Holy Spending on a One Year Old!

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-10-2003
Holy Spending on a One Year Old!
Mon, 10-01-2012 - 1:33pm

So BF and I went to a birthday party for my "nephew" this weekend (not really by nephew, my best friend's son. BF and I decided that we would contribute to his college fund rather then get a gift (he' 1, he won't remember). There were probably about 30 people at the party, and the MONEY spent on toys was incredible! There had to be over $1500 worth of toys. This is in addition to the basement full of toys he has (by friend is so frustrated by how his in-laws spoil the baby)  And guess what . . . he played with the box!

I don't have kids, so could someone please tell me . . . would it be acceptable to have a bday party for a child and in lieu of a gift ask for contributions to the college fund or a charitable donation? Maybe its because I hear so many stories of parents who are struggling with the retirement vs college debate, and I look at the $1k that the baby won't remember and I think how much that could represent down the road.

Perhaps this is because I have no children . . .

Bex -


iVillage Member
Registered: 05-08-2006
Mon, 10-01-2012 - 1:59pm

I don't think it is ever acceptable to say on an invitation what someone should give.  I do think for grandparents', aunts and unces, etc, it is acceptable to discuss with them concerns about the number of toys a child has and the amount of money being spent, and suggest that contributions ot a college fund - not just for this child, but perhaps for all future children in that generation - would be welcome.  I also think that when a child is older, having him select toys already played with to give to charity is a good idea.  A parent can also remove presents from the stream and put them away - either for future use or even regifting - and route money to the college fund that way. 

When my oldest nephew was born he was the first child in any part of his family for about 20 years...and so everyone wanted to buy him cute things.  I decided that I would buy him, and all fuure children, only books.  When opening gifts, my gift is not the most exciting...but it is the one that is still being used weeks, and even years, later.  At one party, the cards and gifts got mixed up, and mine was with a box of clothes.  The child involved knew right away that was not my gift...When he opened the books, he had a big smile 'THESE are from aunty'.  I always write something in the books, and another child was convinced that any book that was written in said 'To ----with love from aunty -----.  I got credit for buying all books, even when I wasn't the purchaser!

You are correct that what children love is the box....good for you for making a donation that will go towards the child's future.  And as for grandparents who buy evreything a child wants, a freind of mine once told his parents...'Its OK if you buy them whatever they want - keep in mind, when they turn 16, they will want a car.'  This heped his parents see that they were setting unrealistic expetations for the child that they would not be able to sustain.   



Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Mon, 10-01-2012 - 2:27pm

Oh Bex, you have definately opened a "box" of worms.  Tee hee.....

As far as your specific question, at first I thought "sure, with a one year old, that would be okay," but I don't think it is realistically that cut and dry.   It is one of those things that sounds like a good idea, until it is time to put into practice. 

I have always been torn over what takes precendence:  What the receiver wants or needs or what the giver chooses to give.

Kids overwhelmed with toys is kind of things you see on reality shows either about clutter, or finances.  I think it is wonderful you were able to see the insanity of a one year old having so many toys and the value of what could compound over time with an investment instead. 

So, your persective is right on the money.  Would in fly in practice, probably not. 

However, you/we still have the option of what we spend on our own kids, or on other people children.  If you contine with practical gifts, you may still want to bring something small for the child to actually open.  My grown kids often just want gift cards for groceries or for their electricy bill for Christmas.  It is great they appreciate a practical gift, but sometimes you want to give something that you think would be really neat or different.  I may find them something really cool, and they may even like it, but my cool gift won't help them buy food.  Kind of a catch 22. 

Anywho, just some perspective, that is all.  I am not saying one way is right or wrong. 


iVillage Member
Registered: 02-11-2006
Mon, 10-01-2012 - 2:44pm
I'm not at all surprised to hear about the 1 year old's bday party. The amount of stuff kids get is insane. My DH and I have the only 2 kids on both sides of our families. They are spoiled. We have tried to get the grandparents to tone it down, but have only been mildly successful. As a parent, I would LOVE money to put away for my kids, but I get that grandparents, etc. want to give something the kids with love immediately. Our gifts to our kids tend to be small and not terribly exciting, but I've learned to let the gift competition go. It's disappointing to see how society is so hooked on STUFF.
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-2001
Mon, 10-01-2012 - 2:52pm


I totally hear what you are saying.  

When my kids were younger I really hated all the unnecessary toys (and the work it took to keep my home orderly).

But if someone is iniviting that many people to a one year old's bday, then they knew they would receive that many gifts.  Buying presents for small children is really a lot of fun.  And the parents had to know that their invitees would be overindulging in gifts.   (I personally would have never invited that many people to my children's bday.)

From an etiquette standpoint, you can never try to dictate what a person should give.

I have some close friends who I consider family, so their children are very important to me.  I try to make an effort to DO something with the children for their bdays.  Like during their bday week, I might pick them up from school (obviously with authorization - lol) and take them to an early fancy dinner, or hiking, or apple picking . . . just something fun that we can share.  Even when my children were young, bdays were always about DOING something rather than GETTING something.

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Mon, 10-01-2012 - 2:59pm
I know a child whos grandparents take them out to a meal every year, and let them invite one friend to go with them.

Not only go the grandparents bring the child a gift, the bring one for the friend, too! It is more of a token gift (my DD came home with a juggling kit) but I thought that was kind of a fun idea.

My SO always prefers doing something over gift opening.
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2012
Mon, 10-01-2012 - 6:28pm
This is a fabulous idea, Bex. I used to put on invitations to my kids' parties "The gift of your presence is all that we ask for". My kids hated it and, of course, people brought gifts anyway. Now that I've read this, and have two kids in college, I wish I had thought of it!
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-17-2010
Mon, 10-01-2012 - 7:05pm

I don't think the invitation should point blank state what people should give; but if people ask what to get for the wee one then requesting a college fund contribution isn't out of line.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-14-2008
Wed, 10-03-2012 - 10:42am

I'm with kt if asked it isn't out of line. People will get what they want to regardless. 

We tell our family that we have started an RESP, so dropping hints is acceptable as well.

For ourselves...I bought Lila some cheap summer toys that were on clearance for summer for next summer. A shovel and pail, a mini blowup pool, a hat ect etc. I bet it all cost $10. I am going to wrap that up for Christmas and her gift from us will be a contribution to her RESP.

You are right they don't understand gifts at that age and really just need something to open. Im sure she will just be trying to suck on the wrapping paper lol. 

Avatar for CMEvelyn
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-29-2012
Thu, 10-04-2012 - 1:23pm

"I decided that I would buy him, and all future children, only books."

I think that is a great idea, and you can spend as little or as much as you want. My daughter has an aunt who always gave books to all the kids when they were little. When they started to get a little older and she wasn't sure what their taste in books was anymore, she gave them gift cards to bookstores. Even if the gift card is only $10 or $15, you can still get a nice book for that.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2008
Fri, 10-05-2012 - 10:24pm

I'm probably the wrong person to ask since I did not have birthday parties for my children. I invited close family members to a dinner w/balloons and cake. The grandparents only bought clothing...and they received mostly second hand toys from my SIL.

My children don't have as many toys as other children do. DH always says "He does need it" every time I try to buy something. Grandparents mostly buy snow suits & practical things we need.

When our niece turned 1, we were not only asked to bring a gift but we were ALSO asked to contribute to her college fund. Of course we didn't...we don't have a college fund for our boys yet!