There’s a trend lately to say “no presents” for a child’s birthday, but Heather believes that kids should get gifts. Don’t miss her compelling reasons why.
When I was a kid, I loved to make friendship bracelets. I used to spend hours on them choosing the colors, then braiding the tiny strings together in perfect harmony. I would give them to friends, my parents, and my brother (I’m sure he loved that).
My daughters haven’t learned to make friendship bracelets at this age, but they LOVE to make gifts for other people.
They make drawings, string beaded necklaces, illustrate cards, and delight in personalizing them for their friends and parents.
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There seems to be a trend lately to say “no gifts” for kids birthdays.
Seriously? That’s like the highlight of a kid’s year. And I get that we don’t want to spoil our children, and we don’t want tons of kid crap flowing into our homes.
But no gifts? Is that the answer?
When I noticed the growing trend to not allow gifts at kids’ birthday parties, it made me sad.
I understand that people are trying to limit clutter and try to keep kids from becoming entitled little twerps. I totally support that aspect of the idea.
But kids should get gifts.
And I believe these well-meaning parents that say “NO GIFTS” miss the point of giving presents. By restricting giving, they’re not only robbing their own kids of the joy of receiving gifts, but they’re stealing the joy of giving from all their child’s friends.
What Is A Gift?
A gifts is an expression of love from one person to another.
Miriam Webster defines a gift as “Something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation”
Giving forms a bond, a tie between two people or groups. It’s almost a sense of “they did that for me so now I ‘owe’ them.” But it’s not owing in the obligatory way, where you give because you have to, even though you don’t want to.
I mean, it CAN feel that way. I get it. Like when our kid is invited to a child’s birthday that we barely even know and getting a gift seems like one more thing to do.
However, in the true sense, the “owing” resulting from a gift is a sense that the friendship took a deeper turn.
They went out of their way for me, and now I want to go out of my way for them. It’s a response of love and care for that person. A give and take, a dance between friends.
Reasons For Asking For “No Gifts”
Several popular rationales have popped up for requesting “no gifts please” at a birthday party.
Less Is More. Away With Clutter
I for one am fairly diligent about purging, but I still find myself feeling under the pile of too much stuff.
However, Marie Kondo living is not the only way. Yes, sometimes less is more. There is peace in the simplicity, and we can focus our attention on more important things when we have less “stuff.”
But is taking the joy of getting gifts away from our kids on their birthdays the best way to accomplish this?
I say no.
We Shouldn’t Receive, We Should Give To Charity
I love hearing sweet stories of kids, usually at least in upper elementary, who choose to voluntarily give up their presents for a good cause. Their parents are obviously doing a good job of exposing them to the needs in this world and how to keep perspective.
But at what age is it the child’s true wish vs the parent’s choice? Of course, there’s no set age but a maturity level.
Overall, there’s nothing holy about not receiving gifts.
Actually, just the opposite. In order to mature spiritually, we need to learn to receive from God. Here in America we are so dang independent, we want to do everything on our own.
I’m a very independent person myself, so this comes out of my personal journey from resisting help and then finally learning the beauty of receiving.
Not being willing to receive simply shuts others out and closes off the opportunity to gain a blessing.
You can give your kids the experience gifts on your own. You can donate to a charity in their name. But don’t cut them off from the beauty of learning to receive gifts from their peers (and learning to have good manners and be gracious when they get a gift they don’t like).
I will say that redirecting the giving to a charity still allows people to give out of love for their friend. Completely shutting off giving does not.
Kids Should Get Gifts So They Learn Beauty Of Receiving
Jesus is our ultimate example in giving and receiving. He gave everything to us in the form of His own life, His sacrifice, and salvation.
Yet during His ministry, Jesus allowed a woman to pour perfume all over his feet and love him extravagantly, even when it seemed wasteful.
Jesus knew how to receive. He also knew that when one makes a sacrifice, the giver experiences the greater blessing.
Examples Of Giving That Aren’t Plastic Junk
Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end, you can up-level giving by encouraging meaningful and memorable gifts.
Here are some examples:
- Have your kids spend 30 minutes creating a card with stickers and pictures just for their friend.
- Help them pick out something special for their friend because they love them and know what they like. If they don’t know, help them learn about their friend. [Sure, there are many times the mom does all the work or the kid whines because they want to keep the gift instead of give it (hand raised for both of those). But my oldest has also surprised me with the depth of her care for her friends, the thought she puts into their cards and gifts, and the joy she gets when watching her friends open her present.]
- Encourage the gift of a playdate, trip to the zoo, or another fun venture.
- One of my daughter’s friends went to a bead store and created a beautiful mermaid necklace for her, which she loves.
Kids Should Get Birthday Presents
So why put a burden on our kids by telling them they don’t get presents for their birthday party?
Let’s not rob our children of learning how to receive. Let’s not rob our friends’ children of learning the blessing of giving. If you need to have a purge party before or after the birthday in order to make space, by all means go for it.
Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
Let the kids get the presents! Giving is a lost art in our society. In this often dark and dreary world, let’s celebrate life with joy and giving. And don’t forget to throw in a friendship bracelet or two.