I was invited to a kid’s birthday party with a gift list. Is this normal?

Dear argentologist,

My son is invited to a child’s birthday party. The child is 6 years old and his mother is an occasional friend of around two years. The invitation was emailed yesterday and today I get an update that he now has a Toys “R” Us gift list. They include Franklin’s Sports Soft Tip Target Toss ($ 27.99 ), Nerf Sport Lighting Scoop Toss ($ 17.99), and Fisher-Price Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Pals ($ 14.99). I have now stopped attending this party. It sounds very selfish. What if families couldn’t afford these freebies? What if families couldn’t afford a gift at all?

Stunned Mom in New Jersey

Dear dumbfounded,

My first reaction was the same as yours: “Now you want me to furnish your child’s toy closet in addition to attending their birthday party?” But then I quickly changed my mind. If I had a 6 year old, I might think $ 14.99 is a small price to pay for a day of babysitting. I could watch a movie, meet friends for brunch, and rejoice that I’m not chasing after an army of hyperactive sugar laden kids for the afternoon. It’s not like someone dares to show up empty-handed to a child’s birthday party. If I were the host, however, I would also think carefully about who should get the wishlist at the risk of offending a guest like you.

I can see how people might back down from a birthday party gift list, and see it as yet another example of our law and the ridiculous mores of the middle class.

Assuming it is a slight misstep, the toys don’t seem overpriced even though some guests couldn’t afford them. Don’t feel pressured into buying from the registry if it’s more than what you planned to spend. Buy something else and – assuming the wishlist comes with a polite email – send your son to the party armed with a beautifully wrapped gift of your choice. If the host clearly gave the impression that the wishlist gifts were needed to pass the heavily armed security-wielding barcode scanners at the garden gate, politely decline and send them your own gift registry containing a set of 12 pieces of Waterford crystal. for your next birthday.

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I can see how people might back down from such a registry for a 6 year old’s birthday party, and see it as yet another example of a culture of law and ridiculous middle class mores. It gives the event a slightly pompous air at the height of a wedding – but only if the hosts were pompous, too. It all depends on how you manage the list. For some people, the lap of honor starts with the wedding, continues with baby showers, birthdays, and daily Facebook updates all the way through to graduation. In this case, wishlists are just a bold request for more validation. But other parents are more gracious and humble. Not everyone will agree to a toy registry, but for those who do, there should be an acceptable price range for all budgets.

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Toys ‘R’ Us started the “wish list” program in 2010 to likely make more money (after all, all guests are encouraged to go to this store for their freebies) and to create new repeat customers ( if I am going for a birthday, I will probably go back for the next one). The program is convenient for parents and also helps take the guesswork out of family and friends, says Toys ‘R’ Us spokesperson Adrienne O’Hara, especially for aunts and uncles who may live far away. . “Some people don’t know where to start,” she says. (Just as importantly, it can also help low-income families spread expenses for a child’s birthday.)

She’s right: it’s hard to know what to buy for a 6 or 10 year old, for that matter. I have no idea what kids are like these days. I would consider a birthday registry for the children of very close friends to be a godsend. Why? I’m still confused as to what to buy from them. Do space hoppers still exist? How about the Guess Who board game? Even the Moneyologist sometimes needs help. There are exceptions, of course. If the Toy Registry had $ 175 for a Nintendo 3DS XL and other expensive giveaways that only cost hundreds of dollars, I’d tell the host where to stick their wishlist – and even Dora the Explorer wouldn’t. able to find it.

PS I was only joking about the Waterford crystal.

Do you have questions about inheritance, tips, marriages, family quarrels, friends or any other delicate matter related to good manners and money? Send them to the MarketWatch Moneyologist.

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