catherine St Clair January 14, 2019, 10:07 am

    I can see where many parents would find this convenient, sensible, and a great time-saver. I was told that you can never presume you will receive a gift in the first place, but I would have no objection to those who follow the suggestion. Perhaps making it an option and wording it, “We are looking forward to celebrating with you. If you are thinking of bringing a small gift too, Junior would love to have an X, but we can’t afford such an expense right now. If anyone would like to donate towards the X as a group gift, please let us know so Junior can thank you. ” It’s still presuming a gift is forthcoming, but most people do bring gifts to a child’s party.

    • Devin January 15, 2019, 11:16 am

      In the circles I’ve seen the fiver party idea gain traction, it’s not that the parents can’t afford the gift, they usually lay out way more on the party than they’ll get back, it’s that they want their child to pick out one item to purchase with the gift money, rather than have a rec room full of toys that get played with once and tossed aside. Many of these families would really be on board with ‘no gifts’, but when you say that you still end up with a bunch ‘throw away’ toys. It’s at a point in some communities that during annual toy drives the charities specific it has to be new toys or at least a certain dollar amount because they get inundated with easily broken, used toys; more than they can clean, sort, and distribute.

  • Anonymous January 14, 2019, 11:40 am

    I don’t love the idea, because it deprives kids of the opportunity to think, “What would Sally like? I know; her baseball glove was looking pretty beat up at recess last week, I’ll get her a new one,” or “The last time I was at Joe’s house, we were playing Twister, and the dial popped off the spinner when he spun it too hard, so maybe he’d like a new Twister game.” It also skips over teaching kids how to graciously receive gifts that miss the mark. For example, maybe Joe accidentally got Sally a right-handed baseball glove when she’s left-handed, or maybe Sally chose the Twister game for Joe, which he would have loved…..if his grandmother hadn’t come over with the exact same game earlier that day. But, in practice, it’s mostly the parents who do the shopping and choosing, and they often don’t know their kids’ friends, and I’ve volunteered at a few birthday parties at the YMCA that ended with the adults in charge having to load a whole classroom’s worth of Monster High dolls, Mega Blox sets, and whatnot, into the car to take home. So, the trend I’d really like to see is, kids genuinely getting each other birthday gifts on their own steam–maybe buying them with allowance or chore money, or maybe making homemade birthday cards, friendship bracelets, et cetera. Of course, it’s probably not going to happen, because a lot of people live in suburbia, with not much accessible by foot, bike, or public transit, people are keeping a tighter hold on their kids, so going shopping independently might not be permitted until middle or high school, and a lot of people have less time too, with kids being shuttled to multiple extra-curricular activities throughout the course of the week. But still, I think there’s something to be said for D.I.Y. gifts. Probably the most meaningful gift I ever got, was when I was in university, and my best guy friend wrote me a song. I lost the audio file a few computers ago, but I’ll always remember him doing that for me.

    As for inviting the whole class or all of one gender, when I was a kid, that wasn’t mandatory; the rule was “don’t talk about the party in front of people who aren’t invited” instead. I think that makes more sense, because some people live in small houses, or apartment buildings without common rooms, and some venue parties are prohibitively expensive, and a “must invite everyone” edict misses the chance to teach kids about budgeting and compromise–on a child level, that could be something like, “you can either have a party at the park with your whole class, a sleepover with four friends, because that’s about how many will fit in the living room, OR a special day out with your BFF at Six Flags.” If the absolute rule is, all the class, all the time, and fivers or tenners instead of concrete gifts, then those poor kids are going to grow up not knowing how to choose a gift for their significant other, or plan a wedding that they can afford with all the people who are important to them. But, I think common sense can save the day there too–choosing smaller, more portable gifts for swimming/roller skating/whatever parties, where everything has to be taken home afterwards. As for teaching kids to save for what they really want, I think that’s just a simple question of “push/pull.” So, it’s okay to pull the information from the host (in this case, the birthday kid’s parents), but not push it on the guests. So, it’d be politer to say, “Sally likes baseball and art, and she’s saving up to go to dance camp this summer,” than “Sally doesn’t need more toys!!! Give her money towards dance camp!!!” Also, don’t get me started on people who write cutesy poems about “give us money instead of physical gifts.” Rude is still rude, even in rhyme.

    • Anonymous January 14, 2019, 12:03 pm

      About my wish to see kids getting each other birthday gifts on their own steam, that’d obviously require some parental assistance in the younger ages, decreasing as kids get older, but I think it’d be better if “friend parties” didn’t start so young in the first place–maybe kindergarten or grade one age would be a good time to start, rather than toddler/preschool/daycare age. By then, most kids have some idea of their friends’ preferences (for example, “Joe’s favourite colour is red, and he likes soccer and Spiderman”), and are at least beginning to be able to do things like make a homemade birthday card, or make a simple bracelet out of gimp (like maybe the zipper weave), or bake cookies with an adult. As kids get older, they could do something more involved, like making a scrapbook of photos, or filming a special birthday video on their smartphone. I just think that that’d be more meaningful than a pile of toys, or even a bunch of cash towards a larger item.

  • BagLady January 14, 2019, 10:23 pm

    I love birthdays! Just had one, in fact, and it was lovely. Celebration consisted of my SO taking me to dinner and giving me a card and an inexpensive gift.

    I think everyone, regardless of age, deserves a day when those close to him/her take a little time to acknowledge how much s/he means to them. The natal anniversary is as good a time as any. This acknowledgment doesn’t have to be gushy, or pricey, or even time-consuming. I cherished every Facebook message I got on my birthday, even those that were simply “Happy birthday, BagLady!”

