Do you love throwing fabulous Pinterest-worthy parties for your kids? Or maybe you don’t, but you still end up throwing something together. Think about all the time and effort you put into making your kid’s birthday party perfect every year. Whether you’ve been planning it for months or hours, you stress. They have fun (usually). Then it’s over. And what are you left with? (This post contains affiliate links.)
Not only do you have a big mess to clean up, but now you have to find a place to put all the new crap. *Cough cough* I mean, toys. No disrespect to the people that picked these gifts out. Really, how are they supposed to know exactly what a 5 year old girl, who already has EVERYTHING, would want?
Yes, there are usually a couple of thoughtful presents. And that new plastic Barbie set is bound to become a new favorite toy for a while. But I am just as guilty as the next parent of running by Target on the way to the party, and hoping I don’t grab the same gift that someone else does, without putting too much thought in.
How We Came to Throw an Animal Shelter Donation Party
It was really the overflow of toys in general that got me thinking of the No Gift Birthday Party almost exactly a year ago. Luckily my daughter was/is way into cute little dogs, cats, and animals alike. So when I suggested we do a donation party for her next birthday, she was 100% on board.
The idea of not getting birthday presents from her friends didn’t phase her one bit. She didn’t take any convincing at all, and got way into the theme right away. She held on to the idea all year, and when her birthday started approaching this year, she was even more excited to be providing food, toys, and accessories to animals in need.
What is an Animal Shelter Donation Party?
I debated over a couple different options for the party. I thought about requesting no gifts on the invitation, and asking for people to donate to a charity instead. But then I wondered if people would really do that.
It also seems like there’s a fundamental need for people to bring physical gifts to a child’s birthday party, which made me think that plan might backfire, and people would feel guilty for showing up empty handed. Then they would likely end up bringing something just to bring something.
Then I realized, what if we asked people to bring presents… just not presents for the birthday girl. We would ask people to bring presents for the birthday girl to bring to the animal shelter. Not only that, we could list exactly what the shelter was looking for. That means no more anxious guessing game of “gee my kids aren’t that age yet so I have no idea what to buy”, or “damn it’s been so long since my kids were that young, I have no idea what to buy.”
We even specified which shelter we would be donating to on the invitation, and some folks gave checks as well as bringing gifts. I checked the shelter’s website to see what they needed, then listed that on the invitation. I figured it was all easy enough to get from Amazon for those like me that have a hard time getting to an actual store (other than Target on the way to the party).
It worked like a charm. Everyone really stepped up to the plate and brought a ton of great things to donate.
It was a lot of fun coming up with the food for the party.
The “Hot Dog Bar” had options of chili cheese, spinach and artichoke with feta, kimchi, sweet and sour pickled carrots with cilantro, and all the classic condiments as well.
We put Puppy Chow, cubed cheese, and turkey sausage “liver treats” in new pet food bowls that we then donated after the party.
Mini bagel bites became “Pup-eroni Pizza”. And we also had “Paw-pcorn”, goldfish for “Meow-Mix”, and pink “Pup-Cakes”.
I got these cute chalkboard arrows and chalk pens from Target to let guests know where to put their donations. Our wagon was the perfect thing to contain everything.
The final touch was the “Adoption” area as the party favors. We got some assorted plush dogs and cats for the kids to take home as party favors. I also found these cute bracelets for the kids that they could also use as collars for their newly adopted pets. And then, my daughter insisted we get these animal finger puppets as well.
All in all, this was an extremely easy party to throw. Can you imagine if we ALL threw one donation party a year… Or even every few years? I would imagine we could make a big impact.
Almost as important as the actual donations, are the values this kind of party instills into the kids. It literally brought tears to my eyes to see how excited my little girl was to bring all these donations to the shelter. Not once did she ask about getting presents for herself instead of donations.
If we can do it, you can do it!
Here are some other awesome party ideas!