Thursday, January 21, 2010

No presents

I feel pretty strongly that birthday parties have gotten pretty crazy and that there is too much emphasis put on spending money and receiving presents and goody bags, over having fun and celebrating as friends. I figured I’d try to do my share by keeping our parties small and requesting no presents. When I request no presents, I mean it. I’d really prefer that people not bring presents. When they don’t, I think that is great.

So why am I having a hard time following my beliefs when other people request no presents? We were recently invited to a small party (only 2 kids invited) that we ended up not being able to make. The mom requested no presents, or perhaps a used toy. This child is one of River’s buds, so I wanted to give him something, even if it was used. I wanted, on behalf of River, to express a sentiment of friendship and appreciation. We ended up buying him a $3 gift (token, but something nonetheless) on our roadtrip.

We’re invited to another party next weekend, that will be held at a play center. It’s being held jointly by two sets of parents. One little girl is sweet and she came to River’s party (and appropriately, she didn’t bring a present). I don’t know the little boy at all.

I think the idea of a joint party is great. The parents can split the costs of the rental facility. But one of my first thoughts was – what do you do about presents? Do we have to buy one for the kid we don’t know? I wasn’t going to, but wondered if it would be uncomfortable.

Then the invitation came and it said no presents, they just want their kids to spend time together with friends. My sentiments exactly. So why do I feel so uncomfortable about not bringing something?

Am I afraid that everyone else will bring a present and I will be embarrassed? Do I feel guilty that they are spending money renting a place that River would normally have to pay $10 to enter and feel a present would be a contribution to that? Do I want to express the fact that we like this little girl?

It does help to remember that they came to our party, they followed my request to not bring a present, and my opinion of them has nothing to do with that. In fact, I respect that they honored my request and I really respect that they are focusing their childrens’ celebrations on friendship rather than on material things. But still, strangely enough, I’m finding that I’m struggling a bit to step back and say, OK, we’ll go without a present, and we’ll show our friendship and appreciation by being there for her special event and spending time with her.

1 comment:

Lainey Wright said...

Why not just give presents on other occasions for no reason at all? Honestly, those are the very best sort: the ones you don't expect, something that someone picked out for you randomly just because they thought of you out of the blue. I think that could be a nice middle ground...