Fiver Birthday Party – Everyone Wins

A 6-year old informed me recently of the thrills of a “fiver” birthday party. I am now officially “in the know.” It also helped that this little pumpkin was wise beyond her years.

What is a fiver party? A fiver party is when all guests come with a $5 bill as a gift, in lieu of buying a material gift. The gift recipient then pools all of the money together to buy one, nicer gift.

Now, let’s kick that idea into overdrive. My little informent was one of three siblings who shared the Fiver Party. Let’s take a look at how this unique gift idea is gaining in popularity.

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Fiver Parties save time – if combined

From both the perspective of the parents and the guests, these parties save time.

This particular family chose to host one big Fiver Party for their three children. Instead of having three separate parties, energy and time was spent on one shared party. Do I hear three cheers for only one house cleaning?

Grandparents love this idea! Grandparent duties can get quite demanding, this is a way to relieve a bit of the pressure. If traveling a distance, a combined Fiver Party is a way for grandparents to celebrate all of a family’s birthday celebration roster with a single comittment.

Woman roller her eyes at a huge toy pile.
Kids don’t need more toys!

Quite frankly, your neighbors and friends love it, too. I mean, sure we love your kids, but sometimes the deluge of parties sucks the fun out of our social calendars.

Let’s not forget the gift search. How many of us have stared blank face at a store shelf, trying to find the best gift? Man, I hate that! If that’s not enough, we even move on to store #2, or turn to online searching (aka “the big, black hole”) to find the perfect gift.

Getting released from this gift giving hell is the gift of time we get back, not to mention the time we get back from the gift search, parking, wrapping, etc.

Last, but not least, is the time you will save not having to clean around myriads of cheap, plastic toys that well-meaning guests buy.

Fiver Parties save money

Fiver parties save money on so many different levels.

If this is a shared party, you’re sharing resources. For example, the smart mom here splurged for an inflatable fun house for an event that all three of her kids enjoyed, something she would have never done for just one child.

Of course the guests are spending less – waaay less. I cringe at the money I can easily drop in a toy store. Even a nice, quality non-toy gift can set a person back, which leaves most of us left to cheap plastic gifts. The idea that the birthday child can enjoy a decent, quality gift makes me feel much more satisfied.

Fiver parties also save face. I know that there are kids invited to birthday parties that can’t afford to give a gift. They feel that what they do give is inferior, and that they are inferior for it. Gifting “competitions” can lead to feelings of low self-esteem.

Fiver party - dropping money into a jar. Grandparents at a birthday party running with balloons.
Fiver birthday parties take different forms, and they all work!

Different ages, different Fiver Parties

Someone suggested that a toddler pulling out money from a card is confusing and meaningless. True. A book party might be safer at this age, if you still want to avoid a toy competition.

As stated previously, the Fiver Party that I learned about was for three siblings. It was well-known that three jars would be put out at the party. If a guest only knew one of the kids, they only had to contribute to that jar.

Teenagers enjoying a Fiver birthday party.
A teenager receiving money sounds more fun than a young child receiving a gift of birthday money.

The $5 is a great way to set a limit that is fair to everyone’s pocket book. That doesn’t mean that people adhere to it. They can give less or more, and slide it into the jar without judging eyes. Think of the times that gifts have been unwrapped in front of a crowd – a scenario that invites comparision.

Happy Simple Mom was brave enough to admit her Fiver Party fails. Who would have thought that elementary gift givers are embarrased to only give a cash gift, when their counterparts triumphantly hand over prized gifts (because it’s fun to give gifts!).

Consider saving Fiver Parties for older kids/young teens, or sharing the party with siblings where the Fiver Party theme is more enforced.

What will your kid think of a Fiver Party?

Hurt feelings may result from missing out on presents to unwrap. If the party is shared, that might lead to feelings of resentment. It all depends on the kid.

The question is, do you give your child the choice of having a Fiver Party? I remember one year the girls in my class decided to exchange names for Christmas, but then it was changed to giving everyone in our group a gift. We got greedy (we were focused on the big haul) My gifting resulted in super-sized candy canes for everyone, not a great win for any of them.

