The giftless birthday party is gaining popularity. That's right. Parents request that guests donate to a charity in lieu of giving a present.
I can understand why a parent would adopt this approach. Birthday parties have clearly become excessive. And beyond that, society itself is wealthy compared to when I grew up. The cars and houses are bigger; there are more toys and baby gear; there are hundreds of television channels; children are expected to own a cell phone, etc. My unsupported theory is that extreme material wealth distracts from spirituality and things that really matter. Compare todays younger generation to that of the 60s. Where's the rebellion? Does the younger generation even care about the war in Iraq? And what's happened to rock music? It's become watered down and meaningless. It's like today's younger generation is missing a soul. Perhaps, they're in a videogame-induced malaise or something.
On the other hand, birthday gifts themselves are not per se excessive. I'm personally inclined to reject the giftless birthday party for that reason. But I will look for other ways of rejecting extreme materialism and imparting spirituality and a strong sense of values onto my children.