Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Different Kind of Birthday Party

Carter and Nolan turned 2 on February 3rd!  I'm a little behind but want to share our celebration!

I have written a separate post all about the party details, here, but first I have to tell you about the type of party we had.

I didn't really even think about plans for their party until mid January.  I started google searching ideas for inexpensive, low stress, go green types of parties.  I'm just not cut out for some of these over the top parties for two year olds!  We also just had Christmas and the idea of more toys taking over our house didn't sound appealing to me (although I'm sure it would sound great to the boys!) 

So I came across  I loved it at first read! Though I ended up reading lots about it to be sure it was credible.

It works like an evite.  When guests get the invitation, they rsvp and are encouraged to contribute any amount of money.  They don't have to contribute anything.  Half goes to the charity you choose and half comes as a check to you to buy a single gift for the child.  The idea behind it is to teach children about giving while still celebrating the special day.  The gift is from everyone at the party and can be something big rather than lots of small gifts.

Our kids are a little too young to get the whole giving thing, in this scenario anyway.  But I loved a lot of things about having an echoage party:
  • Keep gifts to a minimum and truly just celebrate the day.  Especially just following Christmas.
  • Avoid so much wrapping paper waste by only having two gifts, one for each. Again, especially just following Christmas!  I would have loved to really go green with the party but that is REALLY tough if want to decorate at all! More about that in another post, though.
  • Avoid getting many, many gifts that the boys may play with for a week and never again (not to say that the gifts are bad but that my kids are age two and that's how they play with toys...for a week then never again! unless I hide them and we pretend like they are new a while later).  There are always things we want for the boys or things they need but we'll typically just go buy them unless someone specifically asks what to get them as a gift.
  • Save guests time and possibly money by not having to shop for a gift. (Although I felt like people contributed a lot)
  • Make people feel good for the donation.  Giving feels good.

Things I did not love:
  • Echoage charges a percentage to use their site, to fund it.  That's fine. I get it...just don't love it.
  • The invitation doesn't give enough information to people who are unfamiliar with the process and there is not free space in the invite for you to add your own two cents.  We didn't like the idea of requesting money from people and so to make up for all of that we sent an email along with the invite to explain our purpose to the guests.
  • The site gives info indicating that you will not buy your child's gift until after the party, when the check comes in the mail. We, and I would assume lots of families, want their kids to open some present for their birthdays so we bought ours ahead of time and presented them at the party so everyone could see what they contributed to!
  • Echoage needs more charity choices. You can request that they add a specific charity but that takes time.

We tried this out with an open mind. We wanted to see how it went.  Overall, I was pretty happy with it and would do it again or continue to search for something similar.  I did come across a couple other neat ideas for ways to give or minimize gifts at birthday parties.
  • Ask everyone to bring a book and donate them all.
  • Ask everyone to bring one toy they no longer play with and do an exchange so everyone leaves with something "new."
I'm sure there are more ideas out there!

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