Kids’ birthday parties and gift registries shouldn’t go hand-in-hand.

My friends joke that I have an angry alter ego called Geraldine.

On the odd occasion when something gets my goat, Geraldine rears her cranky head. She is the reason why I would never be able to run for government.

I lose my cool when things are downright stupid, and a politician who loses her cool, is, well, not cool. If you work in politics you are surrounded by stupidity, mostly other politicians, so you would be voting for Geraldine and not me.

Last week Geraldine made a rare appearance when I saw gift registries for childrens’ birthday parties on TV. The footage showed a young girl in a store choosing the things she liked and zapping them with a scanner, assumedly to marry up to a list that would be sent with the invites.

Maybe I’m behind the parenting curve, but I’d never heard of it, have certainly never needed it, and if I was sent one I’m pretty sure I would boycott the party out of principle.

I know it is standard for wedding invites and now baby showers, and maybe this is a double standard, but I understand that as adults we don’t want two toasters. But kids, sorry, you get what you are given — deal with it.

Just like the idea that Pass-the-Parcel must now have a gift in every layer to avoid disappointment, it seems our birthday gifts must be exactly what the child has chosen for the same reason.

The stupidity of it all is that it sets them up for disappointment, anyway.

They go along to a shop, go nuts picking every toy they want, spend weeks imagining they will get the lot, only to open a few on their birthday because people have budgets, 10 parties a weekend, and not enough time to buy individual gifts for every kid in the class.

Most parents I know make one stop at the toyshop to buy 10 of whatever item their own child loves or would love and pays it forward.

If the receiver doesn’t love it, A) TOO BAD and B) it goes into the original gift registry, the present cupboard in the hallway that emergency gifts emerge from when times are a little tougher than usual or you forget about the party until the morning of.

Whilst the idea of gift registries for kids makes me mad, it also makes me sad. Millie is three and just getting to the age where she understands the art of gift giving. She has
even started helping me choose gifts for her little friends.

The joy she gets, both from choosing and then giving the gift, is THE POINT OF GIFT GIVING.

Millie loves it so much, and now when I mention we are visiting someone she goes to her room, selects something she already owns and offers to wrap it and give it to them. Just because she wants to see the joy that comes with opening a surprise.

The surprise is often that it’s a rock, or a feather, or one of her favorites shoes (usually the left shoe) but it doesn’t matter. It’s the gift that counts.

I don’t want to take that away from her just yet, not at three and not even at 13. Gift registries for kids say to me ‘you can be my friend, come to my party, but if you don’t give me what I want it’s not good enough’.

Little friends are not Santa Claus; we shouldn’t force a list on them and if you do, you will find yourself on my naughty list for sure.