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Happy belated birthday to Max!! Maybe you should have explained that you wanted to donate to the charity and asked friends/family to bring an additional small gift that could be donated, like a toy drive. I'd like to make a donation, so once you get everything worked out, please let me know how I can.

You absolutely have the right to limit Max's new gifts (he won't know the difference, after all!). You can suggest to the family that he has plenty of things, and you'd prefer that they save their money or donate to your new favorite charity. Another idea is to donate something from his current toy box for each new item that arrives in the house. Then friends and family can buy him things, and the charity wins too!

I think it is best to receive the gifts first, and pass it on later. The nobody would feel offended!
Happy birthday! :D


You are HIS parent. Until he is old enough to really make a decision, you get to make that choice for him.

Also? It's a FANTASTIC idea. You can also let Adam and Kate get in on the action and help them choose toys "For Max's birthday, for the kids who don't have anything." It's a good lesson for the older ones, too.

This is a FANTASTIC idea. Makes you even more G&D :)

Perhaps donate something from his current toy box for each new item. That way he gets the fun of new things, the family gets the fun of giving it to him, and the charity gets toys too. After all, getting new things IS fun, both for the giver and givee; he shouldn't completely miss out on that. But planting the idea of giving to others isn't bad either.

Of course it's fine. Is he lacking any toys? No. So donate. Fabulous idea. Good luck - am sure this project of yours will be very successful.

What do you think? Brilliant Idea!

Do you think it would have been ok for me to ask people to donate to the charity instead of buying Max a gift? Yes!

Unfair to Max? Nah - not at this stage. Or half and half
Unfair to grannies/family? Not really unless they have a special heirloom they are saving for him or something specific.

Or is it ok for me to decide as his mother? For sure, at this stage.

Let me know when you have info and details and I would like to donate. Sorry Mel! Got to share!

What is the latest / update from your Gardener and Family?

I think it is a great idea. I have a friend who always tells us not to by her gifts on her birthday but donate whatever we were planning to spend to the Red Cross Hospital, which is her passion. It is such a nice thing, for both her and us.

If they still don't have a website, you should really contact me, we'll pull something up for them, if they are keen. We'll also take care of all the costs and logistics of hosting and domains etc. It really doesn't break the bank.

i absolutely agree with you about people giving gifts or money to charity. we had the 'too many things already' dilemma with amelia's 2nd birthday last year. we thought she was too young to appreciate the charity idea, so we asked people to give us photos of themselves to put in an album for her to take away with us to europe for a three month stay, so she can get to know how many people love her, and that she loves them right back.

for her 3rd, we have been thinking about having the party at a local koala sanctuary called Lone Pine, where a lot of good is done toward saving a threatened animal population - people pay admission instead of buying a gift, and the money goes to a good cause - how to introduce the idea to her is probably the difficult thing - i don't want to impose my ideas of charity on her, when she is too young to make a choice, but i think she can have a day on which she gets a lot of joy, but that also benefits something/someone outside of herself. however, there will still be cake (in the shape of a dragon i hope!) and goodies, and fun and games so she gets to celebrate. while i am hesitant at trying to shape her with a certain view of the world from my own restrictive upbringing), i am conscious that she needs to learn that she is part of an interdependent system, and that she can make a difference in the lives of people or animals while having a good and happy life herself.

Happy Birthday!

I don't think Max would notice or care if he didn't get lots of toys for his first birthday, although I'd probably want him to have a few boxes to open, more so he sees them in his album someday than for any other reason. (My kids would definitely have been all "why aren't _I_ opening presents, everyone _else_ opened presents -- but that's long after the fact.) Buying a fun toy for a baby feels the same whether it goes to a particular baby or to a charity, for me.

But if grannies really really want to buy for their own particular baby, why not just have a one in-one out policy, and after the gifts are all acquired, go around picking out gently used toys to send away? We semi have that rule now with the older kids. Though our impulses are mostly selfish; we just get too much stuff piling up otherwise.

Totally Ok. The joy of giving lasts far, far beyond the joy of getting a new toy. Buy him one fun new toy from your family. My third son has probably only received a few new things in his life and he's okay with it. He has the benefit of older siblings to play with, who needs toys?

I find charitably giving to be an extremely personal thing. In fact, I have a family member who donates to a charity of his choice every year as our Christmas present. And while I have no problem with charitable donations, if you are giving it as a present you should at least ask which charity the person you are "giving" the gift to prefers. I know that's not the issue here but it just happens to be something that really bugs me. I think in your case suggesting the charity as an option would be appropriate but also allowing people to get a gift for Max if that is what they want/prefer to do.

I think the concept is terrific. I would only question if the charity REALLY NEEDS a *ton* of toys? Might they need other types of gifts (money, clothes, food) more than a gazillion toys?

If you are going to suggest foregoing gifts to Max in favor of helping the charity, I'd highly recommend cash donations... so the charity can purchase what they need the most.

