Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Attachment Parenting: Birthday Parties & Instilling Gratitude

Well, I survived my daughter's 5th birthday party (see last post!).  We all had a great time with only a few minor glitches.  But there were some great memories being made and I know my daughter will remember her 5th birthday with many fond memories.

When I sent out the online invitations, I wanted to stress that gifts were optional. I knew of course that some would want to bring a gift anyhow, but I didn't want to make that a requirement for coming over to play and having fun.

Since I wanted that to be clear, I had also decided that we were going to skip opening any presents during the party.  That was one of the best decisions I think I made for the party for a number of reasons.  First of all (and most importantly), I didn't want anyone to feel badly about not bringing a gift, while my daughter ecstatically opened gifts from other friends.  Secondly, it is REALLY hard to watch someone open a ton of gifts when you arein the 2-5 years old range.  (Yes, she received a lot of gifts, despite my message.)  Thirdly, I didn't want Rita Clare to just rip through her gifts in a craze without really noticing who gave her what, and to also really enjoy or savor each gift.  As a parent, that is really not pleasant to witness in my own child. Finally, I didn't want that to be the focus of the party nor my daughter's primary focus.  

After the party was over, I was faced with another decision.  Do I let her open all her gifts at once or just a few at a time.  My husband just wanted her to get it over at once (especially since my 2 year old had to watch her open all these gifts).  But after opening a few, I realized that I wanted her to try to slow down for her own benefit.  We stopped and actually opened the packaging of the gifts and played with them for awhile together.  Perhaps I'm being too strict or holding back more of the thrill of tearing open gifts.

After the novelty wore out, she was ready for more.  I decided that this was an opportunity for her to learn a kesson in gratitude and patience, so I suggested that we make some "Thank You" cards before we opened more.  At first she wasn't thrilled.  But then once I told her that I would help her and that she was able to use her new markers, crayons, and stickers to decorate them, she was happily on board.

It was a great moment for us while we made these cards together.  I listed off some of the people whose gifts she'd opened and let her pick the card recipient.  She picked out the paper color while I described the gift that this particular person gave her.  In her card, she thought about the gift and that person and then drew them a picture on the front and inside. I wrote Thank You and a little note, while she signed her cute little 5 year old name on the back.  Once it was completed, I put them in an envelope and helped her mail them off.

I personally thought she gained more insight in receiving gifts and the thoughtfulness of each person who came to her birthday to bring her a present.  Funny enough, she still has some gifts sitting on the table waiting to be opened.  She's been able to draw out more of her birthday experience this way, and I have been personally proud of her enthusiasm and willingness to show gratitude to her friends and family.


Jen Starks, Owner 


alexis said...

Very interesting. Be proud that you were able to fight off "traditional" birthday practices. I would like to try the no present opening at my daughter's second birthday. With her invitations for her first, I asked for handmade or wooden gifts and plastic to help instill environmental awareness. Well this worked well for the most part but I actually received a very snide nasty message written in a book ( that was a gift to my daughter) from one aunt. Oh well next year I plan to invite immediate family and friends...not extended family.

alexis said...

***no plastic***

jenniferbrooke said...

We always have a "no gifts" policy for our children's birthday parties, though people sometimes still bring something. This year, for my daughter's 7th we tried something new since she had all of the kids form her class coming. She has a real heart for the poor, so we had a jar at the party and asked guests to bring change to fill the jar, which would then be used towards a well in Africa. She made homemade invitations out of blue construction paper cut in the shape of a water droplet, and we made a pinata shaped like a water droplet (super easy shape with a balloon, and we used her old worksheets from school to plaster it). She only got one small present, and raised well beyond her goal, and nobody missed out on present opening. :)

Anonymous said...

Jennifer-I love that! Thank you for sharing your daughter's experience. :)

Becca@Catering Melbourne said...

This is a really cool idea. We have used plants as the “activity” part of the party. We had the kids plant seeds in a little paper cup that they could take home as their “treat”.