I’m planning a birthday party for our oldest boy. He’s turning four! This party will be his first with a guest list that includes more friends than cousins and it will be his fourth birthday party receiving gifts. I thought about hosting a fiver party. A party where his guests give him $5. He then gathers the money together and shops for the gift he really wants. We’re not going to jump on that wagon right now, and we won’t for a few more years. There are just too many amazing life lessons to learn from gift giving at little kid’s birthday party that get missed when handing over cash.
5 reasons why my little guy is not having a Fiver Party.
Gift giving takes effort and a bit of outside awareness. There’s an art to giving. The giver needs to think about their friend. They need to think about what their friend likes or dislikes. Think about what they have already or might want to have. There’s also the thought about their friend and giving something he or she would seldom buy, but will really enjoy getting. Giving is a learned experience, and learning how to give needs to start at a young age. A birthday party is the perfect practice point.
Understanding the value of receiving goes far beyond a gift wrapped in a rainbow of colors and tied with swirly ribbon. Receiving is equal parts humbleness and expressed thankfulness. In the context of a four-year old’s birthday party, there will be gifts my son may not like. However, he’s going to learn how to receive that gift with a grateful heart. He’ll learn how to say, “Thank you for thinking of me!” or “Wow, this is awesome!” or “I didn’t even know about this toy. Thanks for the gift!” These are all postures we need to take into adolescence then into adult life. I view a kid’s birthday party as a fun training ground for receiving.
Picking out a gift then wrapping it creates a tangible connection to the invitations for a birthday party. Usually there’s a simple excitement as you imagine how the receiver will feel upon opening your gift. anticipation can be a moment by moment feeling, or it can be a feeling that’s really hard to grasp. Either way, anticipation is all wrapped up in the act of giving and receiving. She can anticipate shopping for the gift, helping to wrap the gift, and then giving the gift at the party. All those things piled on top of anticipation of the actual birthday party make for some mighty fine icing on a cake.
Opening a present and expressing thankfulness is a foundation that needs to be built. It seems like entitlement is rooted in our DNA. We need every moment we can to strengthen expressions of gratitude. Receiving a gift that is $1 or $15 deserves the same amount of grateful expression. We don’t measure effort or the value of things when teaching gratitude as such a young age. We just teach that gratitude matters. Having the opportunity to receive a gift from a friend is a practical and favorable way to squash entitlement and give room for thankfulness and gratefulness to take root.
Have you ever seen this video of moths flying around a light? That’s pretty much what a group of three and four year-old party people look like. It’s gift opening time and they swarm. A swarm of givers close in on a receiver, and all the kids have to see what’s under that happy birthday wrapping paper. Everyone needs to touch and grab the present while huddling around the birthday girl or boy with all their energy and intention. There isn’t a better situation than opening gifts to teach patience in the presence of anticipation. Then, they have to touch that gift like their life depended on it. But they can’t and they won’t. Not until the birthday girl or boy says it’s okay. There’s a huge amount of patience being practiced within the gift opening time. Add to that the burning desire to shove cake into their mouths. So much goodness in gift giving.
For these reasons we’ll welcome simple gifts that can be unwrapped, because the intangible gifts are priceless.