Lupine turns five in just a few days. Which means she wants a party, with three of her closest girl-friends ("Just the friends who like to dress up really, really fancy, like me." It's a very short list.) I took a bold step this year, penning on the three party invitations: "Lupine requests a small friend-made gift or simple craft supplies (glitter, ribbon, etc.)." What will the parents think? I was a little nervous but felt it was a good way to approach her birthday celebration in a way that would meet everyone's desires.
The point of a gift is to bring joy, but a year later if the gift is relegated to the back of the closet, the local thrift-store, or the landfill, why bother? So I found my courage and asked for something specific. And it was well received, by parents from all walks of life. No one raised an eyebrow, at least not openly. And Lupine will get gifts she treasures, that are open-ended, and nourish her creativity. I think it's a win-win.
This weekend we attended the birthday of another five-year-old friend. As Sage, Lupine and I discussed what to make, buy, or gift from our own collections Lupine said, "But mama, does he really need any toys?" She was right. He didn't. So Sage decided to share a plant start from his favorite houseplant (filling a pot with soil, cutting a branch, dipping it in rooting hormone, and planting the branch) and Lupine and I made him a special placemat and napkin. Because it is special, but useful. It doesn't feel like just more stuff.
Do you need to give kids flashy toys from a big box store? I don't think so. This little guy's eyes lit up when he saw the gnome fabric (Gnomes!) and he used if for his birthday dinner. I suspect it will get plenty of use without becoming one-more-thing to pick up off the playroom floor. It was a quick and affordable gift (simple patchwork from fabric from my stash), and I would love one for each of my kids too. But I think I'll wait. I'll save it for a gift some day down the road.