Just a thought...

At least give the kid a few gifts! You may not think it matters if things are "fair" yet, but wait till one of the twins tells him about it later on! I would simply do what Joan Crawford used to do, the child can keep one gift and the rest goes to charity. BUT...what goes for Max needs to go for the other two, also.

I think you absolutely have the right to limit the number of gifts Max receives. What many of my friends and I did for our young children was to put "no gifts please" on the birthday party invitations that were sent out to friends, so the birthday kid only gets presents from family. With parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, that's still a lot of presents!

If I were in your shoes, I'd put something on the invitation like "please consider donating to Charity X in Max's name in lieu of a gift". That way you put the choice in your guests' hands.

I like the idea of donating one used item for each new item he gets. I don't hate the idea of asking people to donate to the charity but not really sure I like it for a child's birthday until they can come to that decision on their own.

While I absolutely agree that Max doesn't need toys, I know how much my parents and in-laws love giving gifts to their grandchildren. I know that, while they would understand, they would be hurt if I asked them not to give my kids a present. So what I would do instead is to let them give a gift, but for every gift they give, I'd find an equivalent old one that I'd then give to the charity. That way they get the joy of giving to their grandchild, and seeing him play with their gift, AND the charity receives some toys as well.

Totally agree with Nixgrim and Stefanie. Maybe later he can decide on his own and people will need to respect that decision but now...
My son does not need anything either and my parents live very far away. Everytime they get a chance (meaning someone is coming our way) they send him money (they are afraid of wrong sizes and it is easier to the person who is traveling). They do not even want that money to go to a bank savings account! (that was my suggestion). They want me to BUY something on their behalf and they want to KNOW what I bought. So I know they would be hurt if I decide to give it away...
I think people may feel you are giving away "their" money (I know technically is not theirs anymore). A gift to a dear child is a gift of love. I think we should say thank you and accept it as is. We can support charities in other ways and times... That is how I see it.

My family would be very disappointed not to give a gift for a first birthday, and would probably actually ignore me. The charity could probably use money more than toys anyway. So I might suggest to people that they spend a little less than they would otherwise on Max's present, and make a small donation to the charity with the extra. It isn't about Max, he won't know the difference, it is about the gift givers.

I think you did just the right thing. Even though Max wouldn't necessarily "know" that's what you had done, I do think it's nice for him to have that experience of opening new gifts (and to continue to have that experience, no matter how many toys and hand-me-downs he already has). Then, behind the scenes, you can continue to donate his and the twins' stuff to charity. Or buy new stuff to donate to the charity. Whatever. That way, everybody wins. :-)

I would rather you gave the good old toys to the charity and allow you son a few new ones. If you receive toys he is to old for the donate that toy as well. Part of the fun of going to a baby party is to watch the little one open his first gifts.

You could have given the option but I think if people wanted to give him a gift they should be able to do so. But I totally understand where your heart is. You are always compassionate to others in need.

I think at one year old or even two, you are not being unfair to your child to ask people to donate to charity instead. And I don't think you should feel guilty that he didn't have a big birthday bash--that's more for the adults anyway. Most one year olds don't like so many people around. A small family party is fine.

I know my kids' grandmas love to buy stuff for them but I think it's OK to ask them to buy a toy or two for Max and one or two for the charity. They can decide if they want to follow that request or not.

I love this idea and would like to ask people to do it for my daughter's birthday in August. I know it's fun to buy stuff for your kids/grandkids but honestly the amount of stuff my kids get is overwhelming and totally unnecessary.

I don't think it's the right thing to do. The older kids had their chance to get gifts, let your younger one have his moment too, and let his relatives have that moment with him too. It's an interaction between them and him, you don't have to control everything. I can't believe most of the people here think it's OK. Sure, he's so young he won't know what you're doing, but you should still have principles even with those too young to know or remember what you're doing.

People may be way-over-the-top materialistic these days, but stopping your youngest child from getting his own special things from his rellies is not the way to go. Forced charitable donations always suck too, I give to charity but it always feels awful when it's an arm-twisting sort of thing, like someone had to corral you into doing it.

Interesting question. On the one hand: He's one year old! You (quite rightly) decide what he eats, what he wears, when he baths and when he goes to bed, so I think it's entirely OK for you to decide he's not too young to begin learning that there's more to life (and celebrating birthdays) than presents. My kids also have far too much stuff, and while I value the love that went into those gifts, I also think the memory of a happy day spent with good friends and family can be worth far more than a toy.

On the other hand: Some other commenters have made good points about the fact that giving is as much about the giver as the receiver, and some people may be hurt if they are denied the chance to give in the way that feels familiar and right to them.

So, I like the compromise of saying something like "If you would like to give Max a small gift it will be gratefully recieved and loved; but we would also like to show love for less fortunate children, so a donation will be equally gratefully received." Clumsily put there, but you get the idea.

