Giving-Back Birthday Alternative

{Give-Back Birthday Party Alternative} Request donations instead of gifts...“I buy presents for my friends and family on my birthday,” he told me. I stared at my co-worker without reply. His comment had caught me off-guard. He sat quietly for a moment and then explained that, for him, birthday’s were about celebrating the people you love most in the world. Fast forward eight years and two children and this concept still brings a smile to my face.

As parents, we need to teach and show our children what is important to us in life. My fellow Melissa & Doug Blog Ambassador, Valerie of Inner Child Fun, recently shared an amazing family adventure in the article Birthday Challenge: 35 Acts of Kindness. Using these two sources of inspiration our family came up with a new party theme, the Giving-Back Birthday Alternative.

It is time to think outside of the box. Birthdays offer an opportunity for families to look beyond cupcakes, balloons, and presents and find something more.

Below are five simple steps for a Giving-Back Birthday Party:

1. Make the party gift-free.
It is that simple and that challenging. Despite this request, some guests will insist on bringing a gift. Respect their social courtesy and appreciate their kindness by offering a donation alternative.

2. Get your child on board.
Worried your child is going to come unglued when they hear gift-free? Take a carefully planned approach with this conversation. Start by researching kid-friendly non-profits in your local community. Find two or three choices that you feel comfortable supporting. The Humane Society and any organization that helps local children in need are always good defaults. Have the two websites open and ready before broaching the conversation with your child.

Lead your child with questions:

  • Start by asking, “Are you excited your birthday is coming soon?”
  • Introduce the topic, “You’re going to get presents from me and Dad, Grandma, Nana [insert any additional names here].”
  • Let your child interject their excitement and eventually create a transition, “That’s a lot of presents. You sure are a lucky kid.”
  • Use this as a spring board to say, “With all those presents you’ll be receiving, I was thinking that we’ll have your friends bring donations instead of gifts. Where would you prefer your birthday donations go to [option A] or [option B]?
  • Chat about the two non-profits and show your child the websites to help get your little one excited. Share how the donations will help others. You being enthusiastic is the key to this conversation being successful.

3. Send invites and make it easy for party guests to donate.
Let parents know the party is gift-free, but donations on your child’s behalf are welcome. Make it easy by sharing the non-profit URL in the invite. If the organization has a requested “wish list” share that too!

4. Consider making it a theme.
Get creative and tie it all together. We had adorable dog cupcakes in honor of our guests who donated to the Humane Society.

{Give-Back Birthday Party Alternative} Consider Humane Society Donations as a gift alternative...

{Pool Party Tip} Best trick to getting kids out of the pool and dressed...5. Teach your child the joy of giving.
Teach your child the joy of giving by having them provide each guest at the party a gift. Use the money you would normally spend on fancy party-favor bags, candy, and trinkets on a simple-useful gift. We decided to give each of our guests a pair of Beeposh Lounge Pants. As mentioned in the post Raising a Little Fish, our girls love throwing on their Beeposh Pants after swimming lessons.

This gift was also the perfect way to get our party guests out of the pool and ready for their parents to pick them up! Don’t forget to get your child involved in the gift giving. The birthday girl picked out the Beeposh Lounge Pants styles and decorated the wrapping for each friend.

The adventure doesn’t stop after the guests go home. Call you non-profit and tell them about your child’s party. Many will offer a special tour when dropping off donation items if you ask ahead of time. It is a great way to let your child see first hand that their choice will make a difference.

Do you have any additional alternative birthday ideas to share?
Let’s chat below.

{Alternative Pool Party} Donations instead of gifts...

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  1. Marnie says

    I love this idea, Zina. Have you read the children’s book, Zen Shorts? It would be a great one for your girls as it brings up this exact concept. Check it out! ~ Marnie

  2. says

    I adore this idea, Zina. My oldest is about to turn 9 and he has a favorite charity, the rescue organization where we got our dog, and one that he has spent countless hours volunteering for. I’m going to suggest this idea to him. I bet he will love it. And I might just do this for my own birthday this year. :-)

  3. Almaden Acorn says

    Wonderful tips for a gift free party. My daughter has a friend who had a PJ party to donate pajamas to the children’s shelter. My daughter was so into it, she included a stuffed animal and book too.

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