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The Fiver Birthday Party

February is coming to a close and so is the end of  “birthday season” at our house.  Three of the five birthdays in our family happen in the first two months of the year. Usually right after Christmas, we start getting messages from family and friends asking for birthday gift ideas.

I find it challenging to give a good answer to people who want to show love to our children, as I look at the many new Christmas gifts that have yet to be put away, many of which haven’t even been opened or played with.  I’m aware of how fortunate and blessed we are and have been inspired through others and the message taught at the Meeting House to try to live more simply so that we can give generously. 

We have also been trying to look for opportunities we can teach our children how they can show compassion to others in ways they can understand.  This got me thinking about how we could put the generosity of our friends and family towards a worthy cause, rather than more gifts and toys our kids don’t “need.”

Last year, we decided to throw our two oldest children a “fiver” party.  Typically at “fiver” parties, guests can bring $5 in lieu of a gift to contribute to a larger item that the birthday kid chooses. We took a different spin on things and explained to our kids that if our family and friends wanted to bring $5 to their party, we would combine all that money and give it to their World Vision friends Rashid and Agness who live in Malawi, so they could share part of their birthday celebrations with them. 

We sent out invites explaining what a fiver party was, and to whom the money would be going to help. Our family and friends loved this idea and we were so touched by how many people broke the $5 rule and gave so much more. 

This idea worked well for our family for so many reasons: We didn’t get overwhelmed with another bunch of gifts for the kids right after Christmas; it kept things simple and stress-free for our friends and family; we got a lot of handmade cards (which we loved); we had an opportunity to share with others about our friends in Africa who are important to our family; we were able focus on celebrating a milestone and spending time with loved ones rather than on receiving gifts. Most importantly, we got to teach our kids how they can give generously and show compassion to others.

Anna is a children’s ministry volunteer, pharmacist, wife, mom and child of God.

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