I *love* ruth's idea of a photo to go into an album. That is something that will be treasured for years after the toys are broken. I might steal the idea for myself :-)

ok, as someone who is only 23 and therefore did not have their first birthday tooo long ago, I can honestly tell you that I have no recollection of my first birthday nor do I have an idea what gifts I got. When Max gets excited about his birthday, that's when you make it a big deal.

Also, as someone who volunteers at the most amazing childrens home, I can tell you that things like toys and clothes (or money) are especially welcome, and it is so heartwarming to see a child get a toy when they have so little. Max has so much love and there's no gift better than that.

K, sounding all anti-materialism etc, so going to stop. I am in agreement that every child should have the excitement of opening up a birthday present, but let's be honest- can Max even open up his own gifts/does he even know it's his birthday?

Fabulous idea. Give him a cake and a few gifts and he will be thrilled :)

I've got to agree with Mia C and Nixgrim -- is it entirely fair to Max that he becomes the "hand-me-down" kid? For the rest of his life he'll have two older siblings whose stuff is going to take up twice the space of his -- would you prohibit gifts at the 2nd birthday? 3rd birthday?

At 1, he's not going to know or care, but it may be a significant issue for his grandparents or other relatives who feel that giving "him" a gift is a chance for them to note their relationship.

p.s. just had a thought (wow, two in one day) - why don't you start a family tradition that adam and kate can get into as well, and max when he is old enough? like, getting them to think of something they can do on their birthdays that adds value to the life of someone else? maybe invite some of the kids from the charity to a birthday party where EVERYONE gets a gift? or set up a system where those birthdays get recognised individually. then THE KIDS can generate the ideas and bring the giftgivers on board, which takes you out of the loop a little. the only thing that worries me a little is that i was raised in a family where birthdays were verboten - so there is always a risk of giving the kids a guilt complex for being given stuff themselves (from my experience anyway) . . .

Just to throw another idea in the pot...I celebrate my half birthday.

On my half birthday I give rather than get. I donate to a charity. Strangly enough, I read an article last year about a lady who also does that and now that she has twins she does the same for them. Every half-birthday they get half a cake each and have to give some of their toys/outgrown clothing to a charity. Perhaps that is the best of both worlds?

Hi Tertia,
I'm side stepping the question .. but if they still don't have a website why not help them set one up ... to help them fund raise that way. With all of your web site savy this could assist them to bring in a lot more support. Just a thought. Above is a web site of a very similar organization in KZN and how they garner support. It could be much simpler than this web site though. Good for you either way!

Hey Tertia
Scallywags is a really fun indoor play centre too in the Southern Suburbs!!!
Congrats on Max's birthday!


First, having the experience with both my kids and two baby showers (we got into this habit early), people are more likely to get a gift for the occasion than to give to a charity in honor of the occasion. I understand why--operating by deadlines myself, if you have a specific event by which time you have to have gotten a gift, it is much easier to stay on top of it. And there are other reasons like the ones you described--people want to show their love in material ways (we have many family members that feel that way, including grandparents who are otherwise quite sensible about thrift--spoiling grandchildren is just their job). So instead, we have decided to 1) for every gift/toy the kids get, they have to give something away (so that we stay at zero-sum), and 2) sometimes we will put the kids in something once, take a picture as proof that they once wore it, and then give it away immediately so that kids in need get some really nice, not-really-worn clothes. Finally, 3)we compensate by buying our kids less and giving away more. Our daughter does not need me to buy her clothes and toys. She has her Nonni for that....

These are all ways of not offending anyone, still doing good for charity, and helping our kids think about others (when we give away stuff and volunteer, they participate).

Anyway, our kids are too close in age to know about hand-me-downs--they have started even wearing the same clothes at the same time. But as a younger sister who got hand-me-downs, honestly, I was not traumatized by it. By the time I was old enough to care, my sister and I were different shapes (I was taller), and so I had to get different stuff anyway.

Good luck!!

We ask all family and birthday party attendees to make a donation to the March of Dimes in our twins' honor in lieu of gifts. The march for babies walk-a-thon in our area is usually a few weeks after their birthday, so it's a tangible taste of what they are giving to... all those tiny preemies, just like they were, out in strollers, marching for improved medical care and reduced premature births. This is a tradition we hope the girls will want to carry on for always. People can easily donate online and the M.O.D. sends you a note with the donation amount and the givers info. So, we write thank you notes for those just as we would a gift. I think it helps show people that it really matters to us.

What I intend on doing is getting Dylan to donate 10 of his old toys each time he celebrates a birthday or xmas.

By the sounds of Max I don't think he would object at all.xx

100% ok ... your his mum... you decide what is best for him.

I am hearing of this more and more, especially with first birthdays. My friend's son had brain surgery at three-months, so for his first, she asked everyone to donate to that hospital. Another blogger collected canned goods and donations for her daughter's first birthday.
I, personally, think it's a fantastic idea. I would think that some might still bring something for Max - but either way, you are doing a great deed.

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