The Fiver Birthday Gift

My children get invited to lots of birthday parties, they love them. The general rule seems to be a girl invites all the other girls in the class to her birthday and vice versa with the boys. All good, birthday parties are great.

Now I have two children regularly going to parties and the youngest will soon be at this stage. Again, generally speaking, the birthday gift is in the region of €15. Which is ok but what happens when all three children get two  party invites in a month, there’s €90 gone out of the monthly household budget.

Even leaving the expense aside there is the present shopping and then wrapping and then the card and the visit to the toy shop or the book shop.


Again this works the other way. I have been shocked at the amount of toys my kids have received in recent years at their parties. Of course, its lovely and I am grateful but it’s too much.

Anyway I read about this idea somewhere a couple of weeks ago and I think it’s the best idea ever. The “fiver” birthday gift. Instead of buying the birthday boy or girl a gift you put a fiver in the birthday card. No shopping and wrapping, no big expense and the child gets a wad of fiver’s which they can then use towards a bigger purchase or on what they want. Everyone is happy. A simple but beautiful idea!?


So now to instigate it.  Can you just start giving fiver’s in cards and explaining the idea or will that be slow to catch on? I am going to send this to the parents association of my children’s school and everyone reading this should do the same and in no time the fiver party will become the done thing. No more gift shopping. No more too many gifts for the birthday child. No more gift wrapping .The birthday child  can use the money for a game or towards a bike  or give it to charity, or save it or  do whatever they want. Everybody wins.

What do you think?

34 thoughts on “The Fiver Birthday Gift

  1. Caítríona says:

    I think it’s a fantastic idea. Maybe stick it up on your personal FB page so that all your friends can see it. Then perhaps a short note for the parents the first couple of times that you attend the parties?

  2. Alternative Rambling Mam says:

    Brilliant idea! I thought I was being a bit of scrooge when I started worrying about the ammount of birthday parties, so it’s good to see other parents have the same concerns! I wish it would catch on, the expense of the alternative is ridiculous. We actually started putting a tenner in each card, but we only have one kid in school at the minute. I like Caítríona’s suggestion of popping a note for the parents inside each card, explaining the idea.

  3. Joanna says:

    I love the idea. I’ve two going to birthday parties and it’s adding up! Like you I’m also overcome at birthday time by the amount – and standard – of presents that come in to the house. It’s too much! Much too much. Sometimes my kids are given presents of a higher standard than we get them! However, I suggested this idea to a friend and neighbour and she knocked it back. Said that although she agreed on the “too much” principle, she found people will still want to give their own, I’m sad. I want this idea to become a national standard please!

  4. The Clothesline says:

    I think if Parents Associations promoted it in schools it would have a better chance of catching on.

    I didnt really notice the expense of buying gifts when it was just my eldest attending regular parties but I am starting to feel it now.
    Haven’t seen inside a hairdressers in months but have purchased tonnes of moshi monsters…….*sigh*

  5. Frances says:

    Great idea. I made a suggestion to the Head of our Parents Association that we bring in a policy where we give a €10 Smyths/All4one voucher as a birthday gift. I personally have always done this and will be reqesting it on the invites for my kids. I had originally suggested €5 and so many parents said they wouldn’t feel comfortable giving so little!! Definitely some kind of policy has to be introduced.

  6. Susan Bell Flavin says:

    Sorry I am going to be the voice of dissension. Do you remember being a kid, at all? Do you remember the mad rush of excitement when you saw a PRESENT. All wrapped up. With a bow. And know it was FOR YOU. That is what a birthday was, when you were a kid. Presents for you. Everyone watching. Finally your turn. And then ripping and the surprise and the joy that is in the heart of a child as he or she opens her presents, on her birthday. Her day of days.

    Now I get your point about the money thing. It does get expensive. I have 4 kids myself, so I try and buy presents on sale in advance and stock up and never pay more than 5-7 euro for them. My 7 year old daughter got an invite recently that asked that the presents not be over 5 euro cost, which I thought was lovely and then the child still got to see a table with a pile of presents on it and I am sure couldn’t have cared less what they cost (she got a sticker book from us with a lolly pop in the bow and was delighted).

    I am also just loathe to get children really excited about getting MONEY MONEY MONEY all the time. Is that what the communions and confirmations have turned into? Isn’t that something we want to get away from? And I do see a difference in a childlike squeal of joy as a little one opens a present and the expectant and dull ‘thank you’ as she opens yet another card with yet another expected 5 euro in it. Rip. Tear. Next. How much have I got so far? What is my total? How much did YOU get on YOUR birthday? (OH please lets not start that, please!)

    Lets keep presents, please. They are impractical. They are probably a waste of money. But doing away with presents for a child’s birthday is a step too far for me!

    But I love your blog – my husband and I both do – I will just have to respectfully disagree with you on this one! 🙂

    • The Clothesline says:

      Absolutely that is a fair point. I agree there is nothing like opening a present and as a (not very mature, clearly) adult, I get disappointed with cash in a card on my birthday BUT family would still give the child wrapped pressies.
      I see what you mean about the adding up/talking about it- that really bothers me with childrens communions/confirmations.
      I don’t let my children open their gifts at their parties either though, am I alone on this? They wait till everybody is gone.

