II Chronicles 7:14

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The birthday present burden...

Okay, so you all know by now that we are doing the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace thing and while it has YET to bring us any peace...we are sticking with it because going back into debt is NOT an option and I absolutely KNOW that our PEACE is on it's way! There are two "D" words that are NOT to be spoken in my house EVER: Divorce & Debt. Neither are an option.
Anyway, in light of our new budget and very restricted spending I have come to realize what a burden buying everyone I've ever met a birthday present is (financially).
ONLY financially is it a burden. I loooove to shop and I looooove to give people gifts. As a matter of fact, those are probably two of my most favorite things to do..which is probably why this whole subject weighs so heavily on me. I cannot afford to buy all these gifts anymore...or at least right now. So what do I do? At this present moment, my children have 4 birthday party invitations taped to our refrigerator door, all of which I would LOVE to let them go to. Since they don't have neighbor kids to play with, it is a very special treat to get to attend birthday parties of their friends. But...I just cannot afford to purchase 4 birthday gifts for these other children right now. It's nearly impossible to buy a gift for less than $10...so we're talking about at least $40 that I just don't have in my budget.
And...since Grant's birthday was last week I feel like a total hypocrite right now. As a matter of fact, 3 of these kids who we have invitations for were AT Grant's party and brought him VERY nice gifts. (probably more like in the $20 range!!). There is NO WAY ON EARTH that I am sending him to their parties empty-handed OR with some cheap dollar-store toy. But what DO I do? I don't have the time or energy to come up with something creative (such as a home-made gift) and I can't re-gift something we already have because...well...because the only things I have to re-gift were things that he got at his party (that these kids saw). Wow..that is sad and I can't believe I just admitted that. But really, he got a game from one little boy that we already have so I stuck it in the gift-closet to be given to someone else. Is that bad?
So, I'm literally dumb-founded about this. One of these parties is Friday, two are Saturday and one is next week. If any of you have any suggestions, I am ALL ears.

Another side note: Wouldn't it be nice if parties could just be about having fun and we could stop this whole gift-giving/goodie-bag phenomenon? I mean...sure...getting presents is FUN and we all love to have new things...but really...I do NOT have any more room for any more STUFF in this house anyway. But, I know it would just CRUSH my kids if I told them that their friends weren't allowed to bring them gifts.
Furthermore...what is the deal with goodie bags these days? When planning for Grant's party last week I felt a lot of pressure to have awesome goodie bags filled with all sorts of toys, bubbles, candy, etc. Luckily, I had found some movie-theatre boxes of gummies for a quarter a piece and some bubbles on clearance...so that is what I put in the bags...but I have gone so far as to spend $30 JUST on goodie bags before...and it wasn't anything super fancy. Does that seem a little excessive to anyone else besides me?

One time we were invited to a party for a little girl and her parents wrote on the invitation that everyone could bring a small dog toy or bag of treats in lieu of a gift and then they would donate it all to an animal shelter after the party. That sounded awesome to me until I got there and saw the little girl and her disappointment in not getting any gifts. I think she was turning 6 and as we all walked in with our rawhide bones and squeaky toys it was almost as if her eyebrows lifted and then dropped when she saw what was in our hands. I had a good feeling that the no-gift thing had NOT been her idea. I understand that her parents may have taught her a great lesson in the value of giving...but still, I'm a momma and I couldn't help but want to grab her up and run to the store and buy HER a present!

Oh well...anyway...if you have any thoughts on this....please share!


*Ashley Lou* said...

Hey, I would LOVE to help you with the gift giving =) I am the queen of sewing pillows and making blankets...both of which are always well received because they are thoughtful (I use fabrics and embellishments that I KNOW the person will love) and they are usually under $10 (the only exception being if you choose a specialty fabric that's NOT on sale for a blanket--i.e.I made W a kitty-cat blanket that cost more like $20 haha...but I really REALLY needed kitty-cat fabric that year =))

Plus I make home-made sugar scrubs and stuff like that too, which are REALLY inexpensive....maybe we could have a gift-making/ creative ideas party sometime, maybe that would ease your concerns...it's really all about the heart and you DEFINITELY have that!!

Teresa said...

Seriously my comment was too big...blogger said so...so I e-mailed it to you instead. :)

SugarberrySensations said...

