Why We Don’t Do Presents on Birthdays


Well the title of this is a little misleading I mean on MY birthday we do presents. I like them on Christmas and Mother’s Day as well. I would even take one on Arbor Day if you insisted.

And we do give our kids presents. On Christmas and birthdays and as an occasional reward for not throwing a fit while running errands.

What we have stopped doing is asking for presents at our kid’s birthday parties.

First of all I am not a big believer in big parties every year. Even if you go minimal, they are expensive, and while I love to celebrate my child on their special day, I just don’t want to set the expectation of a Pinterest worthy blow out year after year.

I would love to say we have a method to how often each kid gets a big friend party but there isn’t really a rhyme or reason. Typically we try to do something with family either way. But friend parties are a little bit hit or miss. The last few years we’ve found inexpensive party packages to bid on at silent auctions so the kids have had more parties than is typical.

This year when Lily turned 10 and Hannah turned 8 they each got pretty big parties. And as I thought back to previous parties and all the presents the accumulated to add to their already overflowing toy piles, I had an idea. No more presents.

To be clear, they get presents from us. And goodness knows, there is no way to stop the grandparents, although we have been encouraging “experience” presents instead of “stuff”. My kids rarely don’t get the things on the top of their wish lists. But from their friends, we request no presents.

I know to some it may seem unfair and harsh, but I am desperately trying to teach my kids that more stuff won’t make them happy. Goodness knows it is a hard enough lesson for a grown woman to figure out. I would love for them to figure it out earlier than I have.

So instead of receiving, we started giving (and I’m not talking about those awful gift bags full of trinkety junk). We ask people instead of gifts to bring a donation. Not money because that is boring and as a mom I know how much kids love picking out gifts for their friends. Instead of gifts, they get to pick out something that will be donated to charity.

My kids get to pick their charities. I want to make it as meaningful to them as possible. This year, Lily picked a local food program that feed kids and her friends brought piles and piles of granola bars and juice boxes. Hannah picked the foster care agency our sweet baby came from and her friends brought piles of baby blankets and diapers. And then we make it a little date when we drop off their donations followed by a treat.

And you know what? My kids don’t seem to mind at all.


Are my kid’s deprived?


  1. This is such a wonderful idea! I also don’t believe in huge birthday parties every year. Growing up we also didn’t get bakery cakes for each birthday. Most years we got a cake made from a box. We had bigger parties for certain birthdays and even those weren’t over the top. One of my favorite birthdays was just a simple sleepover with pizza, movies, and cake.
    Ashley Ponder Richards recently posted…My Favorite Pins (Part 2)My Profile

  2. Are all the moms not offering a collective sigh of RELIEF?? My word, Jill, this is a WONDERFUL idea!

    There’s such an entitlement culture in our country, and maybe birthday parties just feed that. And the thing is, when you have multiple kids, it’s not just about their own parties, but ALL THE PARTIES they’ll get invited to over their childhood! It’s so expensive, and it seems to be they come in batches at a time.

    Are your kids deprived? Only if deprived means they have incredible parents….
    Robin Dance recently posted…Laughing Lines, Part IIMy Profile

  3. Oh, I love this. I HATE all the toys from birthday-party aftermath. The year we did OCC Shoebox-packing for L’s birthday was definitely by far my favorite “party” of hers. I love as she’s growing older that she understands, too, that having a ton of toys means more for her to pick up and that there are a lot of other kids with nothing.
    Jessie Weaver recently posted…Saturday Linky LoveMy Profile

  4. We don’t do gifts, either. And parties don’t happen every year. Sorry, but … well, that’s just too much in my book.
    Heather @To Sow a Seed recently posted…Math manipulatives every preschooler needsMy Profile

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge