Thursday, August 20, 2015

Gift Me a Break

birthday gifts for kids
We're coming up on another weekend full of children's birthday parties, and I'm feeling a teensy bit ragey.  Contrary to what you're thinking, my furor is not at all related to having to spend my Saturday and Sunday afternoons sweating it out in the blazing desert sun while simultaneously trying not to get whacked with a rogue pinata bat.  Sure, that whole scenario sounds far less appealing than say, sitting poolside with a frozen cocktail and a trashy novel, but this is my life now and I'm learning to accept that.  No, the object of my simmering, unspoken (until now) rage is this: when an invitation clearly states "please do not bring gifts" why do so many people still bring presents?!

I was pleasantly surprised at this new no gifts trend, especially as it spared me from having to run out for a last minute birthday present at 8:30am every Saturday.  However, after showing up empty handed to three of these no gifts affairs and finding myself the only person not bearing a present, I'm really starting to feel like an asshole.

I'm pleading with you, parents, to please stop bringing presents to parties that were supposed to be gift-free affairs.  We've all jumped on the no more party favors bandwagon - how about we get a few more passengers on the no more birthday gifts train?

I've got five good reasons why:

Our kids have too much stuff.  Do you know why The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up is such a huge hit?  Because everybody has too much crap.  If your kids are anything like mine, they're the ones with the most stuff.  I'm not saying that kids should have only one toy, three books, and a sad little stuffed animal, but my kids really do not need 654 more Matchbox cars, or another plastic tea set, or 10 more versions of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Most kids whose parents are throwing them birthday parties have more stuff than they know what to do with - and chances are they'll spend far longer playing with the wrapping paper than whatever it contained.

We have it already.  There's a very good chance that whatever you're planning to give the Birthday Kid is something he already owns.  Which means that he'll open it up, yell "I already have this!" and continue on his manic, sugar-fueled unwrapping session.  This also means that the duplicate item is going to get added to the big bin of re-gifts that his Mom has going in the linen closet, destined for a future party host who will also probably own the offending item.  Basically, the re-gifts will just keep getting re-gifted ad infinitum, until one day in 2053 when someone will be able to sell it at a flea market as a "mint condition, still in its original packaging" antique.

No, your son/daughter doesn't need a $100 t-shirt from a designer store.  I love a cute kid in an expensive piece of clothing as much as the next lady, but there are these things called dirt, paint, and glue, and children spend a lot of time playing in them.  Weirdly, expensive clothes stain just as easily as clothes from the resale shop, but the difference is that you don't feel bad for throwing away a $2 shirt that's been used as a painter's canvas.  Save your shekels and let Granny buy junior the expensive duds for one-time-use during the High Holidays.

The kid is not being deprived of joy.  If your child only equates joy with presents, then you need to spend less time reading my blog and more time seeking out a qualified child psychiatrist.  It's not like having a present-free birthday party means not giving your child birthday gifts at all; that's just cruel.  I'm sure that between parents and grandparents, children will receive plenty of bounty that they can play with once and then throw in the back of the closet never to be seen again.  Wouldn't you rather your child had fewer things she really enjoyed playing with all the time, rather than lots of toys she only played with once?  Plus, there's a better chance that those closest to the birthday kid have the best idea of what she might want, rather than some random clerk at the local toy store who's more interested in snapchatting with his lady friend than helping you select the perfect gift.

Save some money.  I suppose there are people who are not interested in saving money, but if there are, I have never met them.  Do you know how much money you could save by not having to purchase two (or more) birthday gifts every weekend?  You could buy a house in Detroit for that kind of cash!  If you're spending your hard earned money on gifts for a kid that doesn't even want them, then you may as well just stand over the toilet flushing crisp hundred dollar bills.

Donate instead.  I love it when instead of bringing a gift, I'm asked to make a donation to a worthwhile charity.  We all have so much, and it's a great opportunity for kids to learn how rewarding it is to give to those in need.  Allyson is a champion when it comes to this - for Caleb's party a few weeks ago she asked everyone to bring books to donate in lieu of gifts.  Noah had a great time choosing which of his books he wanted to give to less fortunate kids, and he took such pride in placing his books in the donation basket.

So, please, stop with the gifts already.

Unless you're invited to a party for me, in which case I'll be happy to put together an Amazon wish list. 

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