My daughter turns 5 this year. As birthday milestones go, this is certainly a big one. For her and us. Any parent can attest to the bittersweet moment when a child starts Kindergarten. Those first steps towards the bus, the new back pack and that last wave goodbye. Heart wrenching but so monumental in their meaning. I went online to find the best ways I can make her birthday memorable and among the many themes, came across the Fiver birthday party. For a 5-year-old, the name seemed like the perfect fit till I went on to read what it was.
Now, at the face it is a brilliant idea.
Every child coming to the party is requested to bring a $5 bill in a card and then the birthday kid gets to combine the total towards a larger present that they desire. The invitations would read something like, “So-and-so is having a “fiver” party! He wants to save up for a [insert gift here], so if you wish to send a gift, please include $5 in a card instead!” or something along those lines; worded respectfully with no pressure to include any gift at all.
I certainly get why this would be a great option for the many celebrations we host for our kids.
A Rewarding Option
With say, 8-20 kids in a class if you get invited to even 10 parties it reduces the overall cost. Even if you spend $10 per child, not counting the many other expenses of parties throughout the year this becomes cost effective. Not to mention the fact that the money goes towards something the kid really wants.
We all know how hard it is to go to the store and buy a gift for someone. We never know what the kid would like, and then end up spending a good amount of time pondering over the various options. Even if we know what the child likes, sometimes we do not know what they already have. Other times, we fear disappointment.
Yes! A lot of presents translate into a lot of “stuff” around the house which eventually becomes a headache for us as we have to clean up daily after play or have to figure out where in the closets to place them.
Makes the Birthday Kid More Thoughtful
In the material world we live in, this may be a great idea where the child is not focused on the presents but on having a good time. Also, they would need to put in a lot of thought into what toy they most want. Or worry about who brought want.
Let’s face it. Sometimes those thoughtless, last minute or re gifted gifts can be downright hurtful, not just to the kid but to the parents as well. The disappointment is hard to witness.
I do have the other side of the coin to present on this subject though. My take on how traditional gifts help our children grow –
Exploring New Paths
When my son was little, I was dreading Legos. Having heard the horror stories of how much of a mess they make, they were the last thing on my mind when I hosted his 4th birthday party. One of our very good friends gifted him a Lego building box. My son took to it immediately and became passionate about creating. He went onto building vehicles, towers, cities, fidget spinners and now is into Lego animation. Last month he created a video for the school’s Reflections competition and won third place in it. All because someone gave an unexpected gift on his birthday. Over the years, he has received dinosaur building kits, robots, books etc that I as a parent would never have thought of and they all contributed to his mental development.
There is an Excitement in Opening Presents
Even I as an adult love the excitement of removing the crinkled paper and seeing a thoughtful gift inside, however less in material value. I have pictures of both kids surrounded by their presents every year. That smile before and as they open them is precious.
Thoughtful Gifts Build Relationships
Every cherished gift has made stronger the foundation of the relationships for every child remembers that one gift that meant the world to them. My kids have even kept most of the hand made cards they have received.
Giving with Meaning
I used to run to the store and grab a gift while the kids were in school. I thought it would avoid the drama of them crying for it. Recently though, I have started taking them to the store to pick out gifts for their friends. The reasoning they put into what they get for their friends is heartwarming.
Yes, there is disappointment when you see someone put next to no thought in what they gift you. It is still a wonderful learning opportunity for our children to accept what they get with grace and humility. Also, it is our job to shift the focus away from the presents and onto the present. Taking ownership of their “stuff” and clearing things up is a big part of kids’ personal development.
The cons of a fiver party can certainly not beat the convenience and cost effectiveness the theme provides. But it is certainly something to ponder over. Maybe that is where balance comes into play. Like how some years we have birthdays that are over the top in their extravagance and other days it’s just us, pizza or a memorable trip somewhere.