A Different Kind of Birthday

Sometimes we underestimate our children.

This past weekend, we threw our son a party for his 6th birthday. We decided to try something a little different. We found out that our local Humane Society hosts birthday parties, and thought that would be a great learning opportunity and the kids would love visiting all the animals. (Not to mention the fact that I wouldn’t have to clean my house before and after the party!) Indeed, we often take the kids there just to see the different animals.

ImageTo go along with this, we asked our son if he would be willing to forgo gifts and request donations for the Humane Society instead. I thought it was a big thing to ask of a six year old. After attending countless parties where the central attraction was the mountain of gifts, we were expecting a little resistance. Didn’t happen. He didn’t even blink. He agreed immediately and started to make a list of the things the money could help with at the shelter. Granted, he still gets gifts from immediate family, and Christmas is coming up. This just cut back on the otherwise inevitable overload of gifts from friends.

He had a wonderful time! We had some lovely hosts that knew just how to work with kids. ImageThere was a tour, hands-on time with a rabbit and a kitten, a few crafts, some games, and we brought cupcakes. The hosts asked how he enjoyed the party, and he responded with an uncharacteristic “It was FANTASTIC!”

Charity gifts are (fortunately) a growing trend. This idea of a donation-only party was clearly not my own. I have read many articles discussing this concept.  Organizations are making this type of giving very easy.  For example, ECHOage is an organization that combines fundraising with the purchase of one large gift for the child.  http://echoage.com/. Many (if not Imagemost?) charities offer an “in honour of” option when making a donation, and provide a card for the recipient.

Here are some other stories:

http://www.parents.com/fun/birthdays/themes/party-for-charity/

Now, my little guy is already asking about different charities he can support next year. Hopefully we have established a new family tradition, which will just be a given from now on.

Children are sometimes irrational. They can be infuriatingly stubborn. They may not always listen to you.

But, they can be capable of wonderful things.

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5 Responses to A Different Kind of Birthday

  1. What a great post ( and what a great kid). Inspirational. Thank you.

  2. Sharon Tyler says:

    My seven year old agreed to collect donations for the local Humane Society this year too. The friends invited thought that it was fantastic, and there was no resistance from our kids. A friend collects cereal and other highly requested foods for a local food pantry every year at their kids’ parties. My five year old is trying to decide on who to collect for on her summer birthday. I love that more and more kids seem to enjoy this.

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