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My wife and I are trying to figure out the best way to plan for our soon-to-arrive (Emma, May 30th) first child's future and I thought this would be a good place to ask for suggestions.
First a little background. We have a very close relative that, when it's birthday time, invites from 50-70 people to her one- and three-year old's parties. We watch as these two kids are inundated with gifts that will likely be played with or worn once, if at all.
We were thinking that since we will be giving our Emma birthday gifts ourselves, perhaps it would be better if on her birthdays, we had a party where instead of gifts any attendees could if they choose contribute to a college fund (likley a 529 plan). This way there is no requirement to buy a gift, there won't be a ton of toys/clothes that will be outgrown in months, and the guest would know that their money is going towards her college education.
I wanted to ask the community if 1) they think this is a good or viable idea, and 2) how would they suggest we bring this up when the first birthday nears (it's a little tricky as we're just a step away from saying "we'd prefer cash")? Obviously it's a while away before her birthday, so is this something we should consider mentioning at the birth? Or, and be honest, is this whole idea a little tacky?
Good luck! Personally I've done "no gift" parties since my son was 5 years old and prior to that we let people do what they liked, whether they gave money, bonds, brought a tangible gift or nothing at all.
Maybe in an invitation you could give the info to the college savings plan so that if people choose to contribute they may, but if they choose to bring a tangible gift, or are not in a position to bring anything, then everyone gets a choice on what they'd like to do. I will tell you from personal experience, regardless of how you put it, you WILL end up with gifts. Even when I have "no gift" parties, my son ends up with a few people bringing something...typically it's small, but every year it happens.