Donations as party gifts The Mommy CityMy little girl turned 5! To celebrate her big day and the fact that she can hold up all 5 fingers on one hand to show her age, we threw a party with close family and friends. Paige now understands the concepts of parties and logged a request for a mermaid party a few months back.

She is also a very lucky girl in that she doesn’t want for anything, and often receives a new toy and gift. I had her presents all ready for her birthday and so did the grannies, and knew she was going to be sufficiently spoilt on her big day.

So we decided that on her party invitations, we would ask for a charitable donation in lieu of gifts. This decision may be controversial for some, but here are my reasons for asking for a charitable donation at my child’s birthday party.

Two weeks before the party, I took the kids to our local animal welfare to meet the dogs and cats. I explained to Paige that for her birthday, we would ask her friends for pet food so we could feed the animals. It was agreed that the dogs were noisy, but the cats were really cute.

I then had to decide on the wording for the invite. As I was inviting close friends and family, I felt confident that they would be understanding of my request and were all animal lovers. Even so, it took some time before deciding on asking for “No gifts please. Donations of cat/dog food for animal welfare welcome”.

Party gifts to charityAt the party, Paige was understanding and received the donations in good spirit, but loved opening her own presents even more. She is still young, and a balance needs to be struck between learning to give and receive. She did enjoy taking the food to the shelter and seeing all the dogs and cats again. Once again, consensus between Paige and Ethan was that the dogs were still too noisy, but playing with the kittens was the best.

Staff at the animal welfare were very grateful for the donation, and their Facebook post thanking Paige had a great response. I hope to make this a birthday tradition, and encourage the children to select a charity of their choice each year. If you would like to do the same, I share some ideas and suggestions on how to make it fun for everyone.

Suggested charities and organisations:

  • Animal welfare organisations are always in need of food, bedding and toys
  • Fire departments need bottled water, energy bars and drinks, chocolates, and sunscreen
  • Child welfare organisations need clothing, bedding, toys and toiletries
  • Local creches and schools need stationery, toys, soap and toilet paper
  • Libraries and schools welcome donations of books for learning

Party tips:

  • Give your child a choice of local charities in your area to choose from.
  • Incorporate your chosen charity into the theme e.g. a Fireman party. For older children, let them build or make items which can be donated e.g. dog kennels or colourful posters for classrooms.
  • Visit the charity before and after the party, so your child can learn about where the gifts are going and how they will be used.
  • Start the tradition for all family birthdays and occasions.

How to ask for donations:

  • Make it a choice. Some guests may prefer to give a gift of toys or clothes rather than a donation. Always be gracious and appreciative of any gift received.
  • Choose a charity that your friends and family would support. Be understanding that not everyone may support the same cause and would prefer not to make a donation.
  • Don’t ask for cash. I like to bring a gift to a party, and my children like to hand over the present to their friends. It’s also rewarding to pile the donations up for everyone to see and appreciate. If guests offer a cash donation, assure them that it will be going to the charity.
  • Send a thank you message with a photo of the donations. Paige was thanked on the charity’s Facebook page and I sent the image to all her friends and family at the party so they could see that their gifts were donated.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions on asking for donations instead of gifts at parties.


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