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Have you heard of a "Fiver" birthday party for kids? I hadn't until several months ago when I saw something going around Facebook about it.
Here's the concept:
Instead of bringing presents to a birthday party, each guest brings a card with a $5 bill inside. The idea is to cut down on the excessive gift giving and enable the child to save up and/or buy one larger item they've been wanting.
We recently tried the idea for my 7-turning-8 year old's birthday party, and it was a big success!
First, make sure this is the right idea for your child. My son is really just not interested in toys. He has the video games he wants. We have other games and activities out the wazoo. Even walking through a toy store together the other day, the only thing he wanted was one magic wand. When I suggested the idea of the fiver party, he was really excited (and immediately started adding up how much money he might get). Ok, not his finest moment, but I was still glad that he was willing to try the idea.
In contrast, my 4 year old LOVES toys. His head is going to explode at his upcoming birthday party when he receives new toys from his friends. He also actually plays with his toys, so any toys he gets = time for independent play that I cherish. So for him, we would not have a fiver party at this point.
Once you've all agreed on the fiver party, then, it's as easy as communicating out your wishes in the invitation...
It's normal to feel a little uncomfortable directing the types of gifts people should give for a party (Isn't it taboo?? Like asking for money??), but knowing now how receptive other parents were to the idea, I'm so glad I pushed through the discomfort and went with it.
I simply printed out a little extra piece of paper to tuck in with each invitation that said:
No presents please!
[Name] would like his birthday party to be a “fiver” party. The idea is that instead of a toy or present (which he couldn’t think of any “ideas” for anyway), each friend brings a $5 bill ($5 only, no more!), so he can save up for something bigger that he wishes for.
Thank you for helping keep the party focus on the friends and the fun!
Yes! I was definitely worried that parents might feel like $5 wasn't enough and throw extra money in the card (in which case I'd feel like it was just a greedy way to ask for only cash gifts) or that a few stray people might decide to give a wrapped gift anyway (thus making others that "just" gave a $5 card feel awkward).... But no one did!
It was amazing!
After the party my son spent time opening the cards (and actually reading them, since it wasn't just the tollgate to get to the present). He's now been talking about a trip to his favorite local store to make a purchase - and said he'll save the rest. It's up to him, and at 8 years old, I like that we can give him that little freedom with his own (reasonable amount) of spending money.
Well, it depends. I was torn on this myself, so I polled my followers on Instagram. I was fairly surprised that 74% of people said "Yes, still write them". Only 26% said "No, not expected/not necessary". The comments mostly said you should still thank everyone for coming and/or include a little line about what the child is saving up for / purchased. Something along the lines of:
"Thank you for coming to my party and celebrating my birthday with me! I'm excited I've saved up enough now to buy a new XYZ! See you soon, [Name]". Or, leave the mentioning of the gift out of it all together and keep the focus on the fun of the party.
If we tell our kids that they only have to write thank you notes for physical gifts, then I think we are undoing a bit of the lesson of the "fiver" party. Part of the benefit of it is teaching our kids to be thankful for their friendships and the generosity of their friends (in giving their time and money) to celebrate their birthday, regardless of the size of a gift given.
100%, if my child wanted to!