Kids' Birthdays Turned Charitable: How to Teach Generosity
To avoid Veruca Salt syndrome (“I want it noooooow!”), think about adding a charitable element to your rugrat’s big blowout. Here’s some inspiration:
1. Try ShareYourWish.com
Log on to ShareYourWish.com to create a birthday event page for your kid, and designate a percentage of guests’ monetary gifts to charities of your child’s choice (up to three!). The rest of the cash goes to a “Gift Fund” for a present that the birthday boy or girl really wants. Getting your kid involved in selecting the charities (like Doctors Without Borders and the Make-A-Wish Foundation) will especially help him think about others’ needs and the people he’d like to help.
2. Revamp the party favors
Hand out “giving cards” as party favors, instead of bags of plastic trinkets. Print cards from a legit website like JustGive.org, and let guests “redeem” the dollar amount ($10 minimum) online for a charity of their choice. Awesome options include the World Wildlife Fund and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
3. Recycle great kids’ clothes (or donate new stuff)
Along with the usual present for your child, have each kid guest bring a clean, mint-condition item of their own clothing they’d like to donate to Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or a local charity of your choice. Or, instead of gifts, have each munchkin purchase a brand-new child’s size matching hat and gloves to donate to a local shelter or other charity. Tote your child along with you when you drop the items off to show him where they go to be doled out to the needy.
4. Give toys for a good cause
New York-area residents can contribute brand-new toys, clothes, and toiletries to Toys of Hope, which helps needy children, families, and pets in New York -- many of whom have been affected by Hurricane Sandy. That's what Bethenny is doing with the toys Bryn is gifted for her 3rd birthday this May. Call 631-271-TOYS to set up a donation. (You can also send cash to the org online.)
If your tyke is an autumn/winter baby whose birthday falls in October, November, or December, tell guests to bring new toys for Toys for Tots, either in lieu of or in addition to their present for your kid. Setting a dollar maximum for both gifts can prevent overspending. Then, haul the loot Santa-style to a Toys for Tots drop-off. Find one near you at ToysForTots.org.
5. Throw an earth-friendly bash outdoors
Go green! Have the kiddie shindig at your local nature center -- many centers offer party spaces and fun, educational activities with an eco-friendly theme (at some organizations, kids can interact with small animals like turtles and lizards up close!). Spending time in the wild will instill a sense of respect for planet Earth in all the little guests.