It's that time of year, the day when we wish a happy birthday to my dad, Richard Edward Jones III, also known as Dickey Jones, aka the Doc.

The Box Or The Thought

My little dudes loved ripping wrapping paper off presents.

I can’t tell you the number of times I cringed my way through a birthday party with one of the three dudes. They’d sit up there in their place of power (that is, surrounded by the rest of the party guests with presents stacked around them), and rip their way through the entire stack, barely pausing to breathe.

Cringing seemed mandatory to me because they would at times only Birthday parties for young dudes and dudettes are rapidly becoming greedfests, in which the birthday girl or birthday boy rip and tear through packages and don't even care about who's giving it, or what the present even is.rip a hole in the paper, see what the gift was, drop it and then move on to the next gift.

They took no time for appreciation, no time to thank the giver. Heck, they took no time to even find out who gave them a present. That was up to their mom and me.

Here’s the thing about that. Most of the presents? Hardly ever got played with. Either they already had something like it, didn’t like it or whatever reason. And my little dudes weren’t the only ones.

Most parents aren’t going to spend a buttload of money on a birthday present for a young dude or dudette, so there’s a certain range that the presents will be.

It felt so. . . wasteful.

And then our kids were invited to a party by a friend of ours. The birthday card requested that, instead of gifts, we bring either dog food, or a canine toy, or money to donate to the animal shelter. The girl of honor, you see, wanted to use her birthday to help those who couldn’t help themselves.

It was brilliant. And, apparently, it’s an idea the time for which has come. In a major way. Thanks to the internet. Of course.

EchoAge is an online invitation service that not only handles inviting the kids, but makes sure the party thrower gets wanted gifts and gives to charity.

When you receive an invitation, you can go to EchoAge to either accept or decline. While there, you can give whatever amount of money you choose to the birthday boy or girl.

Rather than being crass, it’s brilliant. See half the money goes to the kid and half of it goes to a charity the kid has already designated. Once the party is over, the kid can take the money given through the service and go out to buy a present he or she actually wants.

Not only does a charity receive donations, but both party giver and party goer can have discussions with parents about charity, the importance of helping out those who are less fortunate than you are, and finding ways to do things that are more efficient and more environmentally friendly.

How cool is that?

I really wish I had this service when my young dudes were young enough to actually use it. Right now, though, my young dudes are in that parental awkward age where they’re too old to want to have a cake-eating birthday party and invite friends and too young to go to Las Vegas, so that’s out.

Fortunately for you, though, EchoAge is expanding beyond the birthday party for kids and is starting to invite adults for various different kinds of parties, still offering to give half the money or more to charity.

No matter the age of the party giver, I think that’s a great idea.

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