Growing up, most of the birthday parties I went to were classic style: ice cream, cake and pin-the-tail on the donkey variations. Since then, they’ve morphed into major all-out themed events….pirate and medieval extravaganzas that involve walking the plank for a prize and even the use of an actual catapult—built specifically for party-goers entertainment. My nieces had an Alice In Wonderland, Mad Hatter tea party in full costume. Serious stuff.
New Trend: Themes and costumes are still a full-on go, but the GIFTS are altering in some cases. Recently, I’ve heard about kids asking guests to donate to a chosen cause rather than bring a gift. Pretty big stuff for kids, I think. Talk about instilling the ‘better to give than receive’ and socially responsible mindset early!
But, the question you might ask…as I did, initially, is ‘How could kids reach this decision without some serious heavy-handedness from parents? The answer, from what I’ve seen, has a lot to do with kids already being involved in a cause. Then, I can understand how this donation-in-place-of-gift idea happens. For example, the non-profit, Water Missions International, headquartered here in Charleston, has an annual walk where people simulate the several mile trek for water, women and children in developing countries have to do daily. Lots of kids do this annual walk with their parents. It’s a cause that has become tangible to them. Kids, too, enjoy being a part of something bigger than themselves. They can feel it, just as we do.
As always, there’s a balance to be had. No need to give up birthday gifts for any and all birthdays. But can’t wait to see what some of these civic-minded kids do later on in life!
Time out for nostalgic moments: Birthday party I loved:
1) As a kid: Friend’s mom made individual cakes for EACH person. Mine was Jiminy Cricket.
2) As an adult: My husband’s 40th. His name’s Jack and his birthday is Halloween. We had a ‘Just Jack’ party where everyone had to dress up as something ‘Jack’. Think about it. You’ll see. There are a lot of options and you’ll find you keep coming up with more. (I was Jack Frost, but the most original costume of the night was the hijacker, hands-down.)
What are some of your favorite birthday party memories? What do you think of kids asking for donations instead of gifts?