A parent’s email describing how to properly give gifts to a couple’s 1 year-old for his birthday is circling Facebook. The letter instructs birthday party attendees on acceptable gifts, including the number per family allowed, as well as selecting group gifts and assigning them. Party attendees are also notified that the child has enough books and gift receipts are highly recommended. I have to admit that I was taken back by the tone of the letter and the glaring ingratitude displayed. My inner Mommy Wars judge came to the forefront, until I read some of the comments. While nearly everyone took issue with the tone, many understood the good intentions behind this letter.
Many of us are trying to tackle commercialism, overabundance, and duplicate gifts as parents. We are eager to give our kids experiences over things. When special occasions come along, well-meaning gift giving can sometimes feel like sabotage to our best efforts. We often grin and bear it, but wonder if there is another way to express our gratitude, while politely directing family and friends toward meaningful gift ideas.
I’ve come up with 3 Ways to share Birthday Gift Lists that you can customize to help convey your gratitude for friends and family, while gently suggesting appropriate gifts. These include the Oh! The Places You’ll Go Party, The Gift Ideas Note, and The Gratitude Party. Each party can be customized for your child’s age and interests.
3 Ways to Share Birthday Gift Lists (Without Sounding Like a Jerk)
1. Oh! The Places You’ll Go Party
Your kids have a toy room overflowing with toys and you’re worried about them receiving more unneeded things for their birthday. You have decided to prioritize experiences over things, but wonder how to convey this to family and friends. Why not invite them to an Oh! The Places You’ll Go Party and share your vision for a year of fun experiences? You could create an easy Balloon Cupcake Display and play adventure-themed games.
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
Molly is turning five and our family is celebrating by embarking on a year of adventure!
Oh, The Places We’ll Go!
Ice Skating in the winter;
Swimming in the summer;
Bowling all year-round.
We’ll see a minor-league ball game in spring;
Cheer for volleyball in the fall;
Play a round of mini-golf when we’re through.
The Children’s Museum will spark our imaginations;
Art classes will bring out our creative sides;
We’ll find inspiration at the zoo.
Roller coasters will delight us at the fair;
Colorful characters on the carousel;
We’ll top it all off with a cherry at our favorite ice cream shoppe.
You’re welcome to join us
and come for a ride.
We love your company
inside and outside!
If you’d like to bring a gift
– and it’s okay if you don’t –
Maybe you could help us
With the places we’ll go?
2. Gift Ideas Note
Are you friends and family actively asking for gift ideas? Why not share your child’s interests and even a modest Amazon wish list, if it seems appropriate? This note can be customized with your child’s interests and slipped into invitations for any theme, where appropriate.
Jamie is having a birthday and he can’t wait to celebrate with you!
Sometimes you come to a party and want to bring a gift, too,
but it’s hard to know just what to do.
Jamie loves reading, coloring, and playing with sand.
He’s thrilled to try anything he can build with his hands.
If more specifics are needed,
you can find some ideas here (amazon wish list link).
Jamie will be happy,
Whatever you choose;
A card, a hug, or a toy.
Because the greatest gift for his birthday is having a friend like you!
3. Gratitude Party
My children’s friends have several parties over the past few years with an invitation to bring a donation for a local charity – usually a book or a toy – in lieu of a gift. This is an easy addition to any birthday party theme and a lovely idea. You can add something simple, like “If you would like to bring a gift to the party, Gracie would love for you to bring a donation to her favorite charity.” You could also go with a Gratitude Party theme. Wouldn’t it be fun to decorate a wall with the notes and pictures from party guests? You could incorporate this idea with different party games and themes.
Gracie is looking back on year 5 with gratitude – so much to be thankful for!
- Learning to ride with no training wheels.
- Dad’s kisses for skinned knees.
- A new baby sister.
- Discovering a favorite book.
- Fresh peaches in the summer, sweet juice running down her chin.
- Grandma’s visits.
- Learning to draw inside the lines.
- Swim lessons.
- Play dates.
- Splashing in mud puddles.
- Laughing with friends.
You’re invited to help us as we look back on 5 with thanks and celebrate year 6 to come! Please write or draw a picture of something you’re grateful for on the enclosed note card and bring it to hang on our gratitude wall. If you can’t join us, we’d love it if you would mail us your postcard to share.
We will also be collecting donations for Gracie’s favorite charity and invite you to bring a donation to help us spread joy!
Have you shared birthday gift lists with friends or family? How did you do it? How was it received?