If your kid is focused on the “toy pile” you need to carefully pitch the idea of a Fiver Party. Selecting a nice toy that they have in mind will help with the sell and the bigger picture. This is also a perfect time to have the discussion about the real meaning of a party and spending time with family and friends, not getting things.

Happy smiling boy with birthday crown with balloons in the background.
Always talk to your child first about having a Fiver birthday party, it’s important you both have the same expectations.

It was obvious the two little girls I chatted with (who shared the Fiver Party with a brother) were thrilled about the annual event. It’s important to note that their party was a big deal, I mean the whole 9 yards with party food, games, water fun, and inflatable rentals.

The party guest list was big because it included family, friends of the parents, neighbors, and friends of the kids. Of course, those kids were pumped! If it was just a few people in a room, a Fiver Party probably wouldn’t hold the same excitement.

Honestly, I wouldn’t worry too much about hurt feelings. kids are spending their pre-party time thinking about what they will spend the money on. One could argue that the monetary-based party is spoiling your kid. I would argue that it is teaching them important money skills and how they will manage it.

A Fiver Party doesn’t have to happen every year, it can be a one-time event.

What will guests think of a Fiver Party?

First-time Fiver Party guests report that they feel awkward. They may even show up with $5 AND a gift! It’s a new concept to get used to, but parents and guests have quickly embraced the idea.

A carefully-worded Fiver Party invite is key to properly introducing the idea to new inductees.

If you are the guest and feel weird about giving only $5, you have options. Choose a fun card with a favorite character the kid loves, and tuck in some low-budget gifts like candy and or stickers.

Also know that $5 is not a hard and fast rule. A few other denominations make their way into gift cards and “giving jars.” And yes, some people still show up with wrapped gifts.

Most people are not used to coming empty-handed to birthday parties, but once you have been to one, you get it.

What do kids do on their real birthday?

My little informent told me that that “we do regular, fun birthday stuff, like getting to eat our favorite foods!” There’s no mom or dad who would not make the actual birthday special! That’s really what it is all about it.

Perfect wording for a Fiver Party invitation

Are you loving the idea of a Fiver Party, yet? If you’re all in, there is one very important detail, the party invite. The right wording is critical, it sells the idea of the party without you looking like a money-hungry beast.

Give your guest a choice in the matter. Sure, there will always be that one person who chooses to drag in the 5′ tall teddy bear or remote control gizmo. Soften the idea with letting the guest know that the child is saving up for a larger gift or an adventure.

Fiver party invitation.
There’s a fine line between tacky and “cool” for a Fiver Party invite.


You’re invited to Joey’s 8th birthday party! Gifts are optional, or feel free to join in on a “Fiver” gift. Drop $5 into a gift jar at the party (card or no card) and Joey will put the money towards an adventure of his choice!


Sally is having a Fiver Party! In lieu of gifts, we are encouraging guests to bring $5. Sally is planning to put the gift towards her first cell phone. If you would like to help with her goal, then drop the money into Sally’s special gift jar at the party.


Join us for a Fiver Birthday Party! All it takes for this fun trend is $5 (no other gifts necessary) – drop it into a card and Mark can put it towards one, super nice Lego toy. Party games, cake, and good times are waiting, join us!


Come celebrate Jason’s birthday! Skip the gift and come for the cake! Or drop $5 into the gift jar to put towards Jason’s next big adventure. Love to have you!

In conclusion

A Fiver Party has a lot of merit. And it’s not just an idea reserved for little kids. This idea would be perfect for retirement parties, newlyweds, etc. Anytime an adult is saving up for a gift (because their favorite things usually come with bigger price tags!).

Enjoy your Fiver Party!

Renee Cavvy
Renee Cavvy

Renee brings over 30 years of gift giving experience to holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, workplace and faith events. Every life moment is cause for celebration or those times in life when we need the "the gift of support". Her mission: Let's all be better in appreciating one another, put an end to meaningless gifts that clutter our lives, and give from a place of love and kindness. This midwest mom (and grandma) offers novel and creative ideas to do gift giving better!