My daughter quickly gets overwhelmed with birthday party gifts. There are usually several craft sets, clothes that may or may not be her size, dolls with lots of tiny accessories and stinky body sprays. She appreciates that her friends and family care enough about her to come to her celebration and to bring a gift, but the items are rarely used and just contribute to clutter.
She was passionate about chimpanzees after a rescue organization visited her school last year. She wanted a monkey themed party in their honor. I saw a wish list on the rescue’s website and suggested she invite her guests to bring donations for the chimps instead of gifts for her.
She was instantly enthusiastic about the idea – especially once she learned Mom and Dad would still buy her presents as usual. This way she had a good chance of getting something she really wanted and got to help the chimps at the same time.
She enclosed the wish list and her request in the invitations. She collected a big box of peanut butter, raisins, dried fruit and stuffed animals for the chimpanzees. She felt great – and her guests did, too.
In fact, she’s asked for it to be an annual tradition. It’s a great way to shift the focus from “what am I getting?” to “what am I giving?”
Here are five ideas for charitable birthday parties.
This is a great theme for late summer and early fall birthdays. Ask guests to bring school supplies, backpacks or lunchboxes. Donate those items to a local nonprofit or to your child’s school to pass on to children who need them.
Do you have aspiring chef? Invite guests to join you in the kitchen for make-your-own pizza or cupcakes. Ask for donations of nonperishable food for your local food bank or soup kitchen.
Have your animal lover encourage friends to bring a favorite stuffed animal as their guest to the party. Collect donations of pet food, toys, towels and kitty litter for the animal shelter.
Decorate in funky, vibrant patterns and colors. Encourage guests to wear their wildest clothes. Have a contest to see who can bring the most colorful socks. Donate them to a local foster care agency or homeless shelter.
Is your child obsessed with a book series, such as “Harry Potter,” “Percy Jackson,” “Junie B. Jones,” “Berenstain Bears” or “Hunger Games”? Theme the party around that and asks guest to bring their favorite book to pass on to another child. Donate the books to a children’s hospital, shelter or school.
My daughter wants to collect Christmas gifts for homeless children at her next birthday party. Once kids get a taste of how good it feels to give, chances are high that they will want more of it.
What charities are important to your family? Do you think your child would be on board with collecting donations instead of gifts?