Two readers demonstrate that you don't need to shell out a lot of money for your child to have a memorable birthday. By Janet Bodnar, Editor-at-Large June 28, 2006 My recent columns on sensible birthday parties hit a chord with readers. Use the links in the box below to read my advice and the responses from parents over the past few months. Today, here are two more creative birthday approaches from readers: RELATED LINKS Birthday Party Mania Keep Birthday Parties Grounded A Birthday Party With Purpose Birthday Party With a Twist Gifts aren't necessary I loved your columns on how parents shouldn't throw over-the-top birthday parties for their kids. For our first kid party for Jeffrey, our 4-year-old, we had a pirate-theme party and invited a few friends from his preschool class. The kids decorated little treasure boxes, which cost less than $1 each, and we had a treasure toss and a few other simple homemade games. The party was after lunch, so we just served cake and ice cream. I made the cake. On the invitations I wrote, "No gifts, please, but a homemade card or picture would be nice." We made a scrapbook with pictures taken at the party and the cards and pictures from his friends, and my son loves it. It will last much longer than a pile of plastic toys that would eventually be discarded. No one seems to open gifts at parties anymore, so Jeffrey didn't miss that. And he still had gifts from his family to open later in the evening. Because the children brought something they made, they still got the joy of giving to a friend. And they seemed to get more out of their gifts because they had made them themselves. Advertisement Some parents expressed concern that my son wouldn't be getting gifts at his birthday. I told them that Jeffrey and I had talked about how many nice things he already has. We also talked about how nice it was that his friends took the time to make something for him. A charitable birthday Regarding your columns on birthday parties, I disagree with the reader from India who disagreed with you. The reader said it's customary in India to celebrate a huge first birthday party. I am from India, too, and believe me, there is nothing in Indian culture that suggests you must overspend on your child's birthday. I know many Indian parents (yours truly included) who have gone overboard on their kids' birthday parties. But a couple of years back, we were visiting India when the tsunami hit. My daughter was deeply affected by what she saw on TV. Her birthday was just around the corner, and instead of having a party, she decided to donate the money to the children of India who were affected by the storm. I was so proud of her. My 7-year-old daughter taught me an important lesson that day.