Charity Donations Instead of Birthday Gifts.

Updated on February 14, 2011
T.N. asks from Dallas, TX
11 answers

Hello all,
One of my kids will turn 5 soon. I am looking for a charity to ask our guests giving donations instead of birthday gifts. I think a 5 yr old kid would understand donating toys, books rather than money. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated esp in Dallas area - helping other kids...

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answers from Tulsa on

I found this idea tempting as we have too many toys. Children don't really get this until they are at least 8 and usually older. I would wait as children love giving and getting presents. My friend forced this issue and her child doesn't want to give even broken toys to charity now.
If you do, Ronald McDonald house could use some books and new toys.

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answers from Detroit on

My daughter was invited to a party and we were asked to bring in canned goods for a local shelter. This was a nice gesture, but the girl was turning 5. We did not know the family well (it was a child in my daughter's class). I felt the obligation to bring canned goods AND a gift. I sort of felt like it was unfair for this child to get no gifts for their b-day....mind you, I know most of our children NEED nothing!!! But, she was just turning 5, so I think that's a little young to say you get nothing and we are only giving.

I am 100% for charity. We buy new toys each year that my kids help pick out for Toys for Tots and other organizations. I want them to feel the joy in helping others, but I also want them to have the fun of opening a couple gifts on their special day.

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answers from San Francisco on

None of my kids have been invited to such a party. I would still send a gift for the birthday child. It would just seem rude not to. Just because you said not to bring a gift, my child would still be bringing one. It feels to me that 5 is too young to really understand this. I think there are other times than the child's birthday to teach about charity. A birthday party is really about celebrating the child's birthday.

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answers from Washington DC on

i think this can be very well incorporated into a family-based attitude of giving. you can be clear on the invitations that the gifts will be donations and the family can give the child some gifts privately. a donation party doesn't mean the kid is being denied the joy of presents, it's just changing the focus. i think it's cool.
i would let the child pick the charity. something in line with his interests. if he's a sports fan it could be sporting equipment for underprivileged kids, or horse treats for a local rescue, that sort of thing.

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answers from Chicago on

I think asking charity in lieu of gifts is highly tacky and offensive!! It is making assumptions that are not appropriate. If you want to donate the gifts your 5 year old will receives once the party is over great...let your child keep the one that's his/her favorite and donate the rest to charity, goodwill, toys for tots, hospital or daycare center all tax deductible.

I like Michelle M's post. Great idea! Also, if the guests are wanting specifics on gift ideas what does your child really need??? new pants, shoes that extra train to complete the set you have at home?

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answers from Chicago on

Not tacky at all! Great idea! I mean, you're going to bring a gift to a party anyway. I don't get what's tacky about asking for a gift to be donated.

We've been to several parties where we've brought a gift to be donated instead of a gift to the birthday kid. It's nice to be able to help the less fortunate, and I think it teaches the kids a great lesson.

For one party we brought wrapped books that went to a children's charity overseas. I can't remember the name of it. Another party we brought items for pets and the girls took them to the local county animal shelter and volunteered their time there for an hour. For another we brought a stuffed animal and it was donated to a local children's hospital.

Enjoy your party!

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answers from Topeka on

Why not have your guests bring wrapped, new gifts and then you and your child take them to the local be used as gifts for the youngsters there? Or maybe school supplies for the activity room there?
Or specifically ask for new stuffed animals and then you and your child take them to the police department...most police officers carry a couple of stuffed animals in their car to be used for young children who are being taken away from their parents or are traumatized by something that has occured.
Whatever you do...involve your child in the delivery of the that he can see where the gifts are going to be used. And congratulations on teaching your children a very valuable lesson in being generous and thoughtful towards others who are less fortunate.

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answers from Stockton on

I agree with others regarding waiting until your little one is a bit older and able to truly understand. Until then, just have a quiet family party w/o gifts. 5 is really young to expect altruism.

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answers from Dallas on

I think that this is a great idea. We tried this at my daughter's 4th birthday (our organization of choice was We only received ONE donation. I don't think it is tacky at ALL. Is Toys For Tots a year round donation, or only for holidays? You can also check out the Shriner's in Garland. They had a holiday drive in December, but what happens the other 11 months of the year?
Good for you - 5 years old is NOT too young to understand giving to others. My 4 year old will find something now that she doesn't play with and understands that other children might need it more than her.

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answers from Detroit on

I think it is a great idea. Haven't done a charity in lieu of gift party but have done a no gift party. It is not that the child does not get anything. She gets to celebrate with her friends and most likely got a special gift from mom and dad (like ours did -she was 3 at that time). Now my 6 year old is requesting a no gift party for her 7th.

I have girlfriends who have girls that we all are pretty close and every Christmas, instead of exchanging gifts, we get together to do something fun. This year we had a shoebox frolic that we donated to the local shelter through my dd's school. The girls who were 3-6 year olds had a blast putting the boxes together.

You can fashion it's contents towards children in the shelter

Each child can bring a shoe box
Suggested contents:
*toothbrush and toothpaste (my dd asked he dentist for these and came home with 1 doz toothbrushes and 72 tubes of toothpaste to donate)
*shampoo- travel size (TS)
*lotion -TS
*body wash -TS
*lip balm
*pocket tissue
*activity book
*arts and crafts
*small toys

It's nice because the kids become aware of gifting and the shelter kids on turn experiences ownership. Even if it is just a shoebox, it can mean a lot.

Kuddos to you for doing this

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answers from Seattle on

My son got invited to a party like that last year and everyone brought gifts and then they took the gifts with the birthday child and anyone else that wanted to go and donated them to a homeless shelter that specialized in mothers with kids. While I certainly understand how nice that was I couldn't help but feel really bad for the birthday boy. Can you imagine seeing all these cool toys and knowing none of them are for you?
No, 5 isn't too young...but part of having a birthday and a party is getting some gifts too.