Every year, we look forward to celebrating our children on their birthday! We get excited to plan their parties and to make them the centre of attention for the whole day, if not the whole week! We talk about what type of party they want, where they want it be and what the theme of the party will be so that we can prepare the decorations, loot bags and the cake! As you can imagine, like most kids, the topic of presents always comes up. We have our own opinions on presents, both receiving and giving! Did you know that there are birthday gift alternatives that incorporate giving back?
How do you feel about birthday presents?
We ask this question both as the host of the party and the guest of the party. Here are our thoughts! As a parent of the birthday child, the presents give me anxiety! When we plan a party, the purpose is to bring our kids friends and families together to celebrate our child as they grow another year older. As far as we are concerned, their presence is present enough! The last thing we want is 30 some-odd kids bringing 30 some-odd presents that we now need to make room for in our home! No thank you!
As the party guest, we always look forward to celebrating the birthday child, but let’s be honest, running to the store to buy a gift is never at the top of the to-do list! You’re never sure what the kid will like, especially if they are a school friend that you don’t well, and you never know what they already have at home. As a guest, we have welcome gift alternatives with wide open arms!
A new way to gift and feel good
Over the last number of years, parents have been moving away from your typical “bring a gift party” and have begun focusing on ways to give back with birthday gifts. In our homes, we are always talking to our children about others who have less than us or those who don’t have at all. We talk about the importance of giving back and to giving to others. Throughout the year, we are always fundraising for different charities and birthday parties are a great reason to give back!
Give half back…or more!
Over the last few years, we have been using Echoage. Echoage is an online platform that takes care of you from sending invites to collecting gifts. Once you set up a free Echoage account, you create your invite to send to all of your guests. Simply add the email addresses the way you would do so for an evite or paperless post. But, in addition to sending out the invite, guests will have the opportunity to give a donation instead of sending a wrapped gift to the party.
When getting your invite ready, you will have the opportunity to scroll through the participating charities to select the one you would like your guests to donate to. Echoage age also suggests including what you child would like as a group gift that you will be able to use the funds for later. You decide what percent of the fund will go to the charity at a minimum of 50%. Then, 50%, or whatever percent you decide on, will go to the charity and the remaining percentage will go to you. Guests will be sent a tax receipt, and when you close your party, a check will be sent to you to purchase your child a gift.
Why we love this
Each year, we sit with our birthday child and we look through the charities. We talk with our child about what some of the charities do and then we pick one. There are many charities that resonate with us and our kids, such as the local hospital, our child’s school and programs that help pay for children to go to camp. We love that this helps us talk to our children about where they would like the money to go and how charities help others. This way, our child receives one meaningful gift, instead of 30 gifts that we are fortunate enough to not need. We believe that it is so important for our children to learn about giving back and helping others at an early age and we love that these programs exist to encourage it!
After our child’s birthday, they sent us an email asking if they could write about our kids as Echoage heros! How amazing is that?! You can read the post here on their site! You can also print out a hero award for your child after their party to make them feel extra special and drive home importance of giving back!
Gift with Gifted!
While we are talking about birthday’s, GIFTED is set up to manage all of your events! We are talking weddings, engagement parties, births and so on! Gifted is more of a registry service and an easy way to ask for money so that you can decide what to spend your child’s birthday gift money on whether it be their education, new clothes, toys or whatever else they might need! In addition, one of the differences between Echoage and gifted is that you decide what percentage gets donated to charity between 1 and 100%. Every dollar counts, so if 5% feels like the right amount for to donate, that is 5% more than the charity had before.
We love that there are options to helps us donate a percentage of gifts to charities that are meaningful to us. It’s also important for us to have the opportunity to include our children in the process from picking their invitations to picking the charity that they will be helping.
Other Gift Alternatives
We have all received invitations with the phrase “your presence is your present” on them. While this is a great way to convey to your attendees that gifts are not necessary, many people want to contribute something for this special occasion. A ‘Fiver’ party is a great alternative to traditional presents. For these parties the host requests that attendees bring $5 for the birthday star to put toward a gift of their choosing. This is such a convenient way for party guests to give while not breaking the bank. Let’s be honest, we all have a lot of birthday parties to attend now that our children are in school and they all add up.
Another great alternative to bringing a physical present is always experiences. We know that many experience gifts cost too much for one family to give so coming together to contribute is a great idea. UpGift is a platform where guests can contribute money towards an experience (concert, theme park, etc) that the birthday star has chosen and added to their UpGift wish list. It is simple to set up a wish list for your child or yourself. At the end of your party the money is sent directly to your bank, or you can immediately redeem it for your wished upon activity.