My husband and I have always agreed that we want our kids’ best memories to involved experiences – not physical treasures. We have practiced this by not buying lots of extra toys or gifts throughout the year, and focusing on making family memories together. This year we decided to put that value into practice with their birthdays. (After all, if it is something we value shouldn’t it be practiced consistently in every aspect of our lives?)
This year we began months before Victoria’s birthday to prepare her for a giftless birthday. We still wanted to celebrate her day and make it special for her– just without the gifts. She got to choose what she wanted for dinner and a few friends she wanted there with her family. To say the day was totally giftless would be incorrect. She got many gifts: Her dad got home from Haiti safely, her grandma (who lives far away) got to celebrate with us, she got to pick the theme for her birthday cake and the color of the decor, she even got to have home-made doughnuts for breakfast. We made many memories together with her. She also did get gifts they just weren’t toys. We asked those who would normally buy gifts to refrain from gift giving. Though we did let them know IF they wanted to give her something they could donate to a gymnastics fund for her. Gymnastics is something that will create many memories for her and be an experience that my husband and I simply could not give her on our own, and it is something that she really wants to do. To add to the focus on making memories and appreciating family and friends Victoria and I will make a special birthday scrapbook together with the cards and pictures from her friends and family who have contributed towards her gymnastics classes. This way we can tangibly remind her of how many people love her an and helped her get the privilege of taking the classes.
I am so excited about this new birthday approach. It brought even more joy to the birthday celebration this year. It also is offering many more opportunities to teach our values to our children. Now, we just have 3 more children’s birthdays to celebrate over the summer and then we will evaluate how it worked, and how we will approach Christmas this year.