DS is asking everyone not to buy him christmas gifts and to give money to charity.

(71 Posts)
Illgetmycoat Sun 11-Nov-12 23:09:16

What would you do? He is 11 and has declared for the past 12 months that he is vegetarian and (just recently) buddhist. I am a meat eating atheist and a deep believer in the magic of Christmas. He is bonkers, but I love him.

I think he means it. He is suggesting WWF and Water Aid.

Or would you say he is too young and ignore what he says, because he will be gutted on Christmas day? Or do we go for it?

BeaWheesht Sun 11-Nov-12 23:10:41

I'd go for it and get him a nice stocking.

YouOldSlag Sun 11-Nov-12 23:11:12

Give him some money. he can decided whether he wants to buy an Oxfam goat or buy something for himself. Either way, you're giving him choice.

On Christmas morning just buy him a few token gifts to open.

What a nice young man!

VBisme Sun 11-Nov-12 23:11:31

Nope, let him go ahead, if he doesn't really mean it he'll never do it again.

Illgetmycoat Sun 11-Nov-12 23:13:15

LOL VBisme!

Frontpaw Sun 11-Nov-12 23:14:13

A future leader in the making! I'd give him money to donate of he wishes and some nice prezzies - maybe something ethical? Can't think of anything atm...

Cortana Sun 11-Nov-12 23:16:24

What a wonderful young man.

I'd do as he asks and have a few token gifts for him. I loved this book. Changed my outlook on life.

scarlettsmummy2 Sun 11-Nov-12 23:16:36

Give him the money and let him choose. Mildly amused at an atheist loving the magic of christmas. grin

izzywizzyisbizzy Sun 11-Nov-12 23:17:18

He wont be gutted on Christmas day, he will be feeling all righteous, you will be gutted all year when you are shelling out for the things he would normally have had for Christmas.

ChristmasCountdown Sun 11-Nov-12 23:17:39

I know a very socially conscious 12 year old that I can imagine doing something like this. Ditto the go for it but get him a really good stocking. And maybe a copy of the Sam Stern Vegetarian cook book. Or spend less than you normally would and get him a combination of gifts/charitable stuff. Thinking of the 12 year old I know, he'd be very put out if people didn't take his views seriously.

It sounds like he means it, and good for him! I'd still get him a few small presents though, and make sure there's plenty of nice non-present things on the day (which I'm sure you do anyway).

If he'd like, you can quickly set up a fundraiser on this site so everyone can see the money totting up smile

Illgetmycoat Sun 11-Nov-12 23:18:07

I was thinking it would be good if there was a charity that could let him see the direct result of what he had done, like a tree being planted, or a foot of land protected, or equipment his money had bought. Is there anything like that for children who donate?

SirBoobAlot Sun 11-Nov-12 23:19:37

Do it! And get him a nice stocking smile

ThisIsMummyPig Sun 11-Nov-12 23:22:17

I would definately get the ethical stuff. He is plenty old enough to know his mind, and should be respected for his views.

I would spend less though, just in case by his birthday he has changed his mind and you can get him something extra to make up?

Dominodonkey Sun 11-Nov-12 23:22:18

OP - there are lots of charities that do things like you mention. You get to name a goat too for OXFAM. Or how about an animal adoption one where he gets a little bear or tiger to show he has helped to look after one in the wild?

Your son sounds lovely btw.

Procrasstinator Sun 11-Nov-12 23:23:44

that is so lovely. you must be so proud

i would get him something from the New Internationalist Christmas catalogue; maybe a book? they have good bite size guides to world issues...and lots of other nice stuff

tell him its not a xmas present, you donated that money to Water Aid. This is just a present for being so brilliant

Procrasstinator Sun 11-Nov-12 23:25:54

haha...flippin' 'eck, watch him though...he'll have you all donating your presents next year, sat round in sack clothes, chanting over your alfalfa salad xmas dinner...

BandersnatchCummerbund Sun 11-Nov-12 23:27:29

I would do it, and donate to his chosen charities, but get him some Fair Trade/charity shop stuff too. That way the charities still benefit, and he can still have some books/toys/games/chocolate etc. to unwrap.

