I was cleaning up the playroom one day and ended up disgusted over the amount of stuff the girls have. Every holiday brings with it an excuse for people to buy more stuff. The results is that the kids develop the expectation that they should always be receiving presents. I decided I wanted to break this habit, and came up with the idea of a toonie party. Recently a similar concept, the fire party, has gained popularity. However, I’m a bit partial to the toonie party…let me show you why!

Why Have A Toonie Party?

When I asked Kacela what she wanted to do for her 3rd birthday, she replied “eat cake and open presents”. I had to do something. I don’t want to raise posession-centric children. I needed to realign her thinking; a party is for celebrating with friends, not getting presents from them. Simply exchanging the expectation of a gift for the expectation of money wasn’t going to be enough.

Toonie Party vs Fiver Party

The idea behind the fiver party is that each kid brings $5, and the birthday girl or boy then gets to use that money to buy their own present. This eliminates the excessive gift-giving, and makes it less stressful for parents because they don’t have to go out and buy a present, but it still develops an expectation of only receiving. I like my original “toonie party” idea better!

                 twoonies vs 

What’s A Toonie Party?

Instead of a present, each guest is asked to bring a toonie (a $2 coin in Canada!). That’s it. Some guests will put in a couple toonies, or one toonie for each year of the kid’s life, but one toonie is enough.

Half of the money is kept by the birthday girl to buy one special present.

The other half is donated to a cause or charity of her choice. 

For me, this part is key. The receiving is tied to giving, so it’s not all about how much money the birthday girl gets.

The Toonie Party Invitation

“Instead of a gift, please bring a toonie. Half will be used to buy one present of (child’s name)’s choosing, and half will be donated to (chosen cause). Thank you!”

Kid-friendly Charities and Causes

– Food bank
– Homeless shelter
Plan International (school supplies or newborn health check up)
Heifer International (baby chicks or ducklings)

We have sponsor children with Plan Canada so it seemed like the logical organization for our first toonie party. Kacela & I looked through the website and talked about the different options. She choose a newborn health checkup, which she referred to as the “tiny little baby”. Whenever we talked about her birthday party I would excitedly talk about the toonie party, and ask her who she was going to share her money with. The response was always, “the tiny little baby!” As a result she ended up excited about it! She would ask me to pull up the picture on my computer so that she could see the baby. It gave her something to relate to.

We’ve since been fortunate enough to visit our sponsor child in Vietnam, and the girls have been able to witness first-hand where some of their money has gone.

We’ve now had many toonie parties in our household, and have donated to all sorts of charities both local and overseas. As the girls are getting older they’re better able to understand WHY they don’t need presents, and that their gift to another is much better than any pile of presents they’d receive themselves. That being said, we still allow presents from family! I figure a handful of presents from family is easier to deal with than a hoard of presents from friends.

Goodie Bag Ideas For A Toonie Party

I figure that since I’m encouraging our girls to not collect hordes of stuff, it wouldn’t make sense to send their friends home with a bunch of cheap dollar store toys and candy in a goodie bag! We’ve done a variety of different goodie bags over the years, but my favourites are:

– $5 Menchies gift card, because what kid doesn’t like ice cream!
Me-To-We Rafiki bracelets
– Globe-shaped balls (because my kids are slightly obsessed with maps and globes!)
– Mini Lego Sets


What do you think? Have I convinced you that a Toonie Party is a great idea?!