Hello, my sweet sweet friends! Many of you know, our little man’s first birthday was last month. I happy to report that his party was a complete success. If I’m being honest, planning this party was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I was so unbelievably stressed about it, looking back now I can’t understand why. I was so worried about throwing the perfect party, I almost forgot to enjoy it. In the end, everything turned out better than I could have ever hoped for. Walter was surrounded by friends and family who love him, that sounds like the perfect party to me.
Now I’m sure some of you are reading the title like WTF does stressing out about a party have to do with gifts? Well you know me, I like to preach about being gentle with yourself ;). Plus, our decision to not allow gifts at our son’s birthday party caused a great deal of anxiety for me. In the few weeks before My son’s party we received so much negative feedback about our decision to not allow gifts. At some points, I was worried that we were somehow going to ruin our sons first birthday. During these moments of doubt, Tyler, my wonderful partner reminded me why we were making this decision. Hopefully sharing those reason will help bring a better understanding to all the people who thought we were crazy. I’m also hoping this will inspire other people to do the same.
- Being content with what you have
Like most kids, our son already has an unbelievable number of toys. Honestly, at some points he had so many he couldn’t possibly play with them all. This was a huge problem for our family. Don’t get me wrong, we want our son to have an amazing childhood. However, having 4 million toys isn’t going to make him happy. In fact, many studies have shown that too many toys can cause anxiety in kids. Too many toys also leads kids to become bored with what they have, leading to a constant cycle of wanting something new to entertain themselves. We really want to teach our son to be content with the thing he already has. To accomplish this, we only buy him things that he really needs, or toys we know he’ll enjoy. If he noticed he’s no longer interested in a toy we take it away for a few weeks. If he’s still showing no interest when we reintroduce the toy it gets donated. So having everyone who attended his party bring a gift we would have been right back where we started.
- No one is required to buy you a gift because it’s your birthday
I know some of you may not agree with me, but just hear me out for a second. Birthday gifts are a huge part of our culture. We’re so used to bringing something to a party that we often feel uncomfortable coming emptyhanded. We want our son to know from a very young age that No one is required buy him gifts. People buy gifts to show their love for someone, but that’s not the only way you can show someone love. We don’t want gift giving to become so “normal” for him that it loses it’s true meaning. We don’t want party to automatically equal gifts in his mind.
- People shouldn’t feel uncomfortable if they can’t afford a gift
This is so important to me because I’ve felt this way numerous times. I know how embarrassing it can be to turn down a party invitation because you can’t afford a gift or worse spending money you don’t have because you feel obligated to bring something. I never want to make someone feel that way. To keep everyone on the same playing field we told everyone to come without a gift. This way no one was singled out.
- Gift shaming
This one ties into number 3 but I felt like it was important enough to mention on its own. I sure it’s normal for people to open their gifts in front of party goers. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this by itself but often this allows for gift shaming. This is something I find unacceptable, but it’s something I’ve seen so many times. Someone will open a gift only to have a party goer make fun of it. Either because it’s something the birthday boy/girl doesn’t want, or because it’s not as good of a gift as someone else’s. No one should ever feel embarrassed about the gift they bring to a party. Like I said before no one is obligated to buy someone a gift, and you never know when someone has spent their last twenty dollars on something only to be made fun of because their gift isn’t grand enough.
- Giving gifts can be wasteful
It’s no secret that I’m passionate about the environment, and only consuming what you absolutely need. Often, gift giving means wrapping paper or gift bags, tissue paper, or cards. These things are great, but they’re all single use items. They’re designed to be used once and then they head straight for landfill. On top of that people always seems to gift babies a ton of plastic toys. Plastic is toxic, and it’s something we really try to limit in our son’s life. If we were to have everyone bring him gifts, we’d end up with a lot of toys we’d never allow our son to play with. Sure, we wouldn’t just throw them away, we’d donate them but that means someone would spend their money of Walter for nothing.
For those of you would still think we’re crazy, or we’re mean parents that understandable. Our view on gifts is out there. However, I would like to stress everyone giving it a shot just once. The outcome may surprise you. Our friends and family had a blast at Walter’s first birthday party. Most importantly Walter was surrounded by people who loved him. And let’s be honest guys, he’s one it’s not like he’ll remember it anyway 😊
I’d love to hear your opinion on gift giving at kid’s birthday parties. Leave me a comment letting me know what you think.
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