How to Have a Party Without All the Stuff (That the Kids Will Still Rave About)

Whether you go big or small, birthday parties are a great time for kids. They’re a chance to see friends, feel special and have lots and lots of fun. What tends to not be great is all the stuff that the birthday kid ends up taking home. Yes, gifts are nice and a special treat and should be enjoyed. But sometimes the birthday kid ends up with loads of toys and other things that they just don’t need and won’t really play with.

If you like the idea of going minimalistic on things and bringing more meaning to your kids’ party but don’t know where to start, here are a few great tips to help.

Make the birthday party itself the gift

Start by getting people on board and making it clear to guests that you really don’t want lots of stuff. Explain that the party itself is where the real fun is at. One great idea is to hold the party at a destination venue. You could try something like Treetop Trekking, for example, or head to an indoor waterpark resort. You could even try a sporting event or a live show. Whether it’s at an indoor playground or with a specific cool theme, the party is the main attraction—the presents are not. Besides, your child will still likely get thoughtful gifts from close family members. And it’s about quality, not quantity.

Appeal to your kids’ sense of compassion with charity

One fantastic and well-thought out idea is ECHOage—a birthday party platform that helps facilitate meaningful birthday experiences where kids raise money in lieu of gifts. Your child selects a charity (we think SickKids is a fantastic choice!) and at least half the proceeds go to charity, with the other half going to buying your child one meaningful gift.

It’s a win for parents because you don’t end up with tons of unnecessary gifts, your child helps give back to a great cause and it’s super easy. ECHOage sends invitations, tracks responses, allows guests to donate right to SickKids and even sends thank you notes. Pretty impressive! Plus, fellow parents will love you because they won’t have to run out to the store to buy a present, worry about it being a duplicate gift or spend hours trying to figure out what a child they may not know very well wants.

Ask for experience gifts instead of things

If you’re planning a family party or a small gathering of friends, one idea is to ask for experiences instead of presents. Some ideas and thought starters include movie tickets, mini-golf or bowling, lessons or classes or even one-on-one time with someone special.

Encourage no-cost or low-cost, thoughtful tokens instead

You could mention a few personal ideas to guests as an alternative to gifts. Things like a handmade card, or a list 5 of their favourite things about the birthday kid—decorated up nicely, or added to a photo of the friends together, for example. Other ideas include creating a playlist of the birthday kid and friend’s favourite songs, or a small, but favourite, treat.


We partnered with ECHOage and SickKids on this post, but the views and opinions are our own.



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