Posted by: laughs4dads | October 27, 2010

Gift-Free Birthdays

I’ve recently written about the idiocy of children’s birthday parties, and I’m happy to report that somebody is doing something about it.

According to The New York Post, there’s a new trend in the New York metro area when it comes to kids’ birthdays: gift-free birthdays. The article quotes one parent as saying “These days kids get stuff all the time, and most of it ends up in landfills.”

Not surprisingly, this trend is really hot on New York’s Upper East Side, where kids actually do get stuff all the time. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suppose that this may not be true of most of the kids in this country.

The article also quotes Bill Doherty, a researcher in childhood consumer culture at the University of Minnesota and co-founder of as saying the gift-free approach is “picking up steam.” This is probably a good thing for the founder of Birthdays Without Pressure to say. I, personally, would like to add that dads should have laughs.

In any case, The Post would have us believe that the altruistic children of New York and New Jersey are taking great pleasure in opting to have guests at their birthday parties make charitable donations in lieu of presents, much in the same way adults sometimes do when someone dies. Well, not in lieu of presents, of course, but in lieu of flowers. And, when you think about it, most of us go through our entire lives without saying “in lieu” except when someone dies. Unless you’re French.

Where was I?

Right, gift-free birthdays. I have a suspicion that it’s not the kids choosing this option, but their parents, who are fed up with having to shop for gifts every other week because kids today have way more friends than any two-year-old has a right to have.

What with all the kids your child probably knows through playgroups, Gymboree and other organized activities, your two-year-old may have a heavier social schedule than Paris Hilton.  When Casey was that age, there was such a proliferation of parties that she not only learned “Happy Birthday,” she seemed to be under the impression that a soiree would begin instantly upon her rendition of said song, even if she happened to be in the bathtub at the time.

So, sure, gift-free birthdays make life much easier. But, come on, don’t try to make it sound like it’s the kids’ idea! Yes, I’m sure there are some sainthood-bound children out there who would happily forgo that xBox in order to help out, which is a foundation I just made up. Um, wait a second…let me check. Right–as of this writing, there is no such organization. But there should be, because if ever there was a charity that would get kids to tell people to make donations to it in lieu of birthday gifts, that would be the one.

But if you and your child (okay, you) do want to throw a gift-free birthday, there’s a place you can go for help: At this site, you can select and email invitations, and people can send your child money through the site. Then sends half of the money to the charity of your choice, and half of the money to your child to use to get a “dream gift.” then keeps a 15% “administration fee,” which, I suspect, is a euphemism for “profit,” especially since I can’t help noticing that their website has a “.com” and not a “.org” suffix.

So magically manages to distribute 115% of the gift money, and your charity is happy for the donation, and parents are happy to have been saved the trouble of shopping, and your child is happy because she gets to feel good about herself and get Barbie’s Dream House, and all is right with the world.

Except for the people who make wrapping paper.

P.S. Speaking of birthdays…Happy Birthday, Barbara! I’ve made a donation in lieu of buying you a gift. (Yeah, right!)



  1. Whats with all these negative birthday party blogs anyway? Don’t you know that the only reason we never did birthdays for Casey was her birthday took place while everyone was away? Are you the scrooge of birthdays or what??? Thanks for my birthday wished though.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: