I love hosting birthday parties for my kids and coming up with different ways to cover all the traditional basics while also making it unique and fun for everyone – including me! One thing that I always forget about is that the birthday kid will receive presents. Don’t get me wrong – this is wonderful and certainly the part that every kid looks forward to – but what to do with the additional ‘bits’?
Let’s get down to brass tacks here: I am interested in reducing the amount of ‘stuff’ that comes in to our house that will only have short-term appeal but that will have long-term landfill repercussions. I would like to teach my kids to ‘want’ less.
And most gifts that kids receive at their birthday party goes totally against this philosophy.
I have not banned all plastic and all pink for my girls but I do feel that if it’s going to be pink and plastic, then it needs to be something that will be well loved, played with – and taken care of – for years (not weeks!).
There is a solution. Patchwork Present is website designed for any gift giving occasion that lets friends come together to fund one thing that’s really wanted — piece by piece. This can be anything from a big ticket gift item to an experience, to the fridge magnet you buy after completing said experience.
Founder Olivia Knight came up with the idea when she was planning her own wedding. She created a patchwork image representing the honeymoon they were planning. Friends and family could click on an individual element of the patchwork and buy it as their gift. n their case, these consisted of simple things like a night in a hotel, a couple of beers in a bar or an unromantic dinner for four. As Knight’s nan pointed out to her, “It’s not a new idea. It’s a whip-round, love” — and she’s right but it is much more organised and also individual to the gift giver and receiver.
Can it sort out my child birthday present quandary? Absolutely. It will just take some forward thinking, planning and a slightly awkward request to the parents of my child’s friends. I’m sure some people will find my request to club together to fund something a little rude at first. Once they’ve thought about it, they’ll realise that they are going to spend less money, avoid a rush to the shops for a gift and the quest for some sort of wrapping/presentation method. It’s better all around.
You could also introduce a charity element to your child. It might be difficult for them to understand giving a percentage of their birthday present to a charity but there might a fundraising project that means something to them, personally. A four year old might not be ready for this concept but you never know and it’s something to build on.
How does it work? You can build a present using your social media accounts, so that the site can access your contacts. You can use a database of ready-made patchworks as a basis for ideas and then customise for your own individual present. Or, you can create an entirely new patchwork. Once you have built your patchwork and are ready to fund it, you simply link it to your PayPal account and publicise it.
You will give your friends a URL to access the present. They can choose which aspect of the present they would like to fund, add it to their shopping cart as proceed as with any other online shopping experience. This is free to set up and Patchwork Present will take a 3% commission from each of your friends’ contributions as payment for the use of their service.
Patchwork Present is a collective and resourceful way to raise money for a much-wanted gift. But it also offers a truly personal, creative and rewarding experience for both those giving and receiving — not only more efficient but more fun than throwing some cash in a hat.