Spread your all-star's love of sports by hosting a sports-themed party. Round up his buddies and head to a local game or gather them for some soccer or baseball at home. Skip the gifts; instead encourage guests to pitch a donation to Good Sports, an active-lifestyle charity that provides underprivileged children with athletic equipment and apparel.
The Midwest-based Animal Humane Society hosts children's birthday parties at its shelters. Follow their lead and ask the staff at your local animal shelter if they would let your little pet-lover and her friends visit (some local SPCAs and humane societies offer similar programs).
Host a doll-making party for your crafty do-gooder. Each kit from Happy Doll includes one blank and one decorated muslin doll, plus art supplies (suggested donation of $25 per kit). Have each guest customize a doll, then send one or both back to Happy Doll Inc., where they will be sent out to kids in need. Each guest gets her doll's tracking number so she can watch it travel the world through the nonprofit's website.
Your child will feel all grown up when he sets up his own Panda Page through the World Wildlife Fund -- where he can specify that instead of receiving gifts this year, he would like to help save his favorite endangered animal. Guests can leave a birthday message on his Web-page wall and make a donation. Hit the zoo or host an animal-themed party.
As we stress over every detail of our kid's day, we forget that some children are not able to celebrate theirs because of financial hardship. Teach your child to appreciate what she has. Host a party with just close family and friends. Then ask guests to make a donation to Birthday Wishes in lieu of a gift and include the money you would have spent on a bigger bash. The nonprofit will use the funds to celebrate a homeless child's birthday with décor, gifts, and a cake.
Delight your wannabe chef by hosting a cooking party that helps combat child hunger. Allow guests to create their own waffles, pizza, or ice-cream sundaes, and instead of a gift ask that they make a donation to Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign, which is devoted to ending child hunger in America.