Secondsop Sun 11-Nov-12 23:27:42

He sounds lovely. Why not donate as he wishes, plus some little token things to open on the day (perhaps bought to raise funds for one of his chosen charities), and perhaps also see if there's something experience-based / participatory that you could get him that you could enjoy together that would further his interests, as he's obviously socially engaged and sounds like he'd value the experience more than a physical present? Then he really won't feel left out on Christmas Day as he'll also have something to look forward to. There might be something environment-based, for example?

One of his Christmas Day presents to open on the day could also perhaps be a book about one of the charities or ideas he's expressed an interest in, or a vegetarian cookbook.

Even if it is a bit of a phase, I certainly knew what was what at age 11 and I think it would be so, so valuable to him to know that you'd listened, taken him seriously, and engaged with what he'd talked about - I'm sure that would be an absolutely wonderful thing for your longer-term relationship with your son.

ChristmasCountdown Sun 11-Nov-12 23:30:08

YY for ethical stuff. WWF have membership options and adopt an animal - you could do one of those in his name. It's not one of the charities he's mentioned, but Amnesty have a wide range of stuff for sale too.

Illgetmycoat Sun 11-Nov-12 23:34:12

LOL again Procrasstinator! We have 14 coming for xmas this year (only half of whom have full bladder control). We are going to have to rustle up some kind of entertainment for the rest of them!

Illgetmycoat Sun 11-Nov-12 23:36:03

I am going to put all the charity suggestions to him. Thank you!

I'd do as he asks but maybe buy him a few gifts from charity shops that way he still gets presents whilst knowing the money has gone to charity.

Mousefunk Mon 12-Nov-12 00:01:12

Interesting that because he has different beliefs to you and cares for the welfare of animals he is 'bonkers' hmm
Give him the money and let him do what he wishes. He sounds wonderful, you should be very proud.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Mon 12-Nov-12 00:07:06

I agree with everyone else. At 11 he does know his own mind.

And he sounds very thoughtful. You've obviously done a good job

StuntGirl Mon 12-Nov-12 00:08:18

Why wouldn't you do what he asks hmm He sounds wonderful.

NymphadoraTonks Mon 12-Nov-12 02:06:53

Another idea, if your son is up to, it is Kiva.com

You can open an "account" and deposit money, then lend that money to people in need to help them out.

For example I recently loaned $25 to a woman in Kenya who needed money to buy Onion and Spice seeds. She bought the seeds, grew them and sold them at market and a month or 2 later we got the $25 back in our account, to either lend again or withdraw.

That way your son can help lots of different people and chose his exact good cause and if he ever needs the money, he can withdraw it back once they have repaid their "loan"

MollyMurphy Mon 12-Nov-12 02:47:10

I did this one Christmas when I was young too.....admittedly it was a ploy to be so giving that I'd get even more gifts.

SoI'd get him gifts as per usual and maybe have him pick out a charity that he'd like to give a contribution too....perhaps giving away some old toys etc. It would be a shame if he regretted his generosity on Christmas morning and he has so few Christmases left before he's a teenager.

sashh Mon 12-Nov-12 03:36:34

Another vote for Kiva here, I have a 'revolving' $25 that has help a ladies dairy cooperative in Pakistan, supported a marketstall holder in Peru, aided a business in Egypt and is currently paying university fees for a young man in Ghana. The last one will obviously not be paying money back soon so I think I'll add another $25.

It's really a nice way to help people as you get to chose who to help, male, femal, individual or group, by geographical location and you get updates.

I also second the getting him some fair trade / charity items.

cozietoesie Mon 12-Nov-12 06:43:58

What a lovely DS. I'd also agree with setting up an account with a microfinancing organisation. You put in the money. Only you can get it out because it's essentially your account, but your DS can choose his financing and see how the recipient is doing with regular emails/visiting the site.

