Real-life money lessons

Results of the No Present Party Experiment

J’s 9th birthday party was last weekend! If you remember, we asked for no presents, phrasing it like this: “Please, please no gifts for the birthday boy.” And if guests wanted to, they could bring something to donate to our local animal shelter. We said: “J would like to make a donation to [Specific Shelter] for his birthday. If you would like to donate with us, please consider something small from their needs list: [link].

I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out. J mentioned that some kids said they were still going to bring him a present (in addition to a donation), even though he told them not to. I even heard one mom make a comment to another – that her husband said, “Are they trying to make us feel bad? Are we supposed to do this now?”

A few parents texted before the party with questions, and I reiterated what the invitation said and how we wanted to focus on giving.

J and I had a few talks before the actual party as well – that the party was the present and getting to spend time with his friends. (Just to try to avoid a potential upset kid when he realized there were no presents for him.)

But all in all, it DID seem to work!

Almost everyone brought something (I suspected that people wouldn’t want to come empty-handed) but it was for the shelter! Only two guests also got J a present (and brought a donation too).

We collected six bags of donations AND $75 in cash.

I told J I would also match any money that he donated personally. He took $20 from his giving money, and I matched $20, for a grand total of $115!

We called the shelter and arranged a time to drop off the donations. During our trip, we visited with all of the animals, which was his favorite part. We also talked about why we couldn’t adopt an animal at this time (I totally knew that was coming).

I’d love to report that he was excited and proud to do such a nice thing for his birthday, but overall he seemed a little indifferent about the whole thing. Talking to him about it after the fact, he said he mostly just liked visiting with the animals.

So, success? I’m not sure. Maybe he’ll remember this birthday when he’s older and have more of an opinion then. If anything, I’m glad he did something nice and that we tried something different.

Have you ever tried anything like this? What were your reasons and did it work out?

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