'Fiver Parties' For Birthdays Make Everyone's Life Easier

by Karen Johnson
Originally Published: 
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I’m not one to jump on trends, whether they are parenting fads, the latest health craze, or the new beauty product everyone is raging about. I tend to stick with what I know, and that means buying the same Aveeno lotion for 20 consecutive years, making the same pointless, empty threats to my kids when they don’t listen, and eating healthy all week only to binge on pizza and beer every Friday night so that by Sunday I hate myself. See? No changes. And I’m comfortable that way.

But the latest birthday party trend—hosting a “Fiver Party“—is one I can get behind.

Here’s the deal … rather than hosting a birthday party for your kid and having them receive 15 toys from Target or Walmart that they may or may not already have, that they may or may not ever play with, and that YOU have to find room for in your shit-storm of a house, you tell guests to just bring $5 instead. All the kids roll up to your trampoline party or your Chuck E Cheese party or your princess party with a mere $5 bill (a.k.a. a “fiver”). Your kid then pools all their cash and gets that one super cool gift they really want.

As a parent with young children jumping from birthday party to birthday party 12 months a year, I’m totally on board with this. You mean rather than dropping $20 in the Target toy aisle every time a Maddie or a Tyler invites my kid to a gymnastics party, I just send them with five bucks? You mean I don’t have to drive to the toy store with my kids only to fight with them the whole time about how “they aren’t getting a toy today because it’s not their birthday”? And I save like $15 per party and don’t waste money on something for a child I barely know?

Yes, please!

And as a mom of three kids who tend to have birthdays every year (Can we skip one once in a while? No?), I’m a fan of this idea. I know my daughter loves opening 5 million LOLs and Hatchimals and Shopkins. But guess who doesn’t love it? Her mom, who then finds them all over the living room floor, minivan, and basement. The truth is, my kids don’t need a million $20 toys. Hell, they don’t really need any toys, TBH. But it’s their birthday and getting birthday gifts is fun. Having them instead think about one or two “big” gifts that they truly will enjoy makes so much more sense though, doesn’t it?

We actually did something similar to this for my son’s 10th birthday last year. He told me to tell anyone who asked that he really only wanted Amazon gift cards. So if anyone did happen to ask for ideas when his birthday rolled around, that’s exactly what I said. And in the end, he was able to purchase a Nintendo Switch for himself—a giant gift that he wouldn’t have received otherwise.

Naysayers say the “Fiver Party” idea is obnoxious. They say it’s presumptuous to assume your kid is going to receive gifts. And that it will make your child bratty and spoiled to dictate what they receive from others.

Here’s my response to that. We always bring a gift to parties, unless the host specifies that it’s a “no-gift” party or that they are only collecting donations for a charity. Otherwise, yeah, we roll into the toy aisle at whatever store we are closest to that day and pick out something. I try to find out from my kids what the child is “into” but more often than not, my kids have no fucking clue and it’s a crapshoot. Are they into Star Wars? Baseball? Transformers? Nerf guns? LOLs? Barbie? Crafts? I ask my kids these questions and they’re like, “Um, she wore a pink sweatshirt yesterday.” Cool. That’s helpful. So we grab something—maybe the child will love it. Maybe we just pissed twenty bucks down the drain. Who knows.

So taking the guesswork out and just asking us to bring five bucks makes me very happy. If you host a “Fiver Party,” I don’t think it makes your kid sound like a spoiled brat. I think it’s practical, saves money, and reduces overconsumption and waste. And it levels the playing field, since everyone brings the same thing.

Kids spend the whole party playing, laughing, and having fun. And, this idea teaches our kids the valuable experience of saving for something they really want. When my son came up with the idea for a new video game system, he did research to compare the Switch, X Box, and PS4. He knew how much each would cost and made a plan to earn the balance if he was short some cash. This gift meant a great deal to him and he thanked everyone who gave him a gift card, telling them all that they “gave” him a Nintendo Switch.

Personally, I would rather know that my $5 is going toward the Barbie Dream House your kid really wants rather than wrapping up a jewelry making kit that will collect dust in her closet. So I say Fiver Parties, FTW.

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