Birthday Presents: Why I Agree With Myleene Klass

I've followed Myleene Klass on twitter and Instagram for quite a while now, and her no nonsense photos and tweets make me chuckle. Yes, she's a very glamorous lady with an enviable figure and a celebrity lifestyle, but she's also a mum who seems not afraid to call a spade a spade. Something I admire in people.

So when I saw this tweet from her the other day containing a screenshot of an email from schoolmums requesting money as a present for one of her daughter's classmates' birthday party, I was shocked. Apparently the two birthday girls would like a Kindle and a writing desk ("both educational") so money to purchase these would be greatly appreciated.

Myleene's reply was spot-on, telling the original senders that they should contribute to her daughter's desired present of a unicorn and that they could donate at www.getwhatyouregivenandendthismadness.com.

When on Earth did it become socially acceptable to email people that you don't really know requesting money for your child's birthday present? When did it become ok to presume that the attendee would even give a present?! Of course it is polite to give the birthday girl/boy a small present as a token, but don't presume! And don't email around the class telling people that's what is going to happen.

Last year The Boy had a joint birthday party with his then best friend. Born 12 hours apart, they attended the same school although the boys were in separate classes in the year group. The other mum and I had been chatting several months before and discovered that we had both intended to have a party for our boys at the same venue on the same day, and therefore decided it would be easier to share the cost and effort. That way we'd be inviting all 36 children in the year group as the boys would invite the children in their own class to the joint party (only 25 came).

Of course what I didn't take into account was that parents would feel obliged to buy for both boys, at the time I assumed they'd just buy for the classmate who had invited them. In hindsight, I actually wish I'd asked for no presents as I feel terrible that parents had to find the money to give to both. Most presents that The Boy received were between the £5-10 monetary value mark and were spot on for him; he enjoyed every single present, but I was shocked at the generosity. I also felt embarrassed to have put parents in that situation, especially when one child gave both of the boys a £20 Toys R Us voucher each! The most appreciated present he had was a pack of Top Trumps, which I consider to be most appropriate for a classmate's party; under £5.00 and a small token for the birthday boy.

It's rude to ask for money in the first place, isn't that called begging? With people that you don't really know it's crass and lacks class. Presents should be personal, they should show that the giver has sat down and thought long and hard about what that person likes and would truly appreciate. Vouchers and money have never been a present that I've been comfortable giving, and neither do I particularly like receiving them; in the past I've actually found it hurtful (depending upon the giver) that they knew me so little to not be able to find something for me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not completely adverse to it should occasion demand, as in the past the family has got together and bought joint presents for family members, but that was appropriate for siblings and parents.

However with regards to the original story, don't even get me started on the fact that classmates were being asked to buy such an expensive present! If her friends were buying a Kindle or writing desk, what on Earth would the child receive from her parents?! Surely that's a large present that is given by a family member?

Myleene was right to 'call out' these near-total strangers for their inappropriate behaviour. Birthday party presents should be small and thoughtful, and for children it's the joy of giving and receiving a present. It is wrong to presume and expect presents of a certain value, and it is even more wrong to assume it's ok to ask.

After all you know what they say about the word 'ass-u-me'.

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Comments

  1. says

    Woah I had no idea that it was for her own kid, Flippin heck. I don't really like the whole classroom collection thing being forced on people and for your own kid if even worse. Some parents start going slightly nuts when it comes to things like this!

  2. says

    I agree with her too, but didn't like the public humiliation of the parents. I do wonder about the publicity aspect of her calling them out. I spend around £10 when invited (rising 5 year olds), but have never been asked for money, yet! :)

  3. Chocohalix says

    while I agree that the email is a bad idea and very presumptuous, I don't disagree with the idea of giving money. For a few years now, both my children (9.5/8) have received and given money or vouchers.(not all the time or every present) They love having their own money and get excited about saving for a DS game they want or something similar. Now they and their friends are older, there is a such a range of things that they might be interested in. Eg. Son's best friend loved figures- Dr who, Star Wars etc whereas Son isn't interested in those and prefers football themed stuff. And yes, I could buy his best friends an appropriate present, but with some of his less well known (by me) classmates I'd rather give a voucher or money so that I know they can buy something that they actually want. I think age comes in to it.
    I would also say that if I was totally at a loss, I'd ask the parent if there was something in particular that Fred wanted and take my cue from that.
    I think the child's age affects this debate but would say don't rule out money as a viable option :)

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      Very true, teens and tweens would probably rather have money so that they can select something and have some independence. Maybe a little something alongside would be a nice accompaniment?

  4. says

    Wow!!! That really happened. I'm shocked.

    How can you even think that emailing your child's class parents for money is acceptable?

    If their children want a kindle or a desk flipping buy them one. Collectively through family too if it helps. Not appeal to other parents who have their own children to fend for.

    I cannot believe what I read. I really can't.

    I would never assume nor demand a present from anyone. We invite people to our parties for the kids and some do turn up without a card or a present – so what? It's the fact they turned up and celebrated that counts not what they bought with them!

  5. says

    I saw a report today that said that the emails sent were a year ago… which adds some interesting colour to the story. It comes across as pretty entitled on the part of the parents but I similarly think that the way that Klass went about complaining about it wasn't great.

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      I agree, she has completely humiliated those parents and clearly done it for publicity. They were wrong to ask, but she was wrong to Instagram the emails a year later!

  6. says

    To be honest I was not at all surprised at this story when I first heard it – school ground politics are a nightmare! When my eldest started at his current school he went into Year 1 and I then stumbled upon the already established tradition of "£5 in a card" birthday presents. I was initially taken aback as I had NEVER done this before. I actually really enjoy shopping for kids presents, finding out what they like etc.. but I can now sort of see the reason behind it, and some children do actually like receiving money to put towards something they've been wanting for a while. I would usually combine it with a book or a mini-lego figure so that it wasn't just the cold hard cash! I am in no way justifying these mothers Mylene talks about – I think their request and method of delivery are both appalling. When it was my son's birthday I never even mentioned gifts (I find it very tacky to do that) but if parents emailed me specifically then I tried to point then in the right direction (books are always a safe bet) but would never dream of asking for money to buy something! You summed it up perfectly here "It's rude to ask for money in the first place, isn't that called begging?".

    As much as I agree with Mylene in this situation I have to say I am a little unsure about how she went about shaming them and what motives are beyond that.

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      Yes, it wasn't a kneejerk reaction for her to have done this a year after that email was received (it's come to light), it clearly shows she was after some attention of some sort. I agree the shaming was unnecessary. The discussion though is interesting. I can see that in some situations money would be suitable for the child, but like you I would combine it with something else. My niece had a £10 Hobbycraft voucher from us at Christmas but I put toiletries and another stocking filler with it too.

  7. alice says

    I must confess that I also wondered if she'd have a mouthful waiting for her at the gates, and agree the other mums must have been very embarrassed? While I agree with her sentiment, I do query her method of delivery!

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