Recently I posted about my son's birthday celebration. Instead of the traditional "party" which includes gifts we simply celebrate with all our friends. No gifts, but we do have a box for non perishable food items should anyone wish to bring something.
That Guy and I made this decision about two years ago, just before Walter's second birthday. We did it for a number of reasons...
Primarily because I run a home day care. We have a bazillion toys. Really, a bazillion! Our day care toys are packed in huge plastic toy boxes and rotated out every two months. Which means ten of 12 months the toys sit quietly in the basement. So, my frugal friends, I put myself in the position of the purchasers of said toys. How sad and frustrated would I be if I worked hard to earn my pay cheque, took time away from my non working hours to find, buy and wrap a gift that would sit unused and unappreciated for the majority of its toy life? Very!
Of course there is always the benefit of teaching our children to give. Our family believes in the values and goals of our local Community Care charity and they are so great to our children. When we take the kids down with the food they collected at their birthday the Community Care volunteers treat them like mini celebrities. Everyone comes out to greet them, weigh the food and congratulate them on helping. Then they take some photos of them next to the donations. A few weeks later we get a wonderful and personal letter from the charity thanking my son or daughter. My kids come away feeling like giving back, being socially aware and helping how you can is fun, special and glamorous.
Additionally I love that we are teaching our children about how to celebrate without the commercial trappings. It really is about the celebration.
That being said, making this change didn't go perfectly smoothly when we first announced our decision. So partly to make peace and partly to maintain that certain element of childhood we do allow family to give a gift, but not at the birthday celebration.
I recognize for some the decision for no gifts may seem counter productive in my frugal lifestyle. After all, if my son gets a new pair of pants at his birthday wouldn't that give my budget a break instead of buying them? My response is, in theory yes. But in practice what my kids get out of this experience is something I could never buy.
We feel this is the happiest medium between giving and getting for our family. :)