January 22, 2019
From smash cakes to doughnut walls, kids' birthday party trends are always evolving, as parents are always looking for new, fun ways to celebrate their little ones' milestones. For instance, Pinterest recently noted that number-shaped cakes, scavenger hunts, and enchanted forest themed parties are all rising in popularity. But another trend, which could have even more widespread appeal, seems to be catching on. Called "fiver parties," the concept involves telling guests to skip a traditional gift (like a doll, electronic, game, books, etc.) in lieu of a $5 bill.
Lana Hallowes on Australian parenting site Babyology described the trend in a now-viral article, originally posted in August 2018. "The other day my son was invited to a ‘fiver birthday’—a fiver what? I remember thinking as I turned the invitation over for the ‘please explain’ bit on the back," Hallowes wrote.
She quickly learned that many moms in her community had been throwing and attending parties like this. "In short, a fiver party is an end to all of our kid present-buying woes!" she noted. "It is simply a birthday party where all the little guests bring a $5 note to go towards a big ticket present that the parents have bought and which the child really wants. There's no gift. No stress and no expense."
The Perks of Throwing a Fiver Party
Hallowes went on to make a case for the concept by explaining that it reduces stress for parents who no longer have to "dash to the shops to buy a present and then wonder if the birthday girl already has a rainbow My Little Pony or too much Duplo." It's "budget-friendly," "removes the expectation of ‘stuff’ from birthdays," "teaches kids that parties are about friends and having fun, not piles of presents," and "teaches them the value of saving for something that they really want."
Plus, it "cuts down on toy clutter." (Marie Kondo would be proud.) And it's eco-friendly! As Hallowe pointed out: "How many toys end up in landfill after being loved for a period of time and then ignored?"
How You Throw Your Child a Fiver Party
Hallowe recommended writing something like the following on invitations: “Archie is having a fiver party! He really wants a (name big ticket gift item) so instead of bringing him a gift, please pop a $5 note in a card to go towards this. He’s very excited! Thank you."
When it comes to the big day, "you could either present your child with the big ticket item at the party for his friends to see what they all gave him, or you could save this for after everyone has gone home."
What Moms Are Saying
Although the trend seems to have, at least initially, garnered the most buzz in Australia, North American moms are into it, too. Florida mom Rachel Horan told TODAY.com in June 2018 that she threw one for her daughter Michaela. "She'd been wanting a zoo pass and we've been trying to put a bigger emphasis on experiences versus things," Horan explained. "So when people asked, we just said if they'd like to contribute to a zoo pass it would very appreciated but that we would never expect anyone to feel obligated to bring a gift. She ended up getting enough gift cards and cash to get her zoo pass plus an additional summer camp, and also received gift cards to the movies and a local play center. It was so wonderful and is creating many more memories than a toy could. So many parents said they wish they had thought of it with their own kids, but were never sure how to word it."
A mom named Amy W. tells Parents.com that she's interested in throwing a fiver party for her son. "He is turning 6 and want to get him one—yes, one!—big present," she shares. "My children have soooo many toys, we are bursting at the seams and don’t need more...I’m in the process of getting rid of some!"
Danielle J. from Phoenix, Arizona says she feels like throwing children a fiver party has benefits for kids and parents beyond those Hallowe shared. "By receiving a gift of money, I think you have the opportunity to use it as a lesson in saving/spending money," she notes. "You would likely spend more than $5 on the birthday, and ... it encourages people to attend and not feel like they couldn’t afford to come and celebrate, if finances were a concern."
Given all the potential pros, and minimal cons, more families are jumping on the bandwagon. Malori A. from Peoria, Illinois says that she and her family recently attended a fiver party. "I personally loved it," she tells Parents.com. "It was at the trampoline park, and the parents didn't want to cart 30 gifts home. I gave $15 tho since all three of [my kids] were invited, and that's still getting off super cheap. The girl was saving for an electric scooter, and a few days after her party, her mom sent us a video of her riding it around and saying thank you."
For both parents and kids, fiver parties seem like a real win-win.