Why I’m Not Buying My Son Toys For His Birthday

September 23, 2015

In just three short weeks, my baby boy will celebrate his third birthday. Party planning is well under way but I’ve been struggling to think of a great gift idea for him. Part of me almost wasn’t going to plan a birthday party in the first place because the thought of a house small condo full of three year olds did not appeal to me. Neither did paying a couple hundred bucks to rent a facility. That was until Liam so sweetly requested a cowboy birthday party and I was hit with a brilliant idea.


Instead of throwing a big birthday party, with decorations, food, activities, etc and then buying him more toys, I decided to turn his party into the gift. I will be taking him and two or three friends to a local ranch for a pony rides. The experience includes helping groom the horses and prepare the tack before going for their ride. He will invite a couple of his ‘very best’ friends along for the morning and we will celebrate with cupcakes and pizza. I know my horse loving boy is going to have a blast.

Experiences always leave lasting memories where toys are almost always forgotten. I couldn’t tell you what gifts I received for my sixth birthday but I will never forget the excitement of our family dog giving birthday to a litter of puppies the day of my birthday party. Or the year my parents sponsored a baby gorilla and orangutan in my name. Or the year I received concert tickets to see Gwen Stefani, my childhood idol.

Seeing Liam’s reaction when we get to share experiences together trumps watching him open new toys that he will only toss aside after the gift opening excitement dies down. Watching him this past weekend at the Bubble Guppies live show, with wonder in his eyes, is something I will likely never forget. As much as the experiences are for him, I know they are just as big for me too.

experiences vs things-2

Instead of buying Liam toys this year for his birthday, I want to focus on the experience he will get to be a part of. I hope that as he grows up, he can learn to value new experiences rather than always wanting more ‘stuff’ that doesn’t serve us and clutters our lives.

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  • Reply
    September 23, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    YES!! we aren’t getting Scarlett anything big for her birthday and I’m not throwing a party for her, it’ll be too close to when the baby comes and I just don’t want to deal with planning a party or clean up afterwards. We got tickets to bubble guppies and I plan on just doing something special on her actual birthday. She keeps asking to go get her nails painted and having a tea party so I’m sure that’s exactly what we will do with her 🙂 experiences always trump things in my books!

    • Reply
      September 24, 2015 at 6:43 am

      She will love that so much! It’s great because at this age they don’t know that they are ‘supposed to’ get toys and junk!

  • Reply
    Brie @ A Slice of Brie
    September 23, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    Love, love, love this! And I so agree! I also wish I was one of Liam’s ‘very best’ friends because this “party” sounds awesome and amazing! (Haha, I meant that in the most non-creepiest way ever!) You are such a great mom and yes, these wonderful memories will stick with Liam throughout his life, not the toys he will bore of. I did the same at Christmas time – asked people not to buy toys, as we didn’t need anything and the same with Sully’s first birthday – I asked people to buy a book in lieu of a card AND a gift and most people actually listened!

    • Reply
      September 24, 2015 at 6:43 am

      Ahahaha you make me laugh! You’re welcome to come!

      I love the idea of a book instead of a card.

  • Reply
    Janelle @ Wholly Healthy
    September 24, 2015 at 2:04 am

    I think this is a great idea – something he’ll totally remember (though how will you top it next year, haha)!

    • Reply
      September 24, 2015 at 6:42 am

      Haha I don’t have to top it next year – it will just be a new, fun experience to plan.

  • Reply
    September 24, 2015 at 6:00 am

    Exactly!! We have so much junk around our house that she doesn’t even play with that i don’t even want to bother! I want Palmer to remember the moments and not things too! She will still talk about getting her toes painted with Scarlett or going to the petting zoo and right now, at almost 3,
    They don’t know the difference between having a party or not!

    Also, glad to know Liam loves bubble
    Guppies! I’ve been on the fence about tickets but I think I
    Going to bite the bullet and get some. I know she will love it!

    • Reply
      September 24, 2015 at 6:41 am

      Palmer will love Bubble Guppies! I bought tickets forever ago even though Liam doesn’t watch it much anymore. I wasn’t sure what he would think but he still had a blast.

  • Reply
    September 24, 2015 at 9:26 am

    This is a fantastic idea. In fact, I LOVE LOVE horses too….can I come? He will have these memories for years. It actually might be the ones that he remembers first or strongest.

    Love it!

    • Reply
      September 24, 2015 at 6:10 pm

      Absolutely you can come!!

      I’m actually really surprised he remembers his cupcakes from last year’s birthday party!

  • Reply
    September 24, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Couldn’t agree more…besides, kids already get too much stuff from grandparents and aunts and uncles anyway! I love the idea of giving experiences instead of things, and I’m sure Liam will love actually getting to BE a cowboy for a day! Great idea!

    • Reply
      September 24, 2015 at 6:11 pm

      Yes exactly. There are enough people that will buy him gifts that one less useless toy won’t make a difference. But how great would it be to get more family and friends on board so we can have MORE experiences together!

  • Reply
    September 24, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    This is great. Thinking back I can’t hardly remember any birthday presents I received growing up but I know what we DID every year. I’ve just been trying to decide what/if I’ll get my daughter for her 2nd birthday coming up in November. Pony rides with BFFs sounds pretty great. I’d kinda like to do that for MY next birthday.

  • Reply
    September 24, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    What a great idea! I have a feeling he is going to absolutely love it!

  • Reply
    September 28, 2015 at 10:41 am

    This is great! I love this. He will have such a blast!! Can’t wait to read all about it!!

  • Reply
    October 27, 2015 at 7:55 am

    Okay so I am now JUST catching up on reading your blog (SORRY!) and I love this idea. It sounds like it was such a fun day for you guys!

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