Confession Tuesday {5.29.12}


May 29, 2012 by Gina

Okay…I’m a bit concerned about writing this confession.  There’s always some trepidation when it’s my turn for a confession.  First, I have to wrack my brain for a confession and then second, am always a bit worried about how people may react.  I’ve had this confession in my head for awhile, but am still a bit worried about what people may think.  Here goes…

Finn and his robot cake for his 3rd birthday

My son, Finnegan, just turned three.  It was a really fun birthday – the first where he truly understood that it was his birthday, that we would be having a party for him, he would have cake and friends and presents.  The anticipation and joy was so amazing to watch and he asked me almost everyday, “Mom, am I still three?”.  So here’s the confession part about his birthday (and more birthdays to come).  I feel like when we have friends over for birthday parties and then in turn have us over for their kids’ birthday parties, we’re just swapping money.  This of course, is done in the form of gifts.  Friends give Finn a gift and then he goes to the next kids’ birthday party and brings a gift and then onto the next birthday party with more gifts.

I’m not upset that we (and Finn) have such wonderful friends, neighbors, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins that love him and want to give him gifts.  We had a great time during his birthday party and it was great to see all the kids play together and devour their cake!  It’s just that he (we) doesn’t (don’t) need all of the stuff and he gets so much that he just goes onto the next gift and then the next gift and hardly pays attention to any of it.  I love to watch him open the gifts and get excited about them but a few days or weeks later, he doesn’t even remember about them.  He’s onto the next thing in his little world.

So do you have any ideas or strategies to deal with all of this stuff or to stop swapping gifts/money with friends?  Do you have agreements with friends that you just don’t bring gifts to each other’s birthday parties?  Is that awful of me even to ask or think?  We’ve asked many of our family members to gift money toward zoo memberships or to give “experience” type gifts and that has worked well.  My parents bought the boys a swingset for their birthdays this year and last year we used the money Finn received for his birthday to buy a zoo membership.

Opening gifts (with Grace’s help)

I want my children to have wonderful, memorable birthdays filled with fun and joy.  I just don’t want them to expect so many gifts and to feel like they “deserve” all of this stuff.  Does that make sense?  I really am not Ebeneezer Scrooge on birthdays!

6 thoughts on “Confession Tuesday {5.29.12}

  1. I do agree with you, Gina (and I’ve had a lot more years of birthday parties to go by!) What I did with the other boys was to put on their invitation, “the only present we want is your presence” until they were 4 or 5. Unfortunately, that didn’t work with Miles since he saw his twins’ birthday party a few months before his and couldn’t stop talking about how he was going to get to open presents. It was the act of present opening that was important, though, not the gift itself, so to anyone who asked me for ideas, I said to buy him something cheap, like fruit snacks! (He still plays a lot with the binoculars Finn gave him, by the way!) It does get overwhelming, but once they get into school, there isn’t a lot you can do about it.
    When the twins were in first grade, they were invited to SEVENTEEN birthday parties, so my strategy became to shop cheap. I buy “party gifts” on clearance whenever I find them–I love 75% off at Target when it’s available, and I stock my closet at home. The boys “shop” there instead of the store, avoiding another painful experience, which is taking your child shopping for a friend. They always want to buy the friend the $50 cool gift and not the gift you can afford! I was not looking forward to the twins’ party this year, since it comes right after Christmas anyway, and they invited 15 friends this year, but it actually wasn’t too bad. They did lots of stuff, but most of it has been a big hit. There is one game in our closet, however, that has yet to be touched. As they get older, it becomes popular to give gift cards. Someone gave the twins this year a $25 gift card to Regal Cinemas. Gavin this year got $40 in Target gift cards from his friends that he used to get a video game he’s been wanting. Another kid gave him a bucket of snacks–Gavin was thrilled. One year, a friend gave him a certificate for an outing to a bookstore where he could pick out a book and then go get ice cream. That was a big hit.
    I do have a friend that has people bring gifts for Ronald Mcdonald house to her son’s parties in lieu of gifts for him. He’s 9 and has done this for several years. She claims it’s all his idea, and now he seems fine with it, but I remember when he was about 6, someone brought something really cool, and he was complaining that he couldn’t play with it. My boys, however, feel sorry for him and are appalled at the idea of a party with no presents. So, I guess my strategy in a nutshell is to buy cheap when you can for other kids’ parties, and for your own kids, when people ask for ideas, give them ideas that are cool, but non-toy, such as gift cards, snacks, etc. I am a little cautious to mention gift cards because it seems like you are asking for money, but I did tell a couple of Gavin’s friends’ moms that I’m close to that a gift card would make him happy because he was saving up for that video game. Good luck and enjoy MANY years of birthday parties to come!

  2. Jenny says:

    Right?I actually learned from my friend to just write on the invitations – No gifts please OR “your presence is gift enough”! It works well and when we don’t open presents after the cake, the people who thought I didn’t mean it and brought one anyways saw they REALLY didn’t need to and didn’t do it the next year.

  3. Kristin Lamberty says:

    I agree that the gifts can get crazy. I would so much rather that my child end up with one or two nice things that she’ll really use than 10 cheap plastic toys that will break or just take up space (first in her closet and then eventually in a landfill). I’ve never actually asked for gift cards from friends when they ask, but I know that American Girl gift cards would be a very welcome present. We try to give either something that was on the kid’s list or something like art supplies that will be loved and used creatively. For gift cards, it seems like some of those amounts were pretty large. Are people really spending $25-40 on a gift for a kid’s party?

  4. g says:

    We have been to a number of parties that say “no gifts please” and plan to do the same next month. The kids have a great time together and the “gifts” really don’t seem to be missed.

  5. Gina says:

    Great comments everyone and yes, Natalie, I can imagine with twins it can be doubly crazy! I love all the advice so thank you. Kristin, I know I don’t spend that much for a kid’s party – my limit is $10 (I also try to buy gifts on clearance). I think Natalie meant the gift cards to Target totalled $40 – not that it was received from one person. This is a difficult situation to navigate – harder than I thought it would be to make sure kids have fun, learn the value of giving but at the same time don’t expect so much. Keep the thoughts coming!

  6. Yes, Gavin’s gift cards TOTALED $40–he did have one kid give him $20, which I thought was a lot, but I’ve noticed that my kids often get gifts that are more in the $20 than $10 range. It’s nice people can be generous–or maybe they just get great deals like me–but I have too many birthday parties to spend $20. The twins’ did get a $25 movie gift card, but that is for two kids, so $12.50 a kid didn’t seem too outrageous. Since I deal-shop, my goal is $5 a kid. I love it when I can get a $20 gift on clearance for $5!

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