Gift or Donation…what do You Suggest for YOUR Child’s Birthday?

Usually, for the first few years of our children’s lives we automatically connect with people who have children who are the same age as our own and it’s so funny how that age gap changes. Obviously, a child develops quite rapidly during their first year so a 3 month old really isn’t the same age as a 6 month old. As they grow, their development isn’t as rapid and drastic so a 3 month gap isn’t a big deal when the child is 18 months and 21 months…and so it continues until you’re may age and I consider a 5 year gap on either side to be the “same age” as me.

Doing this is great! Your child gets to socialize with their peers, you find friends to compare notes with and share funny stores that you can relate to. The downside, everyone’s birthday is around the same time! We have been going to atleast one birthday party every weekend for a month and this coming weekend we have two more. I’ve been so grateful for the friends who attended my son’s party to celebrate with him and I’ve been grateful for every invite he’s received, I know he’s been excited for each party we’ve attended so far, talking about candles and cake and singing. One thing I’ve noticed and have been thinking a lot about is the gift giving.

Some people have been very specific that they don’t want people to buy their children gifts and instead donate to a particular charity which they specify, others offer some ideas of what their child might need or want. What do you think? In such a materialistic world, I think it’s pretty cool to spend money on a charity rather than buying a child more toys that they might not need. But at the same time, exchanging gifts is a tradition and part of having a birthday, I don’t want to deprive my child up opening gifts, let’s face it, it’s fun! I also think it’s really nice, as children get older, when parents involve their children in purchasing a gift, asking them what they think their friend would like, having the child think about their friends’ likes and interests and buying a thoughtful gift. I

t’s tough. Last year I had planned on asking for donations. My son was only turning 1, he wouldn’t know the difference of receiving and opening gifts but when I contacted a local charity for children and asked if I could set up an account for people to donate on my son’s behalf so he could receive a little letter or I could print something off letting him know (in years to come) that he made a difference, that he was helping others even when he was a baby, they didn’t return my call. We were moving house, we were overseas for a wedding, we were living with friends in between possession dates…I didn’t follow through and my son ended up receiving gifts from everyone. I was upset that I dropped the ball but I was also glad he received some age appropriate toys as we don’t believe in buying toys just because, my husband and I both grew up only receiving gifts on holidays unless we bought something with our own money.

This year I tried to find a balance, when people asked me what they should get my kiddo I suggested a few toys, clothing items or a donation. He received mainly toys, some handmade items and clothes but he got one donation and it was perfect! It’s a world gift through CAFOD. I hate to think of the percentage going to admin fees with the nice colourful pamphlets that came for my son but at the same time, I think that’s exactly what organizations need to do to get kids involved and excited about giving. Our friend chose to donate a vegetable garden to a family in Bolivia because she knew he had been helping me in our garden so he could relate. It was so thoughtful and relevant and my son has something special to keep to remind him how important it is to help others and help make him aware of how blessed and fortunate he is to have the life he has.    I’m glad he got some toys, he was so excited to open them, he loved the cards as much as the gifts and he’s had so much fun playing and exploring all the wonderful new things he was so lucky to receive. When he uses something, I remind him who he got it from and what a lucky boy he is. I’m also very glad he got the gift of giving. We’ve always said we want volunteering and giving to just be a part of our children’s lives, something they don’t think about, they just do and introducing it at a young age is the perfect way to do it! Next year I plan to be more organized letting people know of any toys my son might appreciate but also suggest some child friendly charities too! I hope he continues to receive a nice balance for years to come.

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