NWI Parent

Can We Please Have a “No Gifts” Party? Apparently Not.

July 26th, 2011 - By Jamie Bissot

Both of my children have July birthdays, this makes party planning pretty easy while they’re young – one party, double the fun. Last week, we held their party at the Oasis Splash Park in Michigan City. This was the first day of our week of mega-heat here in NWI, and the shade of the pavilion and the spray of the water was a welcome treat.

This year, things have been a little hairy around here. With the husband temporarily handicapped, I basically live everyday running around taking care of three people – morning till’ night. It was tough at first, but I’ve gotten used to it – we all have. With all the chaos, I’ve not exactly had as much time to, well, do much other than make sure everyone is clothed and fed.

I like to take the time to talk to my kids about things like respect, thoughtfulness, giving and gratitude. With all that was/is going on, I haven’t had much time to do a lot of talking. One thing I really like to point out to my children is how to be thankful. Being grateful is a very powerful thing for anyone, and I want my children to understand how easy it is to slip into taking things for granted. I knew that with the impending party – and gifts – that a gratitude talk was due.

To be honest, I don’t love the gift aspect of birthday parties. When we attend someone else’s party, my child is so excited to give a gift, but when my own children are the birthday gals, they are inundated with  way too many gifts, and it’s all just…too much. They are overwhelmed.

I really thought of hosting a “no gifts please” party once, but everyone I talked to said “No way!” Apparently, no one else thinks this is a good idea but me. My children have everything they could ever need. They don’t need to receive twenty gifts because twenty friends come to their party. But, as of right now, it seems I’m the only one in the “no gifts” party boat.

This year, I asked my oldest if she would rather have longer to play at the splash park, or stop to open gifts. She said she’d love having a longer time to play and open gifts later – so that’s what we did.

We lugged all the beautifully wrapped gifts home and placed them on the dining room table. That was when I had an ‘Aha!’ moment. The thing that bothers me most about receiving so many gifts at a party is that my kids are overwhelmed with the amount of gifts and can’t possibly take the time to enjoy and say thank you for each one.

By doing them at home, we selected one per day, we read the card, think about who it’s from, then play with that one – opening no more. This has worked beautifully. My children acknowledge that someone went out of their way to select a gift for them, they think about how much they like it and how much they love their friend.

So, while I can’t have everything my way, I did manage to get something just the way I wanted it – thankful, mindful children who understand it’s not the gift at all – it’s the friend.

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