      Definitely agree though I would hate to see my kids anticipating cash or how much cash they were going to get. In my head I just had the idea of I would count it and bring them to Smyths and let them choose a gift. Mine are still young (ish) and dont really understand the value of money just yet.

  7. The Clothesline says:

    Also – it *might* help kids understand the value of things? I am trying to do that with the eldest at the minute. She was saving for some books she wanted. Three lots of tooth fairy money and cleaning her room enabled her to do so. Now she is saving for a horse……….

    My point is though maybe letting them “manage” their money a bit might give them more understanding and appreciation? Or is that a bit idealist?

  8. Susan Bell Flavin says:

    Sometimes I get the kids to wait to open their presents, sometimes it is fun for them to open the gifts at the party. (Kids like it when they get to see the person open the gift they brought too – I think it is okay to teach that you can get joy just from watching someone open presents). It just depends on the party. Either way, their siblings and their parents are watching and waiting, and opening presents is a big deal deal.

    I live in the country so I hear you on petrol costs. I do a lot of shopping online and watch out for the sales on toys, delivery is usually around 5 euro so if you order a few in advance at one time, it really makes economic sense. Argos has a clearance section on their website too, so if I am going in for something else, I will see what they have on clearance beforehand in the toy section and reserve it to collect when I got in. Got a cute fibre optic Moshi Monsters lamp for 6 euro – speaking of Moshi Monsters! 😉

  9. Michelle Conway says:

    I love the idea but am totally confused as to what it has to do with the Parents council. The PC is there for the good of the school & students- birthday parties are private outside of school events & Parents Councils/Associations have enough to be doing trying to fundraise to fill in the gap left by the cuts in Capitation Grants, Summer Works Scheme, Minor Works Scheme.

    • The Clothesline says:

      I meant if the idea could be included on the school/parents association newsletter. A small paragraph that all parents would read.
      The school my children attend is HUGE and currently in the middle of a big build so there is little opportunity to talk to other parents at the minute, an inclusion of this on newsletter might help spread the idea.
      I didn’t mean for the parents association to promote it outside school or to police it, just to mention it in a place where all parents would see it.

  10. tinyheartbeat says:

    We do this at my kids school. It works a treat. The only way to instigate it is to start it with your own kids party. On the invite to my kids party I wrote ‘€5 gift limit’. When any mother asked me, I said, either stick €5 in a card or a smyths voucher for same, or a book. He got a big wad of cash, some of which i spirited away to his savings account and with the rest he bought a play mobile toy he really wanted.

  11. Emer says:

    Parents council sent out a lovely note last year re the fiver party its going down a real treat as it doesn’t put people under pressure, they gave a little note and suggested that its the responsibility of the parent to put a little envelope drawing on the party invite with €5 inside the envelope drawing. 99% of parents are sticking to it and its a great idea and works, its highly recomended espcially if you have more than one child in school

  12. Tonette Joyce says:

    I can tell you that here in the US, you are on target; most get too many toys , but I think most kids would rather get a ‘fiver’ from everyone so they can get what they want.
    (Christmas being a different situation.THEN I think the anticipation of opening presents would be missed).I have too often found that the kids have either the same thing or we were just ‘off’ of whatever particular thing caught their latest fancy or was not quite part of what they were collecting.With the horrific price of video/computer/Xbox, (whatever) games, this way, they could pool the money and get what they want.They might actually be talked into putting a little away!
    I hope your idea catches on!

  13. Kirstine Davies says:

    I personaly like giving gifts but only tend to go on th £5 mark but bargin hunt!! My daughter just had a birthday party and got £15 of cash all in £5 notes and was over the moon, she also got some gifts to unwrap too, so a good mix 🙂

  14. says:

    It’s so much easier shopping on the internet if you would like anything stylish. I was away shopping over the weekend and there is like 4 shops in my vicinity that sells young children’s
    outfits, and they all have the same things just about

  15. Learner Mama - Lucy says:

    We started this in my daughter’s class over a year ago. I blogged about it in my guide to birthday parties (maybe that’s where you read about it :))

    It really is great and allows me to agree to let my daughter go to parties much more easily without bankrupting myself.

    • The Clothesline says:

      This is an oldie! Didnt catch on in my older kids classes. There has been an attempt at it with my junior infants class but its still 50/50. One day!!! Three on the party circuit now ffs, its CRAZY MONEY.

      • Learner Mama - Lucy says:

        ha ha! I’m so slow! Only saw this now (after reading your Tiger post!) (so clearly you didn’t read it on my Guide!) You will be glad to know it spread to North County Dubin!:) It hasn’t spread to my son’s class but it is his birthday next month so I might just go for it and see if it will catch on….as for my baby I will try from junior infants. It is CRAZY MONEY 🙂

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