I don't know kiva (will be looking later today) but I already microfinance through lendwithcare. I happen to have talked with their people and know that they're a lean and mean organisation with regard to admin costs.


exoticfruits Mon 12-Nov-12 06:49:20

He sounds lovely- I would definitely go with it. You can still have a few novelty surprise bits.

MadameCreeper Mon 12-Nov-12 07:22:31

You could sponsor an animal for him, they're quite nice because you get the updates and learn further about the charity. I've heard arguments against the Sponsored Child ones, so you may want to read up about them.

MrsCantSayAnything Mon 12-Nov-12 07:30:07

Bless him! What a special kid...he sounds like a proper free thinker.

I also, would give him the money and let him do the donating. As well as a stocking. If he complains about you spending on a stocking you can say it was your pleasure.

HollyMadison Mon 12-Nov-12 07:37:30

Respect his wishes and get the charity gifts. Give him his bits and pieces in his stocking. Congratulations on raising a lovely boy x

Snazzyfeelingfestive Mon 12-Nov-12 07:45:23

He could pick from something like the Good Gifts catalogue too where they have lots of exciting sounding things- I am getting a friend a disease-detecting rat for a community this year! Plus they have lots of little gifts for a fiver so other family members could easily get him stuff from that. He could send Christmas cards for Amnesty too - maybe that's something you could do together that would feel Christmassy? Be very proud, he sounds great.

EugenesAxe Mon 12-Nov-12 07:50:17

No I'd treat his wishes with respect. If he gets upset about it it'll teach him not to be something he isn't, and to give clear messages.

I would get him a stocking if he has siblings who will be getting one, just so he can join in that fun cameraderie you get when opening a stocking in the early hours.

Illgetmycoat Mon 12-Nov-12 07:58:05

Thank you everyone. SO many ideas.

Mousefunk I only mean that he is bonkers in that he does things like apologise to sheep and tells them not to worry, because he is a vegetarian.I meant bonkers bonkers, not bonkers in his beliefs! grin

cozietoesie Mon 12-Nov-12 08:00:35

One of the good things about microfinance lending, as sashh mentioned, is that you can 'revolve' your lending amount. When one loan is paid off, hopefully, you can go on to loan to someone else. So if you put money into a microfinance lending account (not a straight gift) it can go on in theory for years with your DS involved on a regular basis.

Also - if any of the relatives cut up rough about giving him money and it being used in that way - you can always take it back out once the loan is repaid. So in theory, the money is not 'gone' and if DS were, say, to decide that he wanted it back to do something else, you could take the credit in your account back again.

Not saying you should do that by the way (I've written off from my accounts the money I have out on loan) but it is a back thought if anyone has issues with the concept.


sashh Mon 12-Nov-12 08:02:25


I now have an urge to send your son a filled shoe box, for him to get Xmas day.

And I don't even celebrate Christmas.

Lesbeadiva Mon 12-Nov-12 08:02:30

He sounds brilliant!

jendot Mon 12-Nov-12 08:23:33

Thanks for the kiva link. I have just sent $25 to a small business in Sierra Leone.
What a brilliant idea.

PinkFairyDust Mon 12-Nov-12 08:32:32

You can also get bags made out of cement sacks and the money goes back into thr charity....have googled but can't find the link would that be an idea perhaps?

fuzzpig Mon 12-Nov-12 08:44:28

He sounds lovely smile

I would get him a stocking too, making sure they are all sourced ethically.

TeddyBare Mon 12-Nov-12 08:48:35

He sounds lovely. Please don't let him hear that you think he's bonkers. I'd donate almost all of his Christmas gift but still buy one token gift like a bonsai tree or something or a nice (ethically sourced) stocking.

diffo Mon 12-Nov-12 10:31:16

What I would do is buy him some gifts anyway, keep the receipts. Christmas morning present him with the money. If he seems gutted throughout the day, ask him if he regrets his decision. If so, bring out the gifts. If not, take the gifts back to the shops for refunds.

2rebecca Mon 12-Nov-12 10:38:06

I'd do something like an Action Aid sponsorship
You get stuff twice a year from a child you sponsor to make it seem personalised although the money goes to their whole community not just them.
Like others I suspect you will end up buying him some stuff during the year that he would have got for xmas so if money is tight I'd keep some in reserve.
I'd tell relatives what he has asked for and leave it up to them.

