Give a gift that gives

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“No gift is hot new trend for kids’ birthdays,” it read. The article, that Editor Susan had given me, grabbed me like a Canada goose going after my kid’s bread crust. “Interesting,” I thought, “I got on board ahead of schedule.”

I had already tried this six years ago when my youngest turned 5. “We just want to get all her friends together and have fun,” I had told the parents. “We’ll have pizza, games, read-a-story time, and no gifts, please.”

I wasn’t trying to be noble at the expense of my child. It made sense. Our house is small and already too full of stuff. Although Kathie’s December birthday isn’t her fault, it has always presented its own set of problems with Christmas only two weeks away and more presents to allow for then.

They didn’t take me seriously. Only one mom seemed to hear and understand me. Her child gave Kathie a card and her favorite kind of chewing gum. The rest did what was usually expected and brought a gift.

So how about this trend? According to the Wall Street Journal article, parents are asking guests to “lay off the loot.”

One entertainment complex that throws kids’ parties estimates that one-quarter of the 55 events it books each month are present-free.

Parents are tired of “overblown bashes.” They would rather have kids pool presents, donate them to charity, or just plain go without. Some parents say they are also trying to instill new values in kids who’ve always had it all. “Here, here! I’m in.”

The article points out another advantage to the no gift party – no thank-you notes.

These giftless bashes don’t go over with everyone (as I found out at Kathie’s party.) Some can’t bear to arrive at a birthday party empty handed.

Psychologists argue that a no-gift party denies a child the excitement of ripping open a package and fails to teach guests the happiness of giving. From where I’m watching, we have no worry over that.

How about allowing a modest gift experience at birthday time and cutting back at Christmas? Now this could really teach some values. The whole family could go for a gift that gives.

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