11.03.2013

A Day in the Life: A Birthday Bash with a Twist

A couple weeks ago we celebrated Stella's 4th birthday! It was the first birthday party we didn't have at home.  With the kids and dogs and Stella wanting her school friends to come it just made sense for us to have the party somewhere other than our house.  Luckily a friend of mine owns Belle Pointe Dance - a dance studio nearby and we where able to rent the space for a couple hours. 

Stella decided on her guest list and had 8 little friends join her ballet party.  They girls laughed and played, made their own tutu's and even had a mini dance lesson.  It was a fantastic way to keep nine 4 year old girls smiling and entertained. We had fruits and veggies and gluten-free cupcakes.

 But the one thing we didn't have was presents.

We did something a little different - instead of gifts, the guest brought an unwrapped toy to be donated to our local Christmas toy drive.  Now I had many people ask me how I ever convinced Stella to not have gifts.  Even my husband was sceptical when I told him the plan for the party.  Really, it all came about one night while we were walking the dogs and I casually asked Stella what she wanted for her birthday.  For the first time in a long time she went silent.  She thought about it and didn't have an answer.  So I asked her if maybe we would have people bring gifts for kids who don't have toys or food for the animal shelter or the food bank.  And she quickly insisted on getting toys for "kids that don't have any toys".  It was just that simple and honest.
Now in the weeks leading up to her party I would occasionally remind her that her friends weren't bringing gifts for her, but for the kids that don't have any toys.  And each time she would respond the same: "I know Mom! They're bringing toys for kids who don't have any!"

When we wrote out the invitations I included a little note to advise the parents that no gifts were necessary but if they wanted to bring something then they could bring an unwrapped toy for the toy drive.  Moms on the schoolyard we perplexed and telling me their kids would never go for that and how on earth did I convince my child to not have presents? There was no convincing or bribing or anything.  I just simply asked her and she made the decision.  We have donated toys in the past and various items to the Goodwill and she's always helped in making a pile to donate.  She will even sort her toys and pick out the ones she wants to give away.  She's a pretty sensitive and compassionate kid so I had faith that she would be OK with the decision.

But I admit, right up until her party started I had visions of her having a major meltdown and insisting on keeping all the toys.  Thankfully, my fears were unfounded.  We had a big box for the guests to put their toys and then we got the party started.

The kids has so much fun there was not even a question about presents.  Stella (and us) had a wonderful time celebrating her birthday with family and friends.  And that's really what it should be about, right?  Not about getting stuff and things; but about experiences & memories.  We certainly got our fill that day!

Stella with her big box of toys to donate.
We try to be caring and compassionate and instill those ideals in our children.  So why not start young?  Some people may think I'm a mean mother and crazy not to let my daughter have gifts for her birthday. But I can say that Stella had a wonderful time and still talks about how much fun her special day was. We filled our spirits & hearts with a fun-filled afternoon & helped to brighten some children's Christmases.  Now I think that's a pretty awesome way to have a  birthday!

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4 comments:

  1. Wow! That is such an inspiring story. There is no feeling like being able to help someone, at any age. What a great gift you've given your daughter, you're both awesome!

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  2. I think when the kids have so much fun it doesn't matter that there were no presents. I am thinking to do something similar for my 4 year old. She is turning 5 soon but she has lots of toys already so less will be ok.
    thank you for linking up with the #pinitparty

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  3. How lovely!!! We have an issue as erin and ethans bday is a week either side of Christmas so we have one bazillion presents they never really play with. What a fab idea xxx

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  4. How lovely. You mud be so proud of her.

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