A few years ago I was planning my son’s birthday party. A friend casually mentioned the idea of a “fiver party” to me and I was intrigued and wanted to learn more. A fiver party is when guests are asked to bring $5 rather than a toy or some other gift. I immediately loved this idea!
Gifts are always a source of stress for me. I tend to be a minimalist. I don’t like clutter and dislike my son receiving excessive amounts of toys as gifts for his birthday (which is also near Christmas). He plays with them for a few days then they get placed in a toy box not to resurface again for weeks. Of course, if I try to toss any, he insists they are ALL his FAV toys. I always felt like parents and grandparents bought more than enough for him, there really was no need for his friends and classmates to bring anything. I begged people not to bring gifts year after year for his birthdays just to avoid this problem. Because everyone is so kindhearted, guests never listened and generously brought gifts anyway.
When his 5th birthday approached, I researched the fiver party concept more thoroughly and decided it was the perfect fit for us. I was a little nervous the first time I did this because I was so worried people would think we were asking for money. I created the carefully worded invitation and sent it to family and classmates. I won’t lie, the first year was a tad awkward. Most people brought $5, some brought a traditional gift, and some brought $5 AND a gift. Guests told me they felt so weird not bringing a gift. I explained the reasons we had decided to explore the fiver party and they seemed to understand but just felt awkward breaking the norm.
The first year he collected over $150 for his birthday. I took him to Target and he picked 3 toys he wanted and put the rest in his savings account. I took pictures of him shopping at Target and placed the images in a thank you card I sent to all the guests who attended the party. I explained how much he got and how he spent the money.
The next year, almost everyone brought $5. In fact, over the next few years, one mom friend of mine had a fiver party for her daughter and continues to do so each year. Now that more parents have been exposed to the idea, they seem to feel like it is less awkward and some have even commented that they too may consider making the switch to the fiver party.
Most guests are used to this concept now, so the awkwardness regarding money over gifts seems to have subsided.
Of course, my son still gets tangible gifts for his birthday from his grandparents, aunts and uncles, and us. So he ends up with plenty to open the day of his party! We also make him open each card and read them and thank the guests who gave him $5. He has never felt like he did not get enough or had a bad birthday party. After his party, he now practices counting his money and makes plans on how he will spend it. Though, this year he decided to put it ALL in savings… mom win!
This has also shifted my perspective about gifts we get our son’s friends. All of his friends now get $5 as well. If I think a parent may be offended by cash, I sometimes get a $5 gift card to Whataburger or ChicFilA instead. This has reduced my stress dramatically. He makes a handmade card for his friend, I add $5, and we make our way to his friend’s party with no stress about rushing to the store for a cheap toy that will undoubtedly end up in the trash in a few weeks.
This is a rather radical shift from the traditional party-going norms. It can be awkward to do at first, but well worth it! Here are some of the reasons I like fiver parties:
- Teaches your child money management
- Shifts the reason for birthday celebrations to people and memories and less about gifts
- Reduces clutter in your home
- Reduces waste in landfills, because let’s face it: those toys end up in the trash
- Saves guests time & minimizes stress- no shopping required!
Should this sound like something you would like to try, here are a few tips and suggestions:
INVITATIONS-Carefully worded invitations are essential, especially if you have never hosted one before. Many people don’t know what a fiver party is. Below are some sample ideas you can use in your invitations!
“Your presence is more important than presents! This year (child’s name) is having a Fiver Party! In lieu of a gift, bring $5 so the birthday boy/girl can buy something they are saving up for!”
“Let’s Teach our kids that parties are about fun together, not just presents. Please join us to celebrate and consider giving $5 and reduce the stress of buying a gift.”
“Your presence is the only present that we need, but should you want to give something to the birthday boy/girl, please consider giving $5 that he/she can put toward something special.”
SIGNAGE– Usually there is one place everyone places gifts at a birthday party. Place a sign at that location that says something like this:
This way guests have another reminder of what you are doing and why you are doing it, because not all guests will have seen the invitation, plus it just makes people who are struggling with dropping off $5 at the gift table feel a bit less awkward with this new-to-them idea.
THANK YOU CARDS- I think this is one of the most important parts. There are a variety of ways to do this, but one way I mentioned earlier was to take pictures of your child shopping or of them with their purchases and send to guests saying something like, “Using the money he/she got for their birthday, these are the items they picked out! Thanks for making their birthday party such a special day!” I created mine online and added the image and printed as many as I needed. Again, this can be done in many ways, but I think it is an important follow up not only because thank you cards are polite, but also because it helps guests get a little more used to the idea of a fiver party and they can see it through to the end…which is how the child uses the money.
There is no going back now, we LOVE fiver parties! I love how his parties are now more about his friends, family, and creating memories rather than excessive amounts of gifts. I did not invent this concept, and I am still learning as I go each year, but we are definitely committed now. Have you hosted a fiver party? If so, I would love to hear your experience and tips for success!