As my twins approached the big 3 this February, it came time to plan yet another birthday party. In previous years, we had done the Bubble Guppies train park thing and a hosted PAW Patrol party at an indoor sports place. I had created mud pits to push Tonka trucks around our backyard and had Star Wars characters shipped in from a local children’s entertainment company. As a family, we have attended more jump house events than I can remember.
This year I wanted to do something different for my boys. I choose the gift that keeps giving: a charitable birthday party.
1. How to Choose a Charity
There are so many great valley organizations that could use the attention and extra hands to get their missions done. My twins were turning 3, so ability, attention span and safety concerns limited our choices.
As an adult, I have volunteered at a variety of nonprofits in Phoenix and one of my best experiences was giving time at Ben’s Bells. Located downtown (not far from the Children’s Museum), Ben’s Bells in an Arizona-based organization whose philosophy is simply to Be Kind. The mission of Ben’s Bells is to inspire individuals and communities to engage in kindness education and practice. To raise funds for these projects, they sell handmade coins, bells, and other items in the form of “purpose-driven” shopping. Their products are handmade purely by volunteers.
The core values of empathy and thoughtfulness at Ben’s Bells matched perfectly with those I want to instill in my children. My kids also enjoy getting a little messy with art.
Ben’s Bells makes it very easy to for even our young kids to help out. They host in private parties in their downtown studio. These can be for birthdays, showers, and any other reason for craft loving people to get together.
As a mom of preschoolers, however, the idea of having my small children around in a studio holding so many breakables was a little daunting.
So instead, I chose the To Go Box option. For a $100 donation, you can borrow a box of supplies. Inside, there is paint, pottery, brushes, etc. to have your family and friends help make Kindness Coins for the studio. For less than the price of a backyard bounce house rental, we were able to do something fun and meaningful.
2. Organize, invite, and plan
Thank goodness for the ease of Evite invitations. We offered an introduction to mission of Ben’s Bells and told everyone to give a small donation to them (or a favorite charity) in leiu of presents. Along with the invite, came a warning to dress casually for paint.
Without the need for cartoon character faces on everything, buying supplies was a breeze and didn’t cost an arm and a leg. We cleaned up the backyard, set up some IKEA tables and chairs. Buying Costco snacks, pizza and cake thing kept things simple.
3. Host it!
Ben’s Bells gives the host an informative packet of information to lead activities. As the child guests were pretty small, I skipped a lot of explanation with them and spoke with the parents about this great cause.
The kids gave an earnest attempt to help paint the coins. As to be expected, their attention came and went for the activity. As the host, I did have to spend some time afterwards repainting and touching up some of the coins.
4. The Take Away
Each kid took home a finished Kindness Coin and a Be Kind sticker that came with the To Go Box as our Thank You gift. Hopefully, this is the first of many opportunities for them to give back and be part of our great community.