A new(ish) trend is emerging in the kids' birthday party realm — "fiver" parties — and I've got to say, I'm on board.
Every year, I attend the birthday parties of the kids I used to nanny. They're getting older now, and I truly think the stuff and toys are just getting bigger and more expensive as time goes on. I have sat there year after year as they rip open their gifts, either exclaiming "I have this already!" or "I don't want this" or "Yay! I hoped for this," and it's of no fault to them that it gets to be just so damn much — it's their birthday, and they want to open the things they've been presented with. And if you're inviting 15 kids to the party and each of them is coming with a gift, of course things are bound to get a little out of hand — not only that, but each gift opened tends to get less and less special.
This is where the fiver party swoops in to create a more meaningful experience. On the invitation for a fiver party the parent can explain that gifts aren't expected, but should you want to bring something with you (because it can feel awkward to show up empty-handed), a $5 gift card or cash can be gifted to go toward something the child is saving for, or even an experience, like a museum pass or day at the movies. This shifts the birthday party to being more about celebrating with friends and family, rather than a day focused on what gifts they'll get to rip open.
"It was so wonderful and is creating many more memories than a toy could."
Today spoke with Sarah Schultz, a mom of three who threw her son a fiver party. "Birthday parties can be so expensive — spending $20 on a gift . . . really limits the amount of birthday parties I let our kids attend," she said, adding that her son combined his Christmas and birthday money to save up for a pet hedgehog. "Braden was very happy with his fiver party and it was a wonderful lesson to teach him about saving money instead of spending money as soon as you get it." Another mother, Rachel Horan, threw a fiver party for her daughter and put the focus of the $5 gifts on getting Michaela a zoo pass for the year, which was a success. "It was so wonderful and [the zoo pass] is creating many more memories than a toy could," she said. "So many parents said they wish they had thought of it with their own kids but were never sure how to word it."
Author Amy McCready, the founder of Positive Parenting Solutions, was skeptical about the concept at first, but shared some of the things she now considers benefits of a fiver party.
With fiver parties, parents and close relatives can still give the child a few gifts, and friends can help contribute to a larger coveted item or experience. To those people [who disagree], I share my insight of being able to have more friends attend, keep the party an affordable event for those kids, and keep those useless gifts that get pushed aside away. I also don't think it's any more tacky than saying your child has a wish list for their birthday and to buy certain gifts for them.
However, Amy thinks that the party idea should be approved by the birthday kid first. Because not every party they go to for their friends and classmates will be a fiver party, they might want a party in which they get a bunch of little toys and gifts from friends. If you're considering a fiver party for your child, chat with them first about the benefits of being able to save up for one or two things they really want, or an experience, and let them approve the idea. If they do, it sounds like you'll all be pleasantly surprised with how it turns out.