The 'Fiver Party' is the new birthday gift giving trend that's dividing parents.

If you searched the definition of “child’s birthday party” it would say “fun, games and tears” – and that’s just for the parents.

There’s the fun of planning a party for your beloved offspring, but then there’s the ‘games’ played by parents; all the unspoken rules and birthday politics. Do you invite the whole class? Do you insist on inviting a child your kid doesn’t want there, because you went to their party?

Then there’s the gift etiquette. You know your child has so much stuff, so do you politely write “no gifts please” on the invitation – knowing that will guarantee seven truckloads of unnecessary goodies?

Or do you do what is increasingly common these days, and request cash, for either charity donation or for the child to put towards something they really want?

In 2019, the cash gift concept has become even more streamlined; it’s called a “Fiver Party”. This is where attendees place a five dollar note inside a card in lieu of a gift. The child then chooses to spend the money on something they really want, or they can save it to put it towards something else later.

The pro for the gift-giver is it’s simple, inexpensive, and there’s no wrapping. For the parent of the recipient, the pro is there’s not a giant heap of $20 toys which aren’t really needed or appreciated. Instead, the birthday kid can purchase just one or two big gifts they choose themselves which actually “spark joy” as Marie Kondo likes to say – and are thus vastly more meaningful.

The wording on the invitations can go something like this:

“This is a ‘Fiver Party’. Timmy/Tammy is saving for a [insert gift], so if you’d like to come to the party with a gift, please simply pop $5 in a card.”

But, as with many things parenting, the concept is dividing parents. Some think a Fiver Party is inspired economics, and a win-win for all. Others feel it’s not in the spirit of giving, and also, they just don’t like being told what to do – especially, with their money.

We asked Mamamia‘s Facebook parenting group, Mamamia Parents, and the writer’s friends, for their thoughts.

Andrew Daddo and Holly Wainwright discuss cash gifts for kids. Post continues after. 

The Fiver Party ‘yes camp’.

Many parents took to the economical and practical idea.

“I think it makes sense financially and probably environmentally if the kids gets one big thing they actually need rather than a whole heap of smaller toys that will eventually end up in landfill.” – Leah

“Great idea – especially for someone who has everything.” – Jutta

“Kids aren’t then competing with each other in there playground and know what to expect as their gift… Imagine there’s three parties on the same weekend… all Fiver Parties. How much less stress for everyone! Brilliant idea.” – Rowena

“Kids get given so much for birthdays that they don’t need. I also like that this gives them an idea about money and what stuff costs.” – Ashleigh

“I have been doing this for years because I forget to buy the gift (though it’s usually a $20 to cover the guilt factor). Needless to say I’d be a fan of the Fiver Party.” – Sally

“Spending $20 on a present doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up when you have two to three kids attending parties, and it meant I limited which ones they attended.” – Sophie


There was a common concern that the request could sound rude, but most agreed that if the wording sounded like a suggestion and not a demand, and was very polite, the recipient wouldn’t be offended.

The Fiver Party ‘no camp’.

Yet plenty of parents disliked the idea because it was “joyless” and not in the spirit of giving.

“So worth it in theory, but quite joyless. Are we just overthinking this whole gifting thing? How about just asking the parents, or the child, what they need or would like? That way it can be either needed or appreciated.” – Jenny

“I think it takes the fun out of it. My kids love buying their friends a present and are always hanging out to see them open it.” – Leah

“As a parent I think it’s freaking awesome, but if I was a kid I would hate it. The excitement is opening all the presents and the kids who come love seeing the birthday child open their gift.” – Lisa

“This is not what gift giving is about… it is about thinking about your friend, taking the trouble to find something you think they will like and sharing a nice moment with them.” – Julia

What does an expert say about a Fiver Party?

Amy McCready, author of The Me, Me, Me Epidemic: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World told the Today show:

“Our kids often get so inundated with ‘stuff’ on their birthday that each gift becomes less special.

“With fiver parties, parents and close relatives can still give the child a few gifts, and friends can help contribute to a larger coveted item or experience.”

What do you think of Fiver Parties? Tell us in the comments below.

If you’d like to hear more from Nama Winston, see her stories here, and subscribe to her weekly Mamamia Parents newsletter here.

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