This week I got an emailed invitation to a birthday party for one of Mason's classmates. The email came via ECHOage, a website that was created by two moms who thought there was a better way to celebrate birthdays.
Here's what the site says about itself:
ECHOage is a online birthday party service where children learn the value of giving and receiving while celebrating. No matter what your child’s party theme or venue, you can easily ECHOage ANY party.
Step #1. Choose an invitation, select a cause and invite your guests.
Step #2. Guests RSVP and contribute [via online credit card payments] and you get to watch the giving grow on your ECHOage Tracker.
Step #3. When your party is over, you get half the funds in the mail from ECHOage to purchase any birthday gift you wish to have AND you donate the other half to a charity of your choice.
Easy on guests, meaningful for kids and fun for everyone!There are lots of things I like about this idea. First, it's super-environmentally friendly. No invitations, no wrapping paper or toy packaging to throw away. Second, as soon as I sent my RSVP and contributed to the party online I received a certificate for Mason via email thanking him for making a difference so I can explain, as well as I can to a 3 year old, that part of his present to Andreas is to help other people. Third, a straight donation makes gift-giving easy and takes away the 'What should I get'? that I find plagues me every time I have to make the decision for a little person other than my own. Lastly, and this is the most reason in my opinion, I throw birthdays for my kids to celebrate how special and important they are to me, not for them to get presents. In fact, every invitation I've ever sent out requested 'Best Wishes Only' but we have unbelievably generous friends and family and they never come empty-handed. Using ECHOage, we would be able to donate half of that generosity to a worthy cause and I love that, because I want birthdays to be about the celebration of the individual, not about what they get from people.
As for the other half of the contributions that are mailed to us, I think I would put it into a savings account either for university or to help my kids buy their first home. But that's just me :)
Want to ECHOage your next birthday party, here's a link to their website.
Have a great weekend!