By Ralphie Jacobs
My oldest daughter is turning 14 in just a few days. As we get closer to her birthday, I keep thinking how grateful I am for all the lessons we have learned together.
In honor of her special day, I’m sharing with you how to create a Birthday Party With Meaning (and no presents). There were really two main reasons why our family stumbled on the decision to have no-present birthdays:
- I am a minimalist and love keeping our toy room very simple to encourage creative play. See my article here that talks much more about that.
- I really wanted my children to understand that celebrations are about feeling joy in friendship and life, and really have nothing to do with tangible gifts.
How to have a “no present” birthday party
When we began sending out invitations for parties, with the line “no presents please”, sweet mamas would send notes back begging to bring SOMETHING! They wanted to celebrate my little girl and I completely understood. Showing up to a child’s birthday party empty handed does feel somewhat unnatural.
So we took a step back and decided to change our way thinking. What if instead of it being an all-about-me party or a what-did-I-get party we changed it into a “together we can make a difference that matters” party.
Each child would have a part to play. We would come up with a way to serve and then ask those invited to be in on the service. Here are some things that we’ve done:
- Random Acts Of Kindness (each child brings an item on a list to help, like donuts for the firemen)
- Children’s Home book donations
- Food Bank shelf safe food donations
- Educational Materials to Uganda
Though our children have not always been super keen on the idea, I really believe that it’s our job as parents to help them get over those bumps and so they end up in a place with lots of long term joy and happiness. Getting there is a process and it always will be.
After each party we have had the most wonderful experiences dropping off donations.
After each party we have had the most wonderful experiences dropping of donations.
- Orphans sang happy birthday to our 5 year old.
- The manager of the food bank gave us a tour and let my daughter see the families that are blessed by the donations.
- We even received pictures of children from Uganda with a sign saying “thank you” for the donations collected.
Those are the kinds of forever presents I want my children to have. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate a beautiful life than to give back.
Would you ever change to a present free birthday party?