Jen, I don't have any ideas at this point for you - because - I feel EXACTLY the same way as you do! This is something I really, really, really struggle with!
Do you know I didn't send out or give a single graduation gift until my daughter opened all of hers, now I will start sending them. I didn't want to look like a cheapskate, I wanted to give as much as she received. How dumb is that?

Gosh, I hope you get some good responses! Good luck dear!


KC said...

I guess I'm just cheap....We don't even do big "kid" parties. We have a small party here at home, and invite the grandparents, aunt, and uncle (plus his wife and daughter). It's a small family get together twice a year, every year, and we all have a great time together.
Since I don't invite any kids to our kids parties, I'm not obligated to send them to their parties.
Our kids don't seem to mind either. They have so much fun entertaining their grandparents and their cousins, they don't mind not having their school friends there. Plus, while they are still at an age where they actually want the whole family around, and together, why not! :)

Rene' said...

I like your honesty in this post. Yes, we all re-gift, or at least I do, and I don't think there is anything wrong with it. Either u give something u don't want or need, or already have to goodwill, OR you save yourself a shopping trip and some time and use it someday for an appropriate gift. Its like recycling :) I even heard about some people who did a gift recycling type thing(they knew they were regifting-it was required-and it was just understood that it would be nice stuff and not junk. I thought it was a good/cute idea. But it was between adults so maybe that doesn't work here. But that is an idea for a Christmas party for kids maybe-tell everyone to bring one of their OWN, slightly used, toys to exchange instead of buying new. I like the idea. Could even do that for a party u are hosting-ask everyone to bring one of their toys-that helps others not to shop, but it doesn't help your house from not getting overwhelmed with toys. When each our girls were one, we did the gifts for charity plan. I like the idea, but they were young enough not to be concerned or sad like that little girl. Plus they got gifts from us so they still had something to unwrap. To avoid your house getting overwhelmed with toys for future birthdays u could do what we did with T last year. (We said she could invite one girl over to spend the night, go bowling&dinner, and get a pedicure. The girl didn't bring a gift since it was just her, not a 'party', but they both had tons of fun). Most of these suggestions only address parties u host. Unfortunately they don't help much with the four on your calendar. So what about a white t-shirt and some paint. Grant could decorate a personalized t-shirt for his friend (and u could add some nice writing if needed).

Rene' said...

I'd be interested in hearing what teresa said, forward to me the email if u can.

Rene' said...

I didn't want to run out of room-so I'm breaking this up :)
I totally don't think its rude to regift the game u mentioned. In fact I think its pretty great that Grant handled it well---I didn't even notice when he opened his gifts any disappointment that he already had it. good job Grant!

*Ashley Lou* said...

Also, to keep your house from getting cluttered you could do the one-for-one plan...one gift given TO you= one toy given away. They can decide ahead of time a few of them and then see where the count is afterwards. This helps them to realize the importance of helping other and giving to those who aren't as fortunate PLUS it keeps you from having a mucho cluttered home!

Rene' said...

goody bags: I personally like to do them, so I still do. BUT I've noticed when I hand them out lately that the kids are surprised (like they aren't expecting them anymore-although they did when they were 3yrs old), so I don't think the kids would notice at all that u didn't do that. great way to save money.

ps. when MY birthday comes (aug 30th by the way), the perfect gift for me would be sitting with you in your kitchen, chatting and eating warm fresh cookies(with nuts) and drinking milk :) !!!!!!

so my point is, its not always the gift that's important. I like the friendship, and so do the kids. IF you are going to go to the parties, go super small on the gift budget. The blanket idea from Ashley is great too, kids love cuddly tie-blankets at any age.

Or,if u don't go to the parties... DON'T feel like a hypocrite even though they came to yours. You have a busy schedule and no one would fault u for not being able to attend a party. When I first got out of college and started working, I had no money, and that is the ONLY reason I didn't attend baby showers and wedding showers for my co-workers that I was invited to for the first year or so of working there. I simply didn't have the money, so I wasn't going to buy a present I couldn't afford, so I didn't go. The good thing though, is that I never put myself in debt. Sure I missed a few parties, but I wasn't irresponsible and that helped me grow into a mature, financially-responsible adult. Sometimes the choices we make now are hard in the short term, but they are important for our future.
Good luck, I'm sure it'll work out :)