2rebecca Mon 12-Nov-12 10:39:07

forgot to tick the box. Why can't mumsnet automatically convert links?

honeytea Mon 12-Nov-12 10:39:26

He sounds like a really lovely you g man! Id defiantly donate on his behalf, maybe you could also get him some vegetarian cook books so he has something to open on the day.

The planet earth series is amazing, my brother bought it for me last year, it covers some of the environmental issues maybe her enjoy a box set of that smile

Jen547 Mon 12-Nov-12 10:44:31

Some animal charities do Xmas gift packages where u adopt an endangered animal on behalf of someone. They get a cuddly toy and info on their animal and updates as well. This may be a nice compromise as he will be doing something for charity but will have a gift to open and get excited about as well.

Buy him a goat / water purification / school place in Africa from Oxfam.

Unicef also do something similar - we bought my sil measels vaccinations in Africa one year because we'd just had a baby and she'd just been on holiday there. There was nothing material she wanted, so we gave the donation on her behalf. Doing something like this, at least your DS knows what his money was spent on.

You could also buy him some fairtrade bits for his stocking, as the money will be going to support the community who made them.

SooticaTheWitchesCat Mon 12-Nov-12 10:53:10

He sounds a very thoughtful and caring young man. I would say if that is what he wants then as Jen547 suggests get him a subscription to the WWF, you adopt an animal and they send out a soft toy with an infromation pack and regular newsletters throughout the year plus emails to tell you how your animal is doing. I have done that for my girls ands they love it.

You could probably do that for some other charities too. That way he will have some packages to open on Christmas morning but they will mean something more to him.

MamaBear17 Mon 12-Nov-12 11:08:15

One of the parents of a pupil I teach told me that at home her children have three money boxes, one for saving, one for spending and one for good causes. She gives them a small amount of pocket money each week and asks them them to divide it between the three. She encourages them to spread the money in order to teach them about balance. If I were you I would give him an amount to give to charity, but also get him a present. He is clearly a lovely young man who cares about the world around him. However, he still deserves to have his own gift xx

FantasticDay Mon 12-Nov-12 11:16:58

What a lovely kid! Wateraid is a great charity - we chose it for our Church Sunday School's charity last year and the kids loved raising money and also all the yukky 'poo' videos etc on the website talking about the importance of sanitation.

You could also suggest to him for his 'big present' sponsoring a child through Action Aid or Plan - then he would have the pleasure of writing to and getting letters from a child in Africa or Asia. You could ask grandparents etc. to get him gifts from Oxfam unwrapped, so he could enjoy opening and seeing that he had bought e.g. a goat, a term's school fees, and see the difference he is making.

I would get him some nice Fairtrade chocs, clothes (try Shared Earth or Oxfam) etc for being such a hero.

MmeGuillotine Mon 12-Nov-12 11:42:18

He sounds wonderful. I hope my own boys grow up to be like this - you've done an excellent job. As a vegetarian wannabe Buddhist who apologises to insects and animals all the time I'm a bit biased though. smile

I'd make the donations as requested but also buy some extra ethically sourced things too like fairtrade chocolate, vegetarian cookery books and treats etc. smile

Frontpaw Mon 12-Nov-12 11:54:16

I do know a child who did this - he set up a page on 'just giving' site (not sure of thats the right name).

Jenny70 Mon 12-Nov-12 13:12:39

Definitely let him do it, my friend's boy at 8 decided all he wanted was money for his birthday so he could donate it to the kids hospital (he'd visisted someone, but not been closely affected by any children's illnesses etc).

He was beside himself with excitement donating all this money to the charity, never asked to keep a penny for himself.

