Life Advice



Ask Amy: ‘Best of’ questions are all about gifts

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Readers: Every year I step away from my column briefly to work on other creative projects. (Anyone interested in my personal essays and photographs can subscribe to my free newsletter:

I’ll be back next week. Today’s “Best of” topic from 10 years ago is: “Present Tense.”

Dear Amy: My oldest son will be turning five next month. We are planning a party at a local park with simple games and food. My problem is, I don’t want guests to bring presents. He has lots of toys, and I feel our house is overrun! However, I don’t want him to be hurt with the expectation of opening presents. Please help!

– Present Tense

Dear Present Tense: At your son’s age, giving and receiving gifts is important, not because of the stuff you get, but because of the social exchange — that of generosity and gratitude — that children demonstrate as they celebrate birthdays.

One way to balance the number of toys your son has is to ask him to choose one older toy to put in a basket for each new toy he receives.


You will then recycle these “basket toys” (eventually) by giving them to another family member, donating them to a local charity or shelter, or by having a yard sale. – June 2012

Dear Amy: I agree with you that gift exchanges are important for young children. A friend of mine handled this by asking all of her little guests to bring food, a toy, etc., for a dog – and they donated all of these gifts to their local shelter. It was a lot of fun, and the kids enjoyed it too.

– Faithful Reader

Dear Faithful: This is a great idea. – July 2012


swipe to next page




Herb and Jamaal Randy Enos 9 Chickweed Lane David Horsey 1 and Done David Fitzsimmons