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The “gift fund” envelope for children's birthdays (and say no to consumerism)

Jun 6, 2019

I’ve never been a gift fanatic. I like birthdays, I like giving a gift if I know it’s just perfect, I like the detail of a candle to celebrate a special day together, I really like the Montessori birthday where children hold a globe and walk around a candle that represents the sun as many times as the number of their years.

I like the meaning. I think that’s the real gift.

After Oliver’s second birthday, when we had a simple party in the park and received so many gifts that we unwrapped packages for months (because I put them away and gave them to him little by little), I decided that this gift business is not for me. I don’t find it healthy for the children or correct for parents, and I think it takes away the attention from what really matters: getting together to celebrate a special day.

My personal solution was the "gift fund" envelope

In the last two years, in the birthday invitation message I asked people NOT to come with gifts, explaining that I will provide an envelope at the party where whoever wants can put a small (anonymous) contribution towards a single gift.

What’s funny is that the other moms at Oliver’s Montessori school (who share our same values) loved the idea so much that since then I haven’t bought a single birthday gift: the “gift fund” envelope has become a must at birthday parties!

It’s less consumeristic, more eco-friendly because you avoid wrapping paper, children concentrate on the occasion and the company instead of the gifts… it’s a healthier message altogether. And I like that it “maximizes” the memory: when you turned three your friends gave you a teepee, when you turned four your friends gave you your first Legos…

Examples of request for the "gift fund"

  • This is what I wrote this year for Oliver’s fourth birthday.

“Every year, we do just one gift for Oliver’s birthday: Alex and I buy it and give it to Oliver at his party on behalf of all his friends. That’s why we kindly ask you to come without gifts: each family can decide to chip in the group gift with a small contribution (I’ll have an envelope ready at the party), but it’s really not necessary.

This year, when we asked Oliver what he’d like, he said a Mickey Mouse hat :-) So that’s what we’re getting him as a family present in the morning.

For the group gift, we thought long and hard to find a suitable present for traveling (as you might already know, we’re leaving in June to travel the world) and as Oliver (and Emily) loves Duplos, we decided to upgrade him to LEGOs: Duplos have been a life savior in every travel so far, and the LEGO size will be a lot more travel-friendly. We’re sure he’ll love it, and he’ll be able to take his friends’ gift with him 💕 Hope you all like the idea”.

  • Another mom wrote a simpler version.

“We would like her to have only one gift from his friends to avoid overload. The gift will be X. There is no need to pay anything, but if you like to contribute, you can of course. Thank you for your understanding”.

  • Another mom wrote an even simpler version, just a sentence in the message.

“No 🎁 please. If you want, you can chip in to buy him a wooden house for the garden”.

What do you think? How do you handle birthday gifts in your house?

Some photos from Oliver’s day

We celebrated his birthday at Bubble Marbella, which was just perfect as the kids had outdoor and indoor areas, they played, they danced, they cooked (the cooking class is one of Oliver’s favorite so we had that on his birthday and all the children made cookies to then bring home as party favors!), they blew candles! And Oliver got his first Legos… which he loved, as you can see from his face in the picture!

Tell me what you think

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The blog

I write mainly about Montessori, parenthood, and multilingualism. Here are some recent posts.

Montessori
One day a few years ago my husband came home and said, "Why don't we put a mattress on the floor in the baby room? It'd be much more natural". "Never" was my reply. That's how our Montessori journey started. Since then we've been living, breathing and applying the philosophy at home day in and day out, starting from ourselves. Because educating children starts from the parents.
Bean and seed mosaic
I'm not perfect. I'm aware
DIY yoga cards for kids
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Don't ask your children to share their toys
Those "good job" that erode our children's confidence
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Two alternatives to screens that my kids love
Using fear and threats to control children is never right!
"Stop crying!" doesn't work
Living sustainably
Living sustainably for me doesn’t only mean to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It means to make decisions that are sustainable for our planet, the people on it, but also for our life, our lifestyle, and our happiness. It means to take any daily chance to evolve and be happier, healthier, kinder, more responsible and more caring human beings—the only sustainable way for a meaningful future.
Face yoga is an act of self love
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Responsible eating is the diet of the future (Would you like to teach it to your kids?)
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Infographic: 8 steps to switch to cloth nappies (a guide for reluctant parents)
A personal note on happiness
A personal note on social media
A change of life always widens your horizons
New to La Tela?
I’ve prepared collections on various topics that I’ve written over the years. Perhaps you’ll find one that interests you.

Travel

We sold everything to travel the world for two years. We're currently in New Zealand.

Books

In 2020 I wrote 4 books for the Italian collection “Gioca and Impara con il metodo Montessori” curated by Grazia Honegger Fresco. The collection is a project by Il Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta dello Sport.

We also implemented the workshops of the last 15 volumes of the collection with Oliver and Emily.

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On my podcast, “Educare con calma”, I talk about various topics, from Montessori to sustainability. Only in Italian!

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Why La Tela di Carlotta?
I dreamed of the name La Tela di Carlotta. One morning I woke up and in my dreams I had created a blog named just like the American novel (Charlotte's Web). Many years and endless ups and downs later, this web of thoughts and stories is my work. It took me a long time to understand what kind of online presence I wanted and today I know: I'm transparent, I show real life, I don't advertise, I only recommend sustainable brands (and not only because they pay me) and I believe in the value of my blog and my courses—because if we don't believe in the value of our work, no one will believe in it for us.
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