We attended this year’s 20th Children’s Birthday Party last weekend. Along the back wall of the soft play area, about 30 shiny, perfectly-wrapped presents were piled high, and the 6th birthday boy opened them when he got home.
My three children ages 4, 6 and 8 made cards as a thank you for being invited instead of bringing gifts. Just because we couldn’t afford one doesn’t mean we forgot about it, but spending £350 (plus) each year on other people’s children’s birthday gifts is on our list of priorities. After talking with the children, we decided to only buy gifts for close friends and hand-made cards for everyone else.
My kids each have 20-30 kids in their class and birthday parties are back in full force since the Covid lockdown ended. I appreciate you inviting us, but I feel guilty every time I bring a token gift, such as a handmade card or coloring book, instead of a bag full of Lego or Playdough sets.
My parents never judged me for the choices we made, at least not while I was there, but that doesn’t take away the slight awkwardness of not going with the crowd.
If you’re a parent, you know that the typical gift or cash offering – yes, this actually happens – is between £5 and £10 for every birthday party your child attends. This is a cultural norm, a kind gesture of generosity and gratitude, but the pressure to do so can become a pressure for parents who are feeling financial pressure. I have.
There are parents in my social circle who refuse invitations to parties because they can’t afford presents. At a time when you’re likely struggling more than ever, is it time to challenge the assumption that you need to bring a birthday present as your admission ticket?
‘My daughter has been to 10 parties lately,’ said Katie* Me“Every time I go, I use part of my food budget to buy gifts.” I remembered. After her recent string of birthday parties, Katie decided to follow suit: “I’m not going to keep buying presents. I will teach her daughter to do the same.”
Princess, 25, a London-based mother of two under three, said: If she doesn’t bring something, she looks like she’s not making an effort. She is very insecure because she doesn’t want to think that she doesn’t care about her parents and children by bringing nothing. ”
As the Princess points out, etiquette requires you to bring a gift. are feeling more pressure, especially as the cost of living is rising.”
“It’s an age-old conundrum when parents feel obligated to give their kids a gift every birthday,” said Maddy Alexander-Grout, founder of savings app My VIP Rewards. Me“But parents shouldn’t feel pressured. It’s not a gift you give.”
According to Renee*, her son is invited to at least 18 parties a year. When she recently threw a party for her own son, some of the gifts he received were worth her over £50. “I was embarrassed and felt like I was stingy last year just by getting a book for every party,” Renee said. “I can’t and don’t want to use it reciprocally.”
Last year, Lenny started buying books as gifts for parties his son attended. “Now I’m ripped off because I want to stick to my guns and buy books instead of plastic crap that will live forever on earth, but maybe everyone knows we’re really stingy. Or do you think there is no joy?”
Both Renee and Princess touched on the issue that was the crux of this conversation. I mean, worry about what other parents will think if you don’t bring presents. Do they think we are poor? stingy? forgetful? Would you like a free party?
As a parent myself, I don’t mind if my child comes to the party without a present. Their main goal is not to get a toy store, but to help children have a good time. In fact, I am relieved. The least I need in my house is more plastic. This is the lesson I want my children to learn as well.
*Some names have been changed
A few tips on how to deal with the expensive birthday party gift dilemma, gathered from money-saving expert Maddie Alexander Grout and sustainable party guru Isabel Mack. I will introduce
- First and foremost, ask if your child would like to join the party.
- Lead by example. When hosting a party, ask that no gifts be given, or set limits on how much you can spend or give.
- Stock up on cheap token gifts with post-Christmas sales from locations like Home Bargains, The Works, B&M and more.
- Visit a charity shop or visit our online second-hand platform to find your favorite gift.
- We will return any unwanted toys that your child has received.
- Create your own card.