In an attempt to become better stewards this year, Jamie and I have decided to make some changes in how we approach certain events. Since it is only January 9th, and the kids have already been invited to several birthday parties, we have decided to tackle this head-on. I'm not going to get on my full birthday party soap box, because I do have one. However, I will say that as the kids get invited to more and more birthday parties as they get older (it's inevitable, right?), I have gradually become more mindful of how our money is being spent.
On to our plan for the year: we've decided that in lieu of giving birthday gifts, we are going to donate the money we would have spent on the gift to a charity. This isn't an entirely new concept for us..we asked people for Gannon's first birthday to donate to charity instead of giving gifts..after all, what does a 1-year-old really need besides clean diapers?? Right now there are many organizations that are struggling due to the nation's economic crisis, and there are lots of families suffering as well. I know of a few, but for the most part, most of the families whose birthdays we're invited to are holding steady so far. I feel that a better use of our money could go to those who really need it. Is buying another toy helping anyone? It makes the child temporarily happy, but other than that it more than likely ends up in the pile of toys they already have at home (I'm speaking from personal experience with this one..). I've even found myself lately standing in the toy aisles of Target just trying to find something that the birthday child might not have already! We are surrounded by very blessed people! Jamie and I want to be better stewards of our money (and our time..time spent searching for that perfect gift!), and one way that we think we can do that is by increasing our charitable giving. We also want to be good role models for our children in the area of giving, and we think this might be another step in the never ending process of teaching them how to give. We've been teaching them about tithing at church, but we've never really sat them down and talked about giving to charity. I'm expecting some resistance from Melody, simply due to the fact that she loves to give gifts. I'm not sure she'll see giving to charity in quite the same light as handing over a wrapped toy that she got to pick out for her friend. She is a kid, after all, and she enjoys getting and giving wrapped gifts just like the next kid. I'll let ya know how it goes...
Okay, so our college group of friends has 12 children. That is a minimum of 10 parties, adding other parties from kids at school or church for both kids. Let's say we get 20 party invites this year. If I budget $10-20 per gift that I would usually spend, then that will be around $100-200 each year that will be going to charity instead. Nothing to make a dent in any organizations budget, for sure, but I am trying to stay focused on the aspect of giving rather than the actual dollar amount being sent. I'm probably going to do this for our relatives, too, so add those as well. Not bad!
All in all, I feel very good about our decision, and I hope that our kids can somehow grasp the concept in their concrete thinking brains. I'm sure there will be LOTS of handmade, colored notes from Melody going to the birthday parties this year. We're looking forward to it!