It’s an age-old dilemma. It’s time for a big birthday party. You’ve got food, snacks, cake, activities, little paper hats and decorations. But do you have presents? Parents are of two minds about this – whether the positives outweigh the benefits. We take an agnostic stance here at Kids Fun City – it’s great to have gifts, and it’s understandable to not have them. Here’s an argument on both sides for your consideration:
Presents are often one of the most fun parts of a birthday party – the anticipation opening the wrapping paper, the joy at seeing an unexpected gift for the first time, the experience of playing with a new toy or watching a new video or looking at a new book.
Less materialistically, many of us end up associating gifts with the givers – and that helps create meaningful connections between parents and children, brothers and sisters and friends in general. It’s not just a hat, it’s a hat given by your best friend. It’s not just a book, it’s a book given by Dad. These are meaningful life experiences! It’s an important part of growing up.
Requiring presents at a birthday party makes it an entrance fee for people to come – a way of paying for friendship. That’s not exactly the message you want to send! It becomes an obligation for people, and gifts given out of obligation aren’t meaningful gifts – they’re $20 toys that will be ignored soon enough, anyway.
In addition, some kids get a serious case of the “gimmies”, ripping through presents and just wanting more, more, more more rather than actually appreciating each one. There’s such a thing as too many gifts, especially for young children with a lot of family close by. By limiting the number of gifts, you make each one all the more special.