Presently for Kids
I recently met Dalia, co-founder of Presently, a group-gifting platform that enables sustainable gifting by providing a way for families and friends to pool toward a single meaningful gift for any special occasion – for kids and adults alike. This isn’t anti-toy, but rather, pro-child. Limiting toys enables children in a variety of beneficial ways.
Who is Presently for?
People interested in:
- Minimizing environmental footprints and excess waste
- Mindful consumerism
- Maximizing quality time with your child by eliminating time returning unwanted or duplicate gifts
- Meaningful lessons for your children around consumerism, saving, and giving back
- Simplifying the gift buying process
Would want their children to be:
- Educated on being intentional
- Enabled in critical thinking skills
- Engaged in communicating their decisions
- Encouraged to select meaningful gifts
- Empowered to take on social responsibility
How it works.
- The child and their parents decide their gift of choice for the special occasion and set up a unique invitation page with Presently with details on the child’s gift wish, along with details for a party if there will be one.
- Digital invites are created and can be distributed to friends and family from communication channels of choice (email, text, etc), who then can contribute toward the group gift and submit a personal message for the group card that Presently mails to the hosts.
- In anticipation of the gift, the hosting family can view a virtual piggy bank to see how close they are to getting their gift, as well as view contributions in real-time, including who has given and their message, via their private portal link.
- All contributions go toward the child’s present (which has to be purchased by the host family but can be done anytime) and a custom card, compiled by Presently with all the contributor messages and sent to the host in advance of the big day! If there are extra funds, it can be applied towards a savings account for the child or to charity, depending on the hosts’ wishes.
- If there is a party, reminder emails are sent one week out and two days before the event. Finally, thank you emails are sent to all contributors after the event.
What is a ‘gift’ ?
What is a gift? Societal standards push us from an early age to see them as something tangible. The dictionary defines a gift as “a thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present.” We have come to understand that a “thing” is a tangible object. That is why for birthdays and holidays, a lot of time, money, and effort is spent on “finding the perfect gift” and why the consumer industry is constantly booming. But gifts can be so much more! The gift of quality time. The gift of a memorable experience. The gift of an act of service. There are many ways of bringing happiness into the lives of those your love, material and immaterial.
With Presently, a child can feel free to use their imagination and ask for anything. If Billy wants a PS4 or iPhone that could be his choice item. Maybe Jenny wants to take dance or piano lessons. It could finally be time to get Johnny that puppy he’s been asking for. This could be the year Molly goes to Disneyworld to see all her favorite princesses.
Why use Presently ?
Minimizing environmental footprints and excess waste.
Gifting creates a lot of potential waste. By the time a gift is presented, it has gone through so many hands and steps. As the gift giver, a person has likely invested in other items as well, including but not limited to: wrapping paper/gift bag, ribbons or bows, tissue paper, a card, tape, a plastic bag if it was purchased in store, a printed receipt, a box from online orders, and packaging materials from stores including crumpled paper or bubble wrap. These one-time use items are typically disposed of. Presently eliminates the majority of this as well as the clutter that accompanies it.
Having too many toys is actually detrimental to developmental needs. Many parents want to give their kids everything they want to show them how much they love them or out of fear that depriving them may inhibit their growth or have them bored. The opposite is actually true. Piaget’s cognitive-developmental theory (1952) states that children acquire knowledge as they explore, manipulate, and imitate the environment around them. With less “stuff”, attention span is longer and focusing on specific tasks is more mindful.
We can teach the youth of today to develop good habits early on. Presently allows a child to choose their own gift. By doing so, they weigh the pros/cons in what they want, and find something that is the “best value” in their eyes. It also teaches them the sacrifice principle, in that in life, some things have to be sacrificed for others. Kids also learn to be more creative and fully develop their gift of imagination.
Maximizing quality time with your child.
Unless you are serious type A and assign different gifts to different guests, it is likely that there will be gifts that are duplicates (think – popular, current, trendy, items) or unwanted (think – not of personal interest, not all little boys like cars, not all little girls like pink, etc). You may end up returning these gifts or storing them in your own home to regift later on. You become the new instigator, potentially passing on something that is unwanted or duplicate to another child, after it has taken up precious space in your home for who knows how long. Or you are spending precious time running to the store to return gifts – maybe waking up early or going before or after work. Precious time that could be spent engaging with your child (or take some quiet moments for yourself – we’re not here to judge!)
Fewer toys also means less time in cleaning up the toys. Fewer toys allow for a less chaotic home. Cleaning up is easier and takes little time. Less mess means less stress, for both the child and adult. Which means more and better quality time together.
