How to handle the birthday "gimmes"

We decided to try ECHOage out for Adam’s sixth birthday party, and I must say I was impressed.

Back in December I told you about ECHOage, an online service that teaches kids about giving during an occasion they usually think of in terms of getting: birthdays. Well, we decided to try it out for Adam’s sixth birthday party, and I must say I was impressed.

Here’s how it works. We went to the ECHOage website and had a look at the dozen or so charities listed, explained each one to Adam in simple terms and asked him to pick one. He chose Autism Speaks Canada. Then we set up the party invitation on the site, which suggested to guests (or their parents) that they may make a contribution through the website in lieu of a gift, with half the money going to support Autism Speaks and the other half going toward one meaningful group gift for Adam.

It’s a win-win for parents, who are often too busy to shop around for a present, and for Adam, who was able to feel empowered by sharing his good fortune with others. Plus, he got to decide how to spend his portion of the cash – giving him some perspective on prices and what his money could buy. Talk about a teachable moment!

This concept is really catching on; two more of Adam’s classmates have already hosted ECHOage parties this year.

What are your tips for keeping kids’ birthday expectations in perspective?

About the Author

Tamar Satov

Managing Editor, CPA magazine
Tamar is a journalist specializing in business, parenting and personal finance. She blogs regularly in this space with advice and anecdotes on her efforts to raise a money-smart kid.