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Plan a Birthday Party That Gives Back 33898

I've got birthdays on the brain. My birthday is tomorrow, October 1st, and most of my closest friends have birthdays between mid-September and mid-October. It's a busy time of year - but in the best way possible!

Part of the fun of birthday parties is that when you have one day per year to celebrate your child, there really aren't any restrictions. You can pick a theme, no matter how quirky, and run with it! Each month we feature a reader's birthday party in the magazine and they're all tailored around what the kid adores. One boy we featured had an office-supply-themed birthday party! How clever is his mom?!

Making your kid feel like a million bucks on their birthday is fulfilling, for sure. But what if you could turn your child's special day into an event that celebrates your child while giving to another person who is less fortunate?

ECHOage, a party planning site for moms by moms, does just that. Parents and their kids decide what gift the kid wants and then what charity to partner with, and then create an e-invite on ECHOage.com. Guests then give a monetary donation as a gift, with 50 percent going towards the child's present and the other 50 percent going towards the charity. Pretty cool, right?

Not only does ECHOage make celebrating birthdays easier for everyone attending the party (no gift shopping or wrapping), but it also teaches your child the priceless lesson of giving back.

Since my birthday is tomorrow, I was thinking about what I'd do if I planned a party with ECHOage. The site has over 250 charities to choose from and I know that narrowing down the organizations to find the perfect one is tricky -- there are so many causes near and dear to my heart. But since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I'd choose the Susan G. Komen Foundation. About three years ago I lost my lovely Aunt Cathy Hughes to a long battle with breast cancer. During the last years of her life, she put a lot of thought into the gifts she gave to her friends and family. One of the last gifts she gave me was Giving by Bill Clinton, along with a note about the importance of the book's message -- one that we all need to pass on to our future generations.

Which charity would your child choose? Tell me in the comments.