Last year for my daughter, Annie’s 4th birthday she decided to have a splash and play party at the house and invite all of the kids in her preschool class. We planned out where to put the little blow up pool, bought balloons, a piñata and face paints so there’d be lots of fun activities, and ordered the pizza. Annie decided that she wanted a giant chocolate cookie instead of a cake, so I figured out how to make one (turns out the trick is baking it on parchment paper).

Annie Give Back Party

The only thing I struggled with having a big party was that I really did not want her to receive 20 presents. We’re very fortunate and she just did not need that many presents. But, people really like to bring gifts to birthday parties. Hmm, what to do instead?

We’d been going to the Inside Out Club weekend events (formerly I Support Community Kids Crew) where she’d learned about a lot of local charities, so I suggested asking people to bring presents for the “doggies and kitties” at the Naperville Area Humane Society instead of gifts for her. She liked the idea, especially after I explained that she’d still get gifts from her family and how happy she’d make the “doggies and kitties.”

Give Back Gifts for Shelter

After her birthday I made a big deal about all the items she had collected and we took it to the Humane Society together. I could see that she felt proud, and I was proud of her.

I think the key is to find something that excites your child.

Here are 10 give-back gift ideas to help a local charity:

  1. Cans/Boxes of Food: delivered to your local food pantries or shelters
  2. Diapers: many food pantries, parent resource centers, women’s shelters
  3. Office Supplies: every charity needs office supplies
  4. Kitty Litter / Dog Toys: local animal shelter
  5. Books: local literacy programs, schools, and church libraries
  6. Make-up: battered women’s shelters
  7. Gift Cards from Target/Whole Foods/Wal-Mart: homeless and battered women shelters
  8. Socks, Dr. Scholes Inserts, Foot Powder: homeless shelters
  9. School Supplies: local schools and shelters
  10. Winter Coats/ Mittens/Gloves: shelters and local schools

What other “give-back” gift ideas do you know? Have you tried a “give-back” birthday party before? Please share your ideas and experiences below in the comments.

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