Teaching Jane the Value of a Dollar (or 75)

Jane is invited to a birthday party at Sephora. Well, we think she’s invited, I don’t have the evite, but the host child assures her I need to RSVP. The girls will be getting makeovers and whatnot. It’s a very nice but fairly typical birthday party so I was going to buy my fairly typical birthday gift which puts us close to $40 with card and gift wrap.

Since I’m off to Chicago tomorrow morning I need to buy the gift today and Jane has instructed me to purchase about $75 worth of cosmetics for the 13 year old birthday girl. I started to say no, but since we were on the way to school I didn’t want her going to class upset. I figure she’ll just have to be upset at home.

I want to explain to her that every birthday party is pricey. We spent a fortune on her 13th but the gifts were in line with what I’m prepared to spend. I thought about telling her to spend her own money, but I don’t want her feeling like she has to overspend.

We’ve done a miserable job showing restraint for our own kids. Birthdays and Hanukkah always seem to creep up to a thousand. After 13 years of excessive gifts for my own kids how do I turn around and tell Jane that it’s just not like that?

I guess I just do. I’m not shelling out $75 for a birthday party and I’m not prepared to let my daughter use her money.

What would you do… besides turn back time?

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8 Comments

  1. I’m just starting out as a parent so I have absolutely no business giving you advice, but the question interested me.  I think making her use her own money (if she won’t agree with your budget) is the only way she will learn. At least that was the case for me. I had no concept of what it took for my parents to provide what they did until I had to do it for myself. Is she prepared to spend $75 on every friend’s birthday, since girls always compare? Does she realize that not everyone can spend that much, and they might feel like their gifts are inadequate compared to hers? Would she want to make her friends feel like they need to spend that same amount on her, even if they don’t have the money? There’s so much more to gift-giving than “can I afford it?”  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with immediate family lavishing their loved ones with gifts. But that’s family. Wanting to provide that same experience for her friend is sweet of her, but not her responsibility.

    • and interestingly Jane’s absolute favorite gift from her 13th was a posterboard her friend made her with pictures of the two of them. 

  2. I don’t see a correlation between your spending on gifts for your kids for birthday and Hanukkah with spending too much on a birthday gift for a friend. I’m assuming you don’t “lavish” your friends with inappropriately expensive birthday gifts. Jane is generous, it seems, and it’s sweet she wants to give her friend a nice gift. Nothing wrong with telling her it’s out of proportion and, honestly, a little tacky to overspend on a gift which will be opened in front of everyone.

  3. Hmm, maybe Jane is excited by the idea of a bday party at Sephora and it seems like an extra-special occasion to her? I’m wondering where she got that number though? Like, do you think the bday girl let it be known that she was expecting a certain level of gifting? $75 is def beyond what I’d be willing to spend (or have her spend $$ on); I think you can just flatly say that it’s too over the top. I’ll be interested to hear how you handle it.

  4. Green

    By the time I was Jane’s age, all the kids pretty much paid for whatever presents they wanted to give their friends. Obviously bat mitzvahs got a bump in cost from parents, but for regular birthdays? You get a card, a keychain or something, some gum, and a cute little bracelet or whatever from Claires, all paid for with babysitting money. As long as she’s genuinely capable of earning some of her own money (or saving allowance that she gets) it seems totally reasonable to tell her from now on you and Mr. G are only prepared to spend $30 on friend-presents, and if she wants to spend more she’ll have to make up the difference.

  5. I just posted something on Kids Birthday Bashes…my feeling is that kids should celebrate their birthdays but they should maybe consider having a party with no gifts and perhaps think about a charity that they would like to support.
    Birthday parties have really gotten out of hand when it comes to gifts…I hated them as a parent and I hate them as a grandparent especially when it comes to the pricey gifts…most of these kids have or get the things they really want or need.
    My feeling is start at an early age to limit gifts and give something to a needy cause like Toys for Tots…Diapers to “Every Little Bottom” whatever and have a party as the gift.
    Have a great trip to Chicago…we are expecting snow…7-11 inches bring boots and warm clothes…7 degrees this morning 20 this afternoon.

  6. Wow!  $75.00 at Sephora.  That is crazy.  I wish I could have a birthday party at Sephora where my friends bought me 75.00 worth of cosmetics.  You have just freaked me out about what is to come for my girls.

  7. Anonymous

    Why don’t you ask Jane what she wants to buy for her friend?  If there are several items, maybe she would be willing to drop a few and put it back in the ball park.  Good luck!

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