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To have a chairty collection instead of presents at my child's birthday parties?

(437 Posts)
unlucky83 Sun 23-Feb-14 17:48:35

My DCs don't get a birthday present - they get a party instead. They have a great party ...creates memories... and I don't have to buy them something just because it is their birthday (they are both just after Christmas anyway)... I think a great experience...only one problem - presents!
When DD1 had her first big party I hadn't even thought about it - then after I watched her open 20+ presents and honestly it made me feel a bit sick - it was just too much and although the presents were lovely they weren't really needed...we have too much 'stuff' anyway (clutter everywhere) and whatever someone buys if it ends up in a charity shop it is never going to make what was paid for it...
I then decided that if she was going to have a big (whole class) party that she wasn't going to have presents as well but in case people felt they should contribute something we would have a charity collection ...
And we stuck to that until she started having just a few friends - except when we had a shared party (would be awkward for other child)...and it worked well
Now DD2 had a couple of shared parties when little but for the last three years has had big parties on her own (she now has girl only parties - unfortunately most of her class are girls so still not small!).
She has agreed to the arrangement, she wants the party instead of a present and gets to chose the charity to support - I give her options (small, localish ones). In fact last year she had great fun because we collected for the children's ward at the local hospital and they didn't want cash (too much hassle accessing it apparently) - so she got to go mad in Mothercare choosing baby toys!
We put a tin out and say on the invites 'no presents please, there will be a charity collection' - if people feel they want to contribute fine, if not no problems and even if they put money in the card I have no idea who contributes or doesn't or how much they put in...
Another parent always ignores the no present rule and from a couple of things she has said she obviously thinks it is wrong....
(other parents do understand -in fact some have 'copied' my idea)
So am I being unreasonable?
Have I missed something that might offend someone?

expatinscotland Sun 23-Feb-14 17:49:38


CoffeeTea103 Sun 23-Feb-14 17:53:48

Ok so she thinks you're wrong, how does it affect your life. You don't live to please other people. If you do get gifts just donate them, no need to get so worked up about it.

MrsMook Sun 23-Feb-14 17:56:21

A friend recently had a collection of toiletries for a local homeless shelter. I thought is was great, and simple to take a few bottles from our stock at home rather than trying to guess a young child's interests, buy something and wrap it.


PiperRose Sun 23-Feb-14 17:57:22

Ok I'll bite.

I really don't know if you are being unreasonable or not. I totally admire the ethical stance you're taking in theory, yet I wonder what your DC's are thinking when their friends talk about what they got for their birthdays.

I can sort of understand the not wanting presents from friends but don't get the not getting any from you. Do the rest of the family adhere to this rule?

One thing that does piss me off about this is you saying that it's because their birthdays are just after Christmas. Mine is just before and my parents always made sure that it was celebrated in its own right and didn't 't just get lumped in with Christmas festivities.

As for other parents not agreeing with you that is their right just as it is your to make this decision for your dc.

arabellarubberplant Sun 23-Feb-14 17:57:35

There are millions of parents that do this - you are being quite naive if you think it was your idea - my eldest is 14 and it's been steadily gaining in popularity since at least she starting getting invited to parties. There used to be only one or two in a class about ten years ago, these days I'd say half of parents opt for the 'no presents and look at me I'm so charitable' route.

There are even organisations that do half and half for you - guests can contribute a wee donation to a charity of your choice and a teeny contribution so that the birthday kid gets a single gift of choice from the combined guests.

I prefer the ones where the invitation in advance says what the charity is, etc. and I don't particularly like the idea of a donations bucket. It's also very common that no one gets a party bag, and the invitation says explicitly 'no party bags as we will be making a donation to x instead'.

But y'know, other than just doing what everyone else is doing because no one likes a houseful of pink crap, no yanbu. Of course not. You are just following the overall trend of the last ten years.

AIBU to do what everyone else is doing? Um, no.

arabellarubberplant Sun 23-Feb-14 17:58:25

(Except for the family thing. No gifts from family is just martyrdom taken to extremes.)

HoratiaDrelincourt Sun 23-Feb-14 18:00:05

I think it's ok if your children get things when they want/need them in general. But most children only get new toys at Christmas and birthdays and as presents, so they wouldn't get anything if their birthdays didn't generate new toys.

trashcanjunkie Sun 23-Feb-14 18:00:37

I think presents at a party are the norm. I can't quite verbalise why I feel this way, but your post has made me feel angry and upset. Your dd may agree with you, but children often want to adhere to parents odd demands and then feel shit at a later date. I have twins who's birthday is just after Christmas. They don't get tons of presents, but in the past when we did whole class parties, they did get lots of presents which they enjoyed opening at the time, and then as they were played with less I siphoned off to give to charity, jumble, whatever. Also, I felt sad to hear she spent the money on toys for others. I don't know why, it just feels a bit worthy and unnecessary and weird. Obviously others may feel differently, but that's my thoughts.

usualsuspect33 Sun 23-Feb-14 18:02:30

So they don't get birthday presents from anyone?


trashcanjunkie Sun 23-Feb-14 18:02:44

*whose, not who's

Wantsunshine Sun 23-Feb-14 18:04:59

My friends parents did this, she hated it. Her children now have the biggest parties and the party bags are incredible. She says she is making up for her childhood.
Bit mean to say its close to Christmas. It is still your child's special day.

