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?
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.
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.