    That said, when it comes to kids, I think the birthday-industrial complex has gotten out of hand. Everyone (and by “everyone” I mean parents) has become a bit paranoid. “Am I spending too little? Too much? Will I look like a cheapskate or a showoff in front of the other kids/parents? What if birthday child already has the item? How can we just have cake and ice cream and pin the tail on the donkey in the living room for Susie’s birthday when all her friends are doing Chuck E. Cheese or laser tag for their birthdays?”

    Traditional etiquette says it’s tacky to allude to gifts, even to say, “No gifts, please.” One is supposed to be pleasantly surprised and grateful for whatever people choose to give them. But traditional etiquette also says it’s tacky to NOT give a gift for those occasions where it’s customary (e.g., weddings and children’s birthday parties). It’s a Catch-22.

    Traditionally, guests would contact the honoree’s parents ahead of time for gift ideas, if they didn’t know already what gift would be welcome. “Susie loves anything to do with horses. She’s also been saving up for riding lessons, so if you’re stumped, she’d love a few dollars toward her riding lesson fund.” “Jim and Sally are saving for a house, so they’d appreciate a contribution toward that the most.”

    Communities are not as close-knit as they used to be. Guests may not have contact info for the parents. In the case of weddings, the parents may not even be the hosts. So we often see gift guidelines given in the invitations, instead of on request.

    While it might make Miss Manners cringe, personally I would rather have the guidance so that I avoid racking my brains/busting my budget to get the “perfect” gift for someone I don’t know well, and can give them something they will truly cherish. Even if it’s cash.

  • Agania January 15, 2019, 7:37 am

    A thought just occurred. While my daughters go to a small primary school and inviting the whole class would not be a big deal, there are some local primary schools that are just huge. Each year has four or five classes – per year. That could be upto 100 kids per year! An obligatory invite to every kid in the year? I think not!

    • Anonymous January 15, 2019, 6:24 pm

      I’ve never heard of the rule being “invite everyone in the birthday kid’s grade”; it’s always been just been the class. The trouble comes when the child then also wants to invite Aiden and Jayden from soccer, Hayden and Kayden from T-ball, and Brayden, the BFF from Mrs. X’s class last year, although they got separated into Mrs. Y and Mrs Z’s classes this year, and then of course siblings get invited automatically, unless they have plans of their own that day. So, that’s when you get into questions like, “I know we don’t have to invite everyone in Mrs. Z’s class just because we invited Brayden, but should we invite the whole soccer team, AND the entire T-Ball team? No, that’s too many…..but the other kids will be hurt…..but Birthday Kid is only really close with those four,” and so on. At that point, I think there needs to be some give and take. Schools, and organizers of children’s activities, should give out contact trees or directories, and people should have to opt OUT instead of opting IN, upon enrollment (so there’s no situation where it’s Christmas time before the directory is published), and, having that contact information readily available, people should circulate birthday party invitations outside of school/group activities, if there’s a chance that their kids will spill the beans to non-invitees, and/or that the non-invitees will be hurt and cause drama. Of course, my parents helped me and my brother figure out a lot of social situations by employing the “How would you like it if…..?” method, but kids make mistakes, and some parents don’t have a ton of time to teach critical thinking on top of working and running a household, so that doesn’t always work.

      • Natalia May 14, 2019, 5:51 pm

        It’s hard. Kids wanna invite their whole class, all the neighborhood kids, friends from church, friends from soccer, etc. Then some kids/families invite cousins and friend’s of siblings. Plus, you have parents who attend the party as well. Then when kids get into middle and high school, the grades get bigger…it’s easier then because kids aren’t in one class all day and they aren’t friends with everyone in their 8th grade class. Also, what do you do if your kids has more close friends outside of school? In my day all my neighborhood friends went to my school. None of my daughter’s neighborhood friends went to their school…

  • Anonymous January 15, 2019, 1:57 pm

    >>That said, when it comes to kids, I think the birthday-industrial complex has gotten out of hand. Everyone (and by “everyone” I mean parents) has become a bit paranoid. “Am I spending too little? Too much? Will I look like a cheapskate or a showoff in front of the other kids/parents? What if birthday child already has the item? How can we just have cake and ice cream and pin the tail on the donkey in the living room for Susie’s birthday when all her friends are doing Chuck E. Cheese or laser tag for their birthdays?”<<

    I think there's a lot of overthinking going on here. You're spending the exact right amount on a birthday party, if you're spending the amount that makes sense for your family, you can very easily do cake and ice cream and Pin The Tail On The Donkey in the living room if that's what Susie wants, and if that's what works best for you; not even for financial reasons–maybe Susie prefers it; maybe she hates crowds, isn't a fan of giant mice, or doesn't like pizza, and maybe she's utterly bored with the skating/bouncy house/Build-A-Bear party circuit by now. The party parents would probably prefer it too, because there's often an expectation for parents to stay at venue parties, and most adults hate Chuck E. Cheese. Also, since those questions seem to arise for ALL parents, there's something to be said for setting a precedent in the other direction–I'm pretty sure that some parents would think, "Well, since Susie's parents did her party at home, it wouldn't be out of place for us to do the same thing for Jimmy." Chances are, Jimmy probably remembers Susie's party more than any of the formulaic venue parties he attended, because those are all the same–kids arrive, activity, food and cake, presents, done. With home parties, there's more scope for the parents to tailor things to fit the birthday child and his or her friends' interests.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.