How I Got My Son to Give Up Gifts…and LIKE IT!

It seems like a good problem to have: too many birthday presents. As a mom of 3 boys, I have come to dread the “Birthday Gift Overload.” You know…piles of Lego sets, Nerf guns, and various plastic items that may see 5 minutes of daylight before disappearing into the toy abyss that is my home.

Do you suffer from this, too? I have a solution! Give it up! Give back. But it may take some work. The payoff, though, I promise you, is HUGE.

Let me explain:

My oldest son turned 9 this year. Since he was 5, I have been asking him if he’d be interested in having his friends donate things–food, clothes, etc–rather than give him presents. He wasn’t ready to hear that at 5. I recall devastation, tears. He was a little young to understand what I was trying to do.

Every year since, I have done the same (the reactions became less dramatic), but he was still not ready to give up his gifts. This year was different. He thought about. And thought about it. He said to me, “How about we give everyone a choice…donate or a present.” I thought that was a great idea! We then talked about what organization he’d like to help. I gave some suggestions. One included the Humane Society (our 2 cats were adopted through the Humane Society. My dog was also a rescue). He LOVED it. I loved it, too. He was actually excited!

After his birthday, we drove together to the Humane Society, trunk FULL of donations from his friends. When we pulled up and showed the workers there how much we had to donate, they were so happy! You had to see Michael’s face, too. He was beaming with pride. They offered Michael a tour of the shelter and showed us all they did there. Michael couldn’t get enough. We left there with volunteer paperwork in our hand. I was hoping he’d make the connection between what he gave up and what he ultimately got. And boy! Did he ever! It was moment for me, where I felt like a ‘real’ parent! haha! It was awesome.

Micheal's donations to the Humane Society

Micheal’s donations to the Humane Society. Here’s a link to their page if you are interested in learning more: http://www.humanesociety.org/

I have since heard from a few moms about how Michael’s gift idea started conversations in their homes about giving, even animal welfare. THAT, right there, made it even more awesome!

Have you come across ways to reduce “Birthday Gift Overload?” Do you have a ‘greener’ way to give kids’ parties? I’d love to hear about them!

 

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