"Don't judge me, but... I don't want to get my nephew the birthday present his parents want."

My nephew turns five in a month. It’s a big one. “A whole hand of fingers Aunty,” he tells me.

It’s not his first birthday party that he will be an active participant at (unlike his first which he slept through). But it is the first one that he is looking forward to. He has the ability to think ahead and has specifically asked it to be dinosaur themed.

The problem isn’t him.

The problem is his parents. My brother and sister-in-law.

They sent out the invite via e-mail. And within the invite it clearly stated:

“No presents please.”

Now, I get it. I understand that kids get a lot of junk. And my nephew has more toys than he knows what to do with. But he’s five. Isn’t that the most exciting part of having a birthday party? Ripping open the paper, looking at the toy, screaming “Oh wow, mum look”, chucking it to the side and getting on to the next one?

"Isn’t opening presents the most exciting part of having a birthday party?" Image via iStock.

But wait. It gets worse. It continued:

“Instead, please purchase him an experience.”

An experience? So, no present, but a gift voucher to the movies. Or to a theme park. Or something.

Read more: “Dear Parents, it’s a child’s birthday party not a wedding, get over yourselves.”

Now, an experience might be a great gift. Hell, I love anyone who buys me a spa day voucher. But I’m in my late 20s. Not five.

A five-year-old doesn’t want to open an envelope with something they can only just read. They don’t exclaim, “Oh wow,” to a piece of paper saying, “One day, I'll get to see a movie”.

There is no instant gratification. Yes, they’ll have a memory. But that thrill of a present is lost.

"Where's the thrill in a gift card for a five-year-old?" Image via iStock.

There is another problem to this request. While I’m a lovely, generous Aunt. I was planning on spending $20 on a present. Maybe a dinosaur toy. Or a book about dinosaurs. I’m not in a high paying job. I have bills like everyone else, and I don’t have heaps of money to spend on a kid’s birthday. Even if it is my nephew.

Now, say I get him a movie voucher experience. A kid’s ticket is $15. But I can’t exactly just buy him a ticket…it’s not like he’s going to go to the movies on his own to enjoy some peace and quiet. I would have to buy his parents too. That’s another two tickets at $20 each. Plus, what are they going to do with his three-year-old sister? There’s another $15. That’s $50 in total.

Read more: “Why I didn’t give my daughter a first birthday party.”

I thought about buying him a ticket and one adult pass, saying I’ll take him. $35, right? Nope. Because I’m obviously going to hit up the candy bar with him, and let’s admit, my rent money could easily be spent just getting two choc tops.

And that’s the cheapest “experience” option available.

"I have no idea what I should do." Image via iStock.

So, what should I do? Should I just be the annoying guest at the party who brings a toy? Or should I just bite the bullet and spend the money on an “experience” for my five-year-old nephew?

What do you think?