Gifts About Giving: 50/50 Birthday Parties

Image source: Buzz Bishop
Image source: Buzz Bishop

Your kids will get invited to about half a dozen birthday parties a year. Maybe more.

Classmates, teammates, cousins, what have you. Some you’ll know well, some you’ll just know because you recognize the name from the class list.

It’s those parties that can be troublesome. You don’t really “know” the birthday child, they’re just the “best friend of the week” of your son or daughter. But birthday parties are a big deal to your kids, and so you go.

But what do you get the birthday child? Something generic, probably. It’s something for the sake of giving something.

We need to stop this something for the sake of something.

A few birthday invites went viral this spring from parents trying to put an end to the random crap that just ends up in a re-gifting pile, or the trash.

Some go so far as to fire up a registry for their kid. Others boldly request “include a receipt because we’re likely returning it.”

While some chastised the parents for being diva and demanding, others nodded along admitting “by the time your child reaches her first birthday, you are swimming in crap you don’t need.”


The birthday shouldn’t be about the stuff. It should be about the celebration.

So why not turn the birthday present model on its ear and instead do some crowd-funding for good. There’s a really simple way to do good for the birthday child, good for the community: hold a 50/50 party.

Here’s how it works:

My youngest received a birthday party invite this winter requesting no presents. Instead, kids were asked to bring some money ($5 – $10 each) and the birthday boy used 1/2 to buy himself one LEGO toy as his gift from his friends, and then he used the other 1/2 to donate to a local shelter.

Think about it. A dozen kids at $5-$10 each is $60-$100. That’s an awesome $30 LEGO kit for the birthday kid and a nice bit of cash going to people who could really use it.

Genius, isn’t it? The kid gets ONE thing they really want, they get a crazy cake and ice cream day with their friends, AND they get to learn charity by helping out the community.

Can we please all agree to do this forever?

Kids don’t need 14 presents from 14 kids at their birthday. Parents don’t need to scramble around buying something for a kid they don’t know. This 50/50 birthday party idea solves everything at once. It tames the birthday party present buying nightmare for parents, and tones down the entitled generation we’re likely raising.

Sold on the idea, we convinced our oldest to have a 50/50 Birthday Party last month. He jumped completely on board. He really wanted a LEGO Jurassic World set, and he loves a Birds of Prey Rescue Centre that we go to visit. He loves animals and is so thrilled to give back to a place that nurses injured birds and releases them to the wild.

Here’s the wording I used in the invites I sent out. Feel free to cut/paste it into your invitations and get the 50/50 party movement rolling so we can dial back on the gift registries.

Please note that gifts are not required. If you would like to give one, we are asking for a small cash gift instead.

Zacharie is proud to have a 50/50 party to raise money for his favorite charity, The Birds of Prey Centre. Zacharie will use half of the money collected to buy a small LEGO kit for himself and then donate the rest to the rescue centre.

When the guests arrived, they each had envelopes instead of bags or boxes (hey, we’re saving on wrapping paper too!). When we got home after our fun birthday party day, we discovered some friends gave $10, others gave $20 and, in the end, Zacharie had collected $120. $60 to buy a huge LEGO Jurassic World set that far surpassed any of the random gifts his friends would have tossed his way, and $60 to drop in the big eagle at the Birds of Prey Centre.

The parents got off easy trying to buy a random gift. My son got a LEGO set he really wanted. The rescue center got some funding to nurse some eagles, owls, falcons, and hawks back to health.

Win. Win. Win.

Article Posted 3 months Ago
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