Recently, my daughter gave her birthday away–forgoing a party with gifts for herself to instead having a party that actually collected money for the ministry of 147 Million Orphans. This was a very big deal, as you can imagine, and with the party, I wanted to be very careful that I didn’t make her feel like she had to do this. My goal was simply to plant the seed and let her make her own choice of if she would like to “give her birthday away.”
147 Million Orphans encourages people to “give your birthday away” and ask your family and friends to donate to the ministry of 147 Million Orphans in lieu of gifts. The birthday donations are then used to provide food, water, and medicine to children in need. Learn more.
Now, of course, while she didn’t get presents from her friends at her party, she did get presents from her family. (Read about our tradition of Birthday Week.) She’s 8 years old. I wanted to encourage her to be generous and to see giving her birthday away as something fun and even exciting. In passing this idea along to you, I do so because I know the earlier you plant those seeds of generosity and compassion in your kids, the more likely they are to grow. (Kids really aren’t as materialistic as we adults are.) Now, I didn’t know how my daughter would respond when I presented the idea to her. She’s a sweet girl, but I wanted her to make the decision. And I would add here that if you try this, be careful to show unconditional love no matter what your child decides. You never want anyone of any age to feel guilted into giving. We give out of love and grace. But she embraced the whole concept.
In choosing the dollar amount that would be her goal, I gave her some different amounts and encouraged her to pray and think about it. She struggled between $500 and $1000, but she landed on a goal of $500.
A word of caution here: As she received her birthday cards and opened them, I would quickly remove the money (cash and checks) that people were giving. I didn’t want her to identify people with the amounts that they gave, thinking more of the people who gave more. That’s not what giving is about.
We went all out with the party and invited a lot more people than we typically would for a child’s birthday party. We invited her teachers and other “spiritual moms” in her life. I loved how they spoke blessings over her and really affirmed her decision to give her birthday away. Here are some of the fun activities that we did.
Made cards. I set up a table in the shade with paper, pens, stickers, and scrapbooking supplies. For over an hour, the kids sat and talked and made cards to send to the orphans.
Played games. We played games including Duck, Duck, Goose and Shark and Minnows.
Water balloons. We finished up with a couple hundred water balloons. The kids chased my husband Bradford around the yard pelting him with the water balloons. (He gets the Fun Dad Award!)
At the end of the party, we announced the grand total that was collected for 147 Million Orphans: $650! Everyone was cheering and excited about her reaching her goals!
This was a great way to give my daughter a world vision and a focus on giving to others. I’m pretty sure it will be a birthday that she remembers for the rest of her life.
Would you ever consider giving your birthday away? What are some ideas you have used to help your kids get a bigger view of the world around them?