Why a 'fiver' party should be your child's next birthday celebration

Children wait before taking a piece of a cake during a birthday party in Ukraine, July 30, 2015. (Reuters)

Trying to live up to the expectations of gift-giving and children’s birthday parties is something many parents can relate to, including Tania Blake.

Throwing a “big elaborate birthday party or a small intimate one” was on the new mother’s mind when recently planning for her son’s first birthday.

“I felt the pressure to host a typical first birthday party complete with a theme, Pinterest-worthy decorations, cake—the whole nine yards,” says Blake. “When really, all my husband and I wanted to do was keep things low key and spend time with our little man, celebrating the fact that we had kept him alive and well for a full year,” she says jokingly.

Blake and her husband ended up throwing a big birthday bash for fear that they would be “terrible parents” if they opted to go for a cheaper, smaller party instead. After the party, they found themselves overflowing with gifts from friends and relatives – more than their son could really appreciate.

“We felt bad that people had spent so much money on items that he’d likely play with for a few months, get bored of and we’d end up donating anyway.”

A “fiver party” could have been the better option for the Blakes, and for many parents struggling with how to handle their child’s birthday.

What is a “fiver” party?

A “fiver party,” gaining popularity after appearing on the blog Nurse Loves Farmer, suggests that parents of guests at the party bring $5 to be put towards a bigger gift for the child-of-honour’s birthday. Instead of imposing big price tags on gifts for birthday parties, “fiver parties” keep the cost low for guests and still contribute to the celebration at large.

Whether parents decide to send invitations by mail or email, the memo to adults states that a suggested $5 contribution is all that’s required, and to forget about those physical gifts.

Why host a “fiver” party?

  • It saves people money and at the same time it lessens the burden of having to ask for presents in the first place. A “fiver party” is practicality at its finest and who doesn’t want to save money?
  • It saves parents from guessing what the birthday child wants, which is particularly handy if your child doesn’t know them that well.
  • By contributing small amounts, a child can then put that money towards the purchase of a bigger gift—one that they actually really desire or need.
  • It saves space. Parents know that after holidays, birthdays and other occasions, presents often end up tucked away in closets or lay around not being used.
  • A “fiver” party can really help families who don’t have a lot of money, as it may help them buy necessities, and allows the child a treat they may want but not otherwise get. With “fiver” parties becoming more common, there’s less of a stigma attached to asking for money instead of a gift.

Go beyond the new toy

Asking guests for a small amount of money instead of a gift also opens up new experiences for your child. While some of the money can go towards a new toy or gadget, parents can also help their child donate to a charity of his choice, or invest the money in her future.

Apps available for both iPhone and Andriod help to make investing for and with your kids even easier, too. SmartMoney, for example, allows parents to put money into their child’s RESP. As they get older, BusyKid could be just the solution needed to motivate kids to get their chores done while also investing in stocks. The app costs $12 a year, and parents can also choose to use Stockpile to further the excitement surrounding stock investments.

While Blake won’t be teaching her son how to invest just yet, she agrees that there’s no harm in children learning how to handle money.

“Anything that encourages financial responsibility at a young age is something I completely support,” says Blake.