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Ideally, a no-presents class birthday party comes after several careful conversations with one’s child in which you discuss the reasons for it, acknowledge possible disappointment, and otherwise ease your child into forgoing what for many is the most exciting part of a class party.

Another option is to spring it on the kid once it’s too late to walk the decision back and with no discussion at all. Which is what I did today. Having considered the various options at hand for Simon’s upcoming party, I ultimately decided to save everyone the time they do not have and the money that might well be tight and just put “please no presents” on the invite.

Potentially unfortunately, I did not bother to explain this to Simon after I had already printed the invitations and put them in his teacher’s mailbox to go home with her class. He found out the same way his friends will—by reading it in print. The crazy part of this is that I wasn’t even worried about the fall-out. By this point in time I know my kid pretty well and, more importantly, he knows himself very well, too. Here’s how the discussion went down:

Me: “I brought your birthday invitations to school earlier today. Want to see them?”

Simon: “Oh yeah.”

Me: I take an extra from its envelope and hand it to him. “Go ahead. Read it.”

S: Reads, gets to “no presents please” and looks up at me.

Me: “Yeah. I forgot to tell you about that. We just want your friends to come and have fun. You don’t need them to bring presents.”

S: “Do I still get some presents at my family party?”

Me: “Of course. But there’s no point in getting them from school friends, too.”

S: “You mean because they all get Lego and stuff and I just want a sand wedge, iron, and golf bag?”

Me. “Yeah, because of that. How would they know?”

S: “You’re right. I sure hope someone in my family gets me a driver and sand wedge so I can go out and hit some balls.”

At this point, the conversation moved on to the basketball court being poured this week, the soccer he’d be playing after dinner, and the golf he hopes to take up soon. The needle on the trauma-meter barely budged. Still, if your kids are at all normal (i.e. toy liking) I cannot honestly recommend my approach!


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