Ifcatshadthumbs Sun 23-Feb-14 18:05:18

I'd probably ignore your request too and buy a gift, especially if I knew no one was buying any.

formerbabe Sun 23-Feb-14 18:05:44


I'm sorry but I think it is very strange and a bit sanctimonious.

It is one day for your child to enjoy and be a bit spoilt.

I think its mean and smug.

vestandknickers Sun 23-Feb-14 18:06:38

Cripes. All very worthy, but how sad for your children.

rookiemater Sun 23-Feb-14 18:07:09

I'm torn on this one. On the one hand I know exactly what you mean about the sack full of toys from a class party - most of which don't get played with. However at Christmas time we decided only to get DS a couple of presents rather than loads and it was rather sad when he opened them and looked around rather forlornly.

DCs are only young for a short time so it seems a bit of a shame if your DD doesn't get anything, but I suppose if she is happy with it, then fine.

Wantsunshine Sun 23-Feb-14 18:07:14

I would buy a gift regardless as I would feel sorry for the child. Also the charity may be one I would not want to support.

mrsscoob Sun 23-Feb-14 18:10:19

In my experience about half the class will bring a present and the other half will put money in a card. You could easily just donate the money to a charity and the same with the toys. There is no need to advertise it. I agree with formerbabe it seems a bit smug.

Aeroflotgirl Sun 23-Feb-14 18:12:47

I admire your ethical stance but yabvvu and it's really sad that your dc do not get presents for their birthday or at their party. The charity donation I feel should be optional, so that those who want to give your dc a present can. Even though they are getting a party, a token present from you won't hurt. They are not children for very long, and art of the fun I think of birthdays us opening presents, and the anticipation.

unlucky83 Sun 23-Feb-14 18:17:36

But coffee I'm trying to think why she thinks it is wrong? What am I missing? Maybe it is taking the pleasure of giving away for the child who is invited?
(Choosing presents with Dcs is something I always find a bit of a chore personally)
Piper - I know about the Christmas thing - but a big party is making a big deal - they get a card and I make a cake for the day and another cake for their party...and we don't have a big family and they don't live locally so they get cards with money in the post so they can chose what to do with it (I don't make them give it that to charity!) eg one year DD1 got the money for a bike from my Uncle (we went and chose it together) And they get a lot for Christmas and do get what they need and little treats throughout the year...
Arabella I do say where it went etc...and who it is for is on the tin - and they are charities they know about....and as my eldest is 13 now I was obviously a trendsetter!
trash that's what I am interested in - why it makes you uncomfortable? Can you really not verbalise it?
As to choosing the toys - never the intention - just worked out that way but DD2 was very excited about it...did I think the babies would like this or that etc?...(And she got to meet the Hedgehogs from the sanctuary etc)
Ahh - I'm not smug about it at all...just curious and they do have a choice - a big party or a (big) present...

caketinrosie Sun 23-Feb-14 18:19:00

Wow. It's just one of two days in a child's life that they get to feel they are the most important person in the world, to everyone. One of two days when they have gifts given to them for no other reason than to let them know they matter, they are important. I totally respect your beliefs and your desire to help others, but there are 363 other days in the year you could do that. I work far too long and miss far too much, but birthdays and Christmas? No, never. Then they get a bunch of stuff. Gifts wrapped in lovely paper a big cake, games, a lovely outfit a trip out, a meal or a party whatever. Simply, they get to do whatever they want and I spoil them rotten and the rest of the world can get stuffed. I even sing, loudly and out of tune and it makes me glad to be alive. smile

HoratiaDrelincourt Sun 23-Feb-14 18:22:24

I don't think you can know what your children actually feel about it.

It's probably better than evens that the other parents are eye-rolling at your conspicuous worthiness.

Just say "no gifts please".

FixItUpChappie Sun 23-Feb-14 18:23:13

Well. I'll tell you, because you asked, that I would think to myself that it seems controlling, sanctimonious and off-putting.

Nothing wrong of course with raising giving children that are involved with the community.....but I suppose I think you can do so and still let your kids enjoy birthday presents. Presents are FUN and fun + childhood - that is kind of a nice thing in its own right IMO.

unlucky83 Sun 23-Feb-14 18:23:42

For DD1's first party we got just presents ...I think money in a card would be seen as bad form here - (Know from shared parties - just the odd gift card from Waterstones)
(although I put money in a card for one birthday as they have been desperately saving up for something that will cost thousands for the last 5 yrs at least!)
They get all the build up and then are the centre of attention for 2 hours - in my book that is a big deal!

Aeroflotgirl Sun 23-Feb-14 18:24:52

Is it you who wants it, and your dc is just going along with what mum wants. I bet that if tgey received a present they would be really happy. It's one day of your child's life to make them feel special, IMHO presents is a part of that!

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