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Pros and cons of kids’ birthday gift registries

Balancing convenience, surprise and the sense of entitlement

Balancing convenience, surprise and the sense of entitlement a registry might encourage. Credit: Dreamstime

What do etiquette experts think of parents including their child’s wish-list gift registry along with birthday invitations?

“There are a few trains of thought,” says Joan Jerkens, a Huntington resident and owner of Act As If Etiquette and Protocol, which offers kids and teens classes in proper behavior when hosting and attending parties, in table manners and more.

On the one hand, some parents find it convenient to have some guidance on what to take for a gift, and they also know their child will be giving a gift the birthday child actually wants, Jerkens says.

On the other hand, some parents are uncomfortable with the trend. As modern as today’s parents may be, “they are still old school, believing that a gift comes from the heart.”

Jerkens says she tends to side with the latter group, that gift registries for, say, 7-year-olds is too young. “I understand the reasoning behind it. I understand the convenience of it,” she says. “I still think the surprise of a gift, the thoughtfulness of a gift, that outweighs it.”

She says getting an invitation to a party is an opportunity for parents to teach children about putting thought into doing something for a friend. And she feels that having a young child create a gift registry can contribute to instilling a feeling of entitlement into the birthday child.

While bridal and baby-shower registries have become de rigueur, so the honorees get things they need and not duplicates, Jerkens says she hopes birthday party registries won’t become commonplace for kids.

“They should have the foundation of the meaning of gift giving before they jump right into the convenience of gift giving,” Jerkens says. “I think they’re missing out.”


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