Meaningful lessons for your children around consumerism, saving, and giving back.
Society has traditionally been on the materialistic side. Let’s be honest. Most of us have way too much “stuff.”We’ve adopted lifestyles where we see it, we like it, we want it, we get it. (Shoutout to Ariana Grande!) And when we have a surplus, each individual item becomes less valuable. So when we don’t want something anymore, we dispose of it without a second thought.
Presently provides a resource for adults to help facilitate conversations with children around conscientious choices in consumerism, saving, and donating – empowering kids to think critically to distinguish what they need from what they want. Additionally, Presently offers the option to put any “extra” funds toward a savings account or donate it to charities. This gives children options in handling their money – whether that is exposure to long term planning in saving for college/car/etc., or in the philanthropic aspect to giving back to a cause/institution they find meaningful.
Simplifying the gift buying process.
This one is more for your guests. They don’t have to worry about finding the right gift or buying any of the extras that come with gift giving. They don’t have to pop in the store or wait in line or pay for online shipping. Busy or absent minded individuals can receive automatic reminders, and hop on their phone or computer anytime – even on the car ride to the party ! – to make a contribution. Also it helps create a balance between gift givers where those of a lower socioeconomic status won’t feel potential public unease for variations in gift value dynamics.
Engages children in communicating their decisions.
When deciding what they would like to have, children can communicate that to the parent. They can be involved in conversations on weighing pros and cons, thinking in terms of value, negotiating, and how to voice their frustrations. Along with the gift itself that the Presently page is set up for, the child can use the same communication techniques in deciding what to do with any “leftover” money.
Providing children with the ability to influence things affecting them contributes largely to their development. Participation in the decision making process is crucial as it provides opportunities to learn new skills and have fun, along with exposes them to the “real world.” It also helps your child to really know themselves and learn their own interests. Instead of wanting/having a bunch of random things just because they are ‘cool’ – they can focus on items that they will gain maximum benefits from.
Encourages children to select meaningful gifts.
Scientists have said that children are far more creative when they have fewer toys. In addition, they tend to play with each toy for twice as long, and invent new ideas and uses for each toy. Presently’s method allows children to select their own gift. That way, even though they are receiving less, they are able to reap maximum benefits in something they truly want. That way they aren’t getting things adults deem as “fun” or “educational” that may be of little or no interest to them. Nor are they getting a wide variety of items they think they want because they saw a cool ad one time on TV or other ad.
When children have too many things, they will naturally take less care of them. Conversely, if there are not always replacements readily available, they will value their things more.
Empowers children to take on social responsibility.
Presently will also be offering a virtual piggy bank that, in addition to allowing users to see how much they have received, will show how much of an impact their pool has on reducing waste and saving the environment. This allows children to develop a sense of pride in taking on social responsibility. They can also choose their leftover money to be donated to charity, giving them the ability to choose from a cause that might resonate with them.
Don’t just take my word for it.
Author Joshua Becker explains how fewer toys are better for children because sparse playrooms encourage creativity, help develop attention spans, and teach youngsters about taking care of their possessions in his book Clutter-Free with Kids.
Infant Behaviour and Development published an article from a study from the University of Toledo in Ohio called “The influence of the number of toys in the environment on toddlers’ play,” which found that: 1. An abundance of toys present reduced quality of toddlers’ play, 2. Fewer toys at once may help toddlers to focus better and play more creatively, 3. This can be done in many settings to support development and promote healthy play.
The book Der Spielzeugfreie Kindergarten, by Regula Eissing and published by Don Bosco Verlag, outlines a study conducted in Munich where playthings were packed up in a nursery and imaginations were instead allowed to run rampant. The book is titled after the project, which translates to ‘the nursery without toys.” The founders of the study were public health officers who worked with adults suffering from a variety of addictions. They wanted to find the source of such addictive behaviors. The goals of removing the toys were to create an environment where children were “self-confident, able to bear conflict and frustration, able to say `yes’ as well as `no’, and also aware of their weaknesses and strengths”.
Little Things Long Remembered: Making Your Children Feel Special Every Day by Susan Newman, a social psychologist and parenting expert, provides a treasure chest of ways to engage children, build close family bonds, and ensure special memories for years to come.
Psychological Science published an article titled Waiting for merlot: Anticipatory consumption of experiential and material purchases, hypothesizing that experiential purchases (money spent on doing) tend to provide more enduring happiness than material purchases (money spent on having).