You may have seen in the minimalist worlds and parenting blogs this new concept of a fiver birthday party.
The idea is you ask parents to bring a five dollar bill, instead of a gift, as the child’s birthday present, hence the term “fiver” birthday party.
You are to get your kid all excited to buy something big with the money they receive, rather than receive possible unwanted gifts or more clutter. The concept is also taunted as easier on the giving parents, as it is a much more affordable gift, and it is way easy.
We live in a pretty rural mountain town. The closest Wal-Mart or Target is at least 45 minutes away, and the UPS lady is our friend. (Seriously, I am overjoyed when I see her coming down our driveway with my 2-day awaited products!)
The “fiver” birthday party idea seemed like the rural birthday partygoers’ dream idea!
Now, I am sure the epic fiver birthday party fail had to do with my execution, but here is what happened:
I find myself well-versed in telling people about our simple living lifestyle. I have spoken to many a family member about not sending as many gifts, and it is a conversation I have become very comfortable with over the years.
Side note: I HATE giving gift cards. I despise them. I want to give a gift with thought. I will give a Groupon, or something similar, for a well thought out experience, but that is as far as my gift card giving ways take me.
I saw me asking for “five dollar bills” for my daughter’s birthday like asking for a gift card or payment for entry to the party. Enter my first problem.
Here are my epic fails with the “fiver” birthday party:
I – I had poor execution of the fiver birthday party concept.
I had no idea how to word an invitation to a fiver birthday party.
I experimented on an email invite with parent friends. It was weird.
My wording for the fiver birthday party was as follows:
“We are hosting my daughter’s 6th birthday party on Saturday. She would love to have your daughter join us in the celebration. We will be providing lunch. (No gifts necessary. If you insist, then we thought of doing a “fiver” birthday party where the gift is just a $5 bill. It’s the new hot thing in Australia and saves time and money for the parents!)”
It felt like I was saying, “hey, bring my kid money” rather than “hey, this is a cool new idea that might save you money and allow my kid to buy just one big gift instead of junk”. OK, even that sounds bad.
There are suggestions on how to word the fiver party invite if you still want to try it, but please, check out my other reasons for a failed fiver birthday party, so you are fully prepared.
Related post: Minimalist gifts for everyone on your list.
2 – I broke a child’s heart.
So, after the very uncomfortable email to friends and their daughters, we sent regular invites out to the class.
When parents asked me via text what they could bring as a gift, my response was something like, “No gifts are necessary. We are happy to celebrate. However, if you want to bring a gift, she is into X, Y, and Z. She is also saving money to buy up a larger Barbie set, so if easier, $5 towards that would be loved and no other gifts needed.”
At the party, one child brought a card with $10, honoring the “fiver” birthday party concept. The other kids, they brought presents, beautifully wrapped, fun looking presents.
The child who brought the card and money looked up at me and said while staring at the gifts table, “Ms. Brooke, I didn’t bring a present as you asked. We brought a card with money.”
I hugged her and assured her my daughter would be over the moon with her gift and whispered in her ear what she was saving up for. It brought a smile to the girl’s face, but I could tell she would rather have contributed a gift.
3 – Toys are a child’s love language
Maybe a “fiver” birthday party works great with older kids.
With young children (this was a birthday party for my six-year-old), toys are their love language. That’s how they share their joy with each other. That’s why they want to buy cheap plastic junk and then give it to a friend. It is something they understand.
My daughter was prepped for a “fiver” birthday party. She was excited to get money to put towards her “big toy”. However, once the party started, she was excited about the toys in front of her.
Those kids squeezed in as tight as possible around the table where the gifts were set. Even though they were not the ones receiving the toys, they were equally excited to GIVE the toys. These were toys they picked out. These were toys they were excited to share with their friends, and I was trying to rob them of that to make it easier on myself and their parents.
Related post: Teaching Minimalism to Children (9 Helpful Tips)
My lessons learned for minimalism:
Let your kids receive gifts on their birthdays or other holidays from their friends, and allow them to do it with an open heart and without fear of clutter. Let other kids introduce your child to toys you will likely never buy your child, like a LOL spy doll. (Side note, we needed the internet to help us figure out how to open the LOL spy doll set.) Allow your child to remember the joys of opening presents on their birthday.
You may cringe at the clutter, but your heart will be warm with joy watching their eyes light up with excitement. The biggest lesson I learned from our fiver birthday party epic fail was to let kids be kids, giving and receiving with open hearts.