Before Joanna and I bought Mountain Top Toys two years ago, there was simply no way you would EVER have seen us sign our daughters up for a birthday registry. The word registry comes with so much entitlement and baggage, what type of parent would be so high on their horse to do a thing like that?
Then we took over MTT and within a week realized how wrong we had been.
Look, letting a child pick out toys they like and place them in a bin for friends to choose from not only ensures the child will be excited to get those items at their party, it reduces redundancy of gifts. Remember how heart-broken you felt as a child when another kid got your friend the same thing you were giving them - and their gift was opened first?
We see this every week - customer comes into the store and asks hopefully, "Does Sarah have a bin?" When the answer is yes, all is well with the world. A toy is chosen in a minute or two, we wrap it and out goes the customer in about five minutes tops.
When the answer is no, and if that customer really doesn't know what that birthday child's interests are, what toys he or she already has at home, or what other party guests have purchased for the child... it can take 15 minutes - or more - unless one of our staff members is free to help guide them.
Birthday bins significantly reduce the guesswork and turn what can be a stressful experience into a joyous - and short - one for the parents of guests attending your child's party. But you have to let your guests know about it. Because, hey, if you create a birthday bin but don't tell anyone... does it really exist?
The truth is, for many of your party guests, finding the absolute perfect gift for your little cherub? Not a high priority. (Think about how YOU typically shop for other children's birthday gifts. If you've got a couple kids in tow, soccer in the morning and a party in the afternoon? What gift you buy on your way to the party with only 5 minutes to spare is so low on that totem pole it's underground.)
And yet... as a parent of the birthday child, it can be incredibly difficult to say to other parents, "Jimmy is registered at Mountain Top Toys." It's that dang "r" word - it just feels icky. So don't use it. We don't.
Instead, we suggest you tell guests: "Hey, Jimmy created a birthday bin at Mountain Top Toys to make things easy on everyone. Everything in his bin is something Jimmy wants." You'll honestly be surprised at how many smiles and relieved looks you'll get in return. We know, because we see them every day. :)
Patrick Holland, born in a Cabbage Patch and raised inside the Honeycomb Hideout, is a former Oompa Loompa. He is now co-owner of Mountain Top Toys (with his not-so-silent partner and wife, Joanna), and parent to two daughters, both of whom are beginning to realize their father is just plain nuts. .