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Do you like the concept of return gifts for children’s birthday parties?
Honestly, I don’t. When I was a kid there was no such practice of return gifts for birthday parties. And even though I really feel ancient now, it’s the 90s I’m talking about. So, how come things have changed so much now? Or, were we in the small towns lucky to have been shielded from these trends?
I remember we used to attend birthday parties without expecting gifts in return. In fact, birthday parties were for catching up with friends and having a good time while gorging on delicious food. Return gifts were hardly worth any consideration to us. In fact, I first learnt about it after having moved to the city. Yes, we did take presents for our friends but that was not with the expectation of being given something in return. But nowadays there are hardly any birthday parties without return gifts. It has now become a norm and often linked to the parents’ status and standing in the society. And to be honest with you, it’s not the right message we are sending our kids. I don’t like this one bit.
Don’t you think that with these practices we are teaching our kids that if we give a gift to someone we should always expect something in return? That joy of giving is being marred with the subconscious want of a gift in exchange. It has become a barter system.
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If you ask me, we are doing to birthdays what we have already done to weddings. A few years back one of my friends who was about to get married ended up exhausted with the long list of gifts they had to give to those attending the wedding and the relatives on both sides. An added pressure and not to mention an added financial burden especially when it comes to weddings.
Don’t you think that with these practices of return gifts we are teaching our kids that if we give a gift to someone we should always expect something in return?
The Great Indian Wedding is already an outrageous display of grandeur, an exhibition of status with the joining of two souls shoved right at the end of the priority list. As if that was not enough that we are now conditioning small kids to grow up thinking it’s not a good birthday party if they come back without gifts. We are making them believe that you cannot have a birthday party without giving back something. That somehow it’s a shame to have no return gifts on their birthdays.
I think it has more to do with parents. If you ask me, I’d love a birthday party with no gifts exchanged. But I know that is perhaps not right. A kid deserves to get presents on his or her birthday but we need to teach our kids attending these birthday parties that return gifts are not necessary. In fact, if anything, the latter is unnecessary. And if we want to give back anything for the gifts that our kids receive on their birthdays we can do that later on occasions that demand the same.
I haven’t had a party on M’s birthday yet. Last year we were off to Goa to celebrate her first birthday, just the three of us. This year will be her second and we plan to have a celebration at home with close family members only. But when she grows up and asks for a party, I’ll definitely arrange one for her but with no return gifts. And will try to ensure that she politely declines any return gifts for parties she attends. Of course, only time will tell how successful I’ll be. But I can at least try?
Am I wrong in thinking this? Doesn’t the whole idea of return gifts speak of a give and take transaction which shouldn’t be something we end up teaching our kids?
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