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.
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.|