Let me start by saying that I love birthdays. I turn my own into a month-long affair (much to the chagrin of my family) and am more than happy to do so with yours too.
And when it comes to celebrating my sons' birthdays, I tend to go a bit overboard. We're talking parties with their classmates and teammates, paper invitations, a cake I spend more hours designing than I like to admit, and sugar cookies I'm still decorating at 1 a.m. the night before the party. There are balloons around the breakfast table when they wake up and a family celebration with grandparents at the kids' favorite restaurants. And don't forget the classroom celebrations at school. All of this is to say that I really and truly love celebrating birthdays.
But when it comes to my kids' big days, there's one thing that I don't do: gifts for the birthday boy.
It was never my intent to not buy my children birthday gifts, but starting with their first birthdays, I just didn't see the point. They were receiving more gifts from family and friends than they could ever need and already seemed overwhelmed with all of the new things coming their way. Fast forward a few years to their elementary school parties and that mountain of gifts just grew. Add the birthday dinners and parties into the mix, and it just seemed excessive — not to mention expensive. We live in NYC where parties at home are not an option and party spaces don't come cheap. So we never ended up buying them birthday gifts — and they never questioned it.
Sure, we buy them gifts during the holidays and they certainly receive things from us throughout the year — clothes, souvenirs on trips, that special jersey they want when their favorite team wins the Super Bowl — but they don't even ask where their birthday gift is from Mom and Dad, and if they did, I'd probably tell them they're attending it with their friends — it's called their party.
I don't know if I'll ever give them a gift that they unwrap on their birthday. Even when the parties fall away, they'll be getting more experiences than physical gifts — gifts they can experience with us like ball games, Broadway shows, and the like. We're still half a year away from the next family birthday, but I don't foresee myself modifying my policy any time soon.
Until then, I plan to continue my no-gifts-from-Mom-and-Dad policy as long as I can. So far, it's served me well.