Gift­less Birthdays

Cel­e­brat­ing Birthdays with Presents AND Help­ing Oth­ers

Westcoast Families - - Party Time! - By Stephanie Mac­don­ald

though birthdays lose their charm once you’ve had a few too many, ev­ery par­ent knows that to a six-year-old, his birth­day party is like a mag­i­cal won­der day with no equal. Birth­day par­ties are un­de­ni­ably one of the most happy and ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated events in child­hood, and we would never change that. How­ever, you may be like many par­ents whose kids al­ready have clos­ets and draw­ers over­flow­ing with more toys, games and stuffies than they could play with in a year, and we have found that there are some ways to up­date the birth­day party to take into ac­count the joy in re­ceiv­ing, the fun of do­ing, and in­tro­duce the plea­sure of help­ing as well. Your house will be less clut­tered, your kids will be just as happy, and you may even ef­fect some pos­i­tive change for the planet. One sim­ple way to fo­cus less on the con­sumerism as­pect of birth­day presents is to list ac­tiv­i­ties your child en­joys, and ask for passes. They get to go to the ice rink or pool, a movie, or a mem­ber­ship to their favourite mu­seum, Science World, or aquar­ium, and you don’t have to worry about an­other year of well-in­ten­tioned clut­ter. Clare Adams, founder of The Gift Pages, a gift­ing re­source launch­ing this month, is just as pas­sion­ate about think­ing dif­fer­ently about gift giv­ing, and is par­tic­u­larly fond of ex­pe­ri­ence gifts like those avail­able at Van­cou­ver­based Per­fect Day (www.per­fect­day.ca). “A month af­ter a birth­day, it can be hard to re­mem­ber who bought which toy or game, but the mem­ory of a day spent whale watch­ing or an af­ter­noon zip-lin­ing would likely be re­mem­bered for years to come”. If you’d like to fo­cus on one larger gift for your child and di­rect the rest of presents to­wards help­ing a cause, there are many ways to do this! Lo­cally, through The Sunny Bear Birth­day Club at the Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal, you can or­der a sup­ply of pre-printed do­na­tion cards and en­velopes to en­close with your in­vi­ta­tions or pro­vide to guests at your party, along with a note en­cour­ag­ing guests to do­nate in lieu of gifts. Guests should bring their do­na­tion sealed in the en­ve­lope pro­vided to the party. Then, sim­ply col­lect the en­velopes and drop them off in per­son or in the mail. Big Broth­ers of

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