Secondsop Mon 12-Nov-12 21:11:35

Something else you could do when you give him his stocking/presents on the day is to say something like "I'm so proud of how you think of others not just yourself, and how much you care about the world around you. I know you said no presents for you but I wanted to get you these as well as [insert whatever ethical/charity option you end up going for] because you deserve something for how much you care about others". This would reinforce your support for his beliefs and would make it clear that you're definitely not seeking to go against his wishes by buying him a few presents for him.

ventilatormum Mon 12-Nov-12 21:37:01

I had this last year with one of my DDs then 13.
i said it was not really done to specify to people what they should give her for Christmas, although she could request charity donations.
Quite a few gave her cash to do with what she wanted, and some just gave her presents.
As parents we did the normal stocking plus I think just one present under the tree.
Also instead of presents to teachers etc we bought a prosthetic leg for a charity!
She seemed happy with the end result, and I say good on yr son.

flow4 Mon 12-Nov-12 22:04:31

Obviously you know your DS better than we do, OP... A few times over the years, I have asked people not to buy me presents, and I have been rather frustrated that few seem able to follow my wishes... If you think your DS will feel the same, I would do as he asks.

But I think for some people there is a great pleasure in giving, and it may be worth discussing that with him. If you give him cash to donate to a charity/charities of his choice, and he gets a buzz out of doing that, then he should also be able to understand why some people want to give him gifts smile

Thanks v much for the kiva info, Nymphadora smile

ivanapoo Mon 12-Nov-12 22:25:55

Your son sounds BRILLIANT.

I really think you should send this thread to Water Aid and Wwf (maybe via twitter? They're both on there) and see what they suggest in terms of the best gift packages for him. They might come up with something for you we wouldn't think of.

ThisIsMummyPig Mon 12-Nov-12 22:48:01

This has been bothering me. Why do people thingk that a few bits under a tree are more important than knowing that your parents trust you and value your opinions?

I really would do as he asks. I have been given over the years chickens, goats, seeds, mango trees. I appreciate them a lot more than gloves again.

Snazzyfeelingfestive Mon 12-Nov-12 23:18:17

This is where things like the Good Gifts catalogue come in, because other people then get the pleasure of 'giving' something tangible. Here is the link to set up a wish list with them - your son could do this and then people could buy him food for abandoned animals, pills to prevent river blindness, comics for kids in hospital, all sorts! I love it.

flow4 Mon 12-Nov-12 23:54:26

Oo, thank you for the Good Gifts link too Snazzy smile

TheMummyBean Fri 16-Nov-12 23:02:42

Go for it!! I think that's lovely!

The African Children's Choir do a 'Give up a Gift for Africa' campaign here...


Illgetmycoat Sun 18-Nov-12 23:29:27

Just to update. DS is asking all the family to donate to the Good Gift Guide in the environmentalist section. He will get crackers with a gift slip inside to let him know how he has helped. Thank you to everybody who suggested ideas.

Just between us mums, I am sure that Father Christmas will give him a stocking too.

RichardSimmonsTankTop Mon 19-Nov-12 00:02:26

How about a Kiva loan? Kiva facilitates loans to people from developing countries all around the world - check out their site. You eventually (should) get the money back. It's tangible, too - you can see when they've raised enough money to buy goats, open their shop etc.

I hope my DCs grow up to be half as altruistic.

RichardSimmonsTankTop Mon 19-Nov-12 00:02:46

Oh sorry, just saw your update. Great idea!

Charltonangel Mon 17-Dec-12 12:05:42

Give More have published a Christmas Give Guide with loads of great ideas as to how you can get the best of both worlds on this - you could get some presents from a charity shop supporting one of his chosen charities... What a lovely story. Made a little tear come to my eye smile

LaCiccolina Mon 17-Dec-12 12:10:08

Do it but have something to hand incase his jaw wobbles.. X

ConfusedPixieThinksSheIsAnElf Mon 17-Dec-12 14:46:36

I know this is a month old and has been bumped, but your son sounds lovely OP!

& YY to Kiva. I've had money in it in the past and plan to put money back into it in the new year and will continue to put a (very) small amount in on a monthly basis to keep revolving.

peaceandlovebunny Mon 17-Dec-12 15:38:57

go with it. you've brought up a nice, deep-thinking kind of boy.

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