We’d like people to make a donation instead of giving our kids gifts.

We’re having a birthday party for our twins next month, and I am about to send out the invitations. We are blessed to have more toys and clothes than the children could need, so I was thinking of asking guests to make a contribution to a charity in my children’s names instead of bringing a gift to the party. How can I word this on the invitation?

I’m not going to tell you, because then you’ll do it and I don’t think you should. Public, pious do-gooding makes my teeth hurt.

What if your party guests hate charities? What if someone has a real bone to pick with poor orphans, and you’ve decided that everyone has to give money to the poor-kid orphanage? What if they were planning on re-gifting whatever you gave them last year at their kid’s party, and now you’re forcing them to actually spend money?

Spectacular birthday parties for little kids are like a terrible rash, spreading across neighborhoods and schools. One day you were going to just serve pizza and let a couple kids run around the back yard, and all of a sudden you’re hiring a space shuttle to take the entire school to Mars…I feel like the whole “gift donation” thing just feeds into that competitive baloney.

If you really don’t want more toys and clothes, don’t open the presents at the party. Explain to your kids beforehand that once the party is over, you can open them, they can keep one thing, and that you’re going to give away all the rest to kids whose parents can’t afford to take them to Mars for their birthdays.

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