Hacking Birthday Presents

It was MC’s birthday yesterday. Hard to believe it’s already been three years. We’d asked her what she wanted to do on her special day, and it changed depending on when we asked her. But some things remained the same: she wanted a table cloth, a cake with fruit on it, and presents.

Easy peasy.

Denisa is our resident cake-making and decorating specialist, and she whipped up a chocolate wonder with strawberries, mangos, and kiwis. We still had a birthday tablecloth from one of the other kid’s parties, so that was brought out. All that was left was the presents.

Presents are more problematic for me, typically. A big part of me wanted to give her something new and exciting. Something she hasn’t seen before. But another part of me realized that whatever we gave her, she’d be happy. She just wanted to unwrap cool new things. And if there’s one thing that we already have plenty of, it’s kid toys.

However, I also realized that we decluttered kids toys about two or three years ago, putting a slew of them into some bins in the basement for ultimate donation later on. These were toys MC had never even caught whiff of. They’d be totally new to her.

So Denisa and I took a trip to the basement and went through what we had. Honestly, we could have given the girl a veritable toy store worth of presents, but we ended up settling on a few “best of” selections. She opened them, and she was (as predicted) overjoyed.

How do I feel about this? A little guilty, to be honest. I remember when TRC was turning 3. You want to get him all sorts of things. It was still the same with DC. But as time goes by and you see those new presents turn into old presents. and then you’re giving those old presents away and no one wants them . . . You start thinking maybe there’s a better way of spending your money, especially on kids who aren’t even going to remember those presents five or ten years later.

Though I still feel heartless.

It helps that Denisa’s been teaching a class on Zero Waste this semester. When you look at it all as STUFF, then it’s easier to divorce yourself from wanting more of it all the time.

Anyway. If you have a fair number of kids (or are planning to), and have then spaced out apart a bit, then I can certainly recommend this approach to others. Just box up the toys when they get tired of them, and then unbox them for the next child in the form of presents.

You’ll be their hero.

Do DC and TRC mind? Actually, no. They were really happy to see MC be so surprised and play with their old toys. So I think it was a good experiment, all the way around.

And that’s all I have to report this Monday.

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