How to stop #unnecessary gifts at your kid’s b-day

If you have kids, no doubt you have experienced the overwhelming flood of unnecessary stuff that accompanies birthday parties. Much of it plastic and nearly immediately disposable.

At a gathering of sustainability minded people, this topic arose from a general discussion about recycling. Recycling requires resources and energy, and so refusing unnecessary material goods is better. But how to do this in gift giving situations?

I’ve seen a new approach from parents in my community where kids have “twonie” parties so that one dollar goes to the kid, the other to a chosen charity. This works sometimes, but the folks I was chatting with observed that some people can’t help but bring a gift too.

This gets awkward. No right-minded green wants to be preachy: we know this isn’t effective. So how to tell other, perhaps, not so like minded parents you don’t want gifts for sustainability reasons? This infers you think they won’t make environmentally responsible choices (which is true). Answer: don’t.

Here is a new tactic: tell them no gifts will be accepted. Any that are received will go to children in need.

This way, it is clear that regardless of how accustomed someone may be to giving gifts you simply won’t accept them.

What we are trying to avoid is the purchase of items you don’t need or want… So they either won’t bring any, or the items will go somewhere they may be needed… And hopefully the gift givers will opt for items with a small footprint and long shelf life!

To a new world waiting,



2 Responses

  1. Hi Heather, great website and good article. Twonie parties is the way to go. Kids already get a lot of things these days. I think its important to point our that you are also saving people the effort of trying to figure out what to get for your kid. Ideas with benefits beyond the green guilt have been more succesful in my experiences.
    Mark B.

    • Thanks Mark! I’m really happy to see the twonie party concept in full gear with my son’s peers. It almost feels odd when we are invited to a party that requires gifts now.

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