Kid has birthday.
Family party. School party. Friend party. Daycare party.
Presents. Cake. Sugar high. Happy kid. All is great.
Next week. Kid crashes. Kid is over presents.
Mom goes crazy.
Now I know that this isn’t everyone’s experience, and for many of my friends, they LONG to celebrate month-long birthdays with their kids. But for me, I find that I get insanely stressed out when it comes to celebrating a birthday.
Consider the fact that our first born is a December baby, and I’m toast.
For four years, I found that celebrating a birthday in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, mixed in with a post-fall season for this photog mama, and add the stress of Santa gifts coming up…it’s simply too much. As much as I plan ahead, it’s plain and simple. That time of year just isn’t ideal for birthday celebrations.
So. I chose to change the birthdays in our home…and it’s been glorious.
Now hear me out. We didn’t “cancel” birthdays. We [as a family] are just choosing to approach birthday celebrations a little differently than the traditional way, in hopes that this saves a teensy bit of our sanity…and also makes birthdays a little more sacred to us, especially at Christmas time.
Choosing a birthday plan of attack.
It took me four years to figure out that celebrating ALL of the typical birthday parties in a week’s time was just too much. Instead, I needed to take a step back and figure out what was important, and celebrate THAT.
With our daughter’s birthday falling mid-holiday season, we knew we needed to keep that celebration low key, and the decision was to keep it to one day only. We emphasize making that one day EPIC for Blakely, and simply skip out on the week-long celebrations.
Note :: We also do this for our boys in April & June.
Make the birthDATE matter.
On her ACTUAL birthday, we emphasize that SHE gets to make the decisions. Eating on the birthday plate, making the family seating chart at meals, choosing the meal plan and snacks, the 15-minute party at school, lunch with Daddy, running to pick out her favorite cupcake (no baking for me), opening a FEW gifts at home (less $ and less clutter), blowing out candles, and ending our night with an activity together before bed. Everything is “small” to us as adults, but it’s incredible to see the joy exude from the eyes of a child when they get to be in charge of decisions that the parents usually make.
Utilize Half Birthdays
This was a HUGE stress relief for me.
We still host a party with Blakely’s friends. We just switch it up a tad and host that party over the summer for her half birthday…and even do it OUTSIDE in the HEAT!
Note :: We also recognize the boys’ half birthdays with special meals and a cake. Very simple.
It’s been fun to see our kids look forward to turning a half of an age, and I even find them counting down the days until they can say they are five “and a half.”
Downsize the Gift Giving
To me, this is probably the most stressful part of any birthday party. Our toy closet is already overflowing, and the thought of adding yet more toys nearly makes me want to puke from anxiety of trying to figure out where to put those things. One only has so much time to spend reorganizing and donating yet another time this year.
Most guests spend a max of $10 on birthday gifts (simply because they feel they cannot attend a party empty handed), so the gifts kids receive at parties are typically the small rinky-dink toys that they honestly don’t even care to have.
To me, this gifting tradition seemed unnecessary.
Why not eliminate a TON of stress by downsizing (or even eliminate) the gifts portion of a party? I’ve done plenty of research on this topic (sensing my anxiety with toys?), and here is what I’ve found is popular these days, and I must say…they are pretty genius!
Host a “FIVER” BIRTHDAY – Have you heard of this trending birthday theme? On the invitations, simply mention that it’s a “Fiver” birthday party, and in lieu of gifts, guests just bring a $5 bill in a card. It’s a wonderful lesson for any kids to witness. Discuss with them what money is, how to add it, and the importance of saving. The child can then put all of the money from the party towards ONE big gift they want, OR have them put it into their savings account at the bank (yes, my finance husband does this).
Host a “GIVING” BIRTHDAY – There are SO many charities around, so why not focus on teaching kids the importance of giving back to the community? With multiple trips to the Ronald McDonald House in Ohio, our family has a special bond with this organization. For birthdays, we simply ask for no gifts. Instead, guests are asked to bring pop tabs and/or monetary donations. It’s also mentioned that if guests feel the need to bring a gift, they are more than welcome to do so, but we just want them to know that it will be included in our donation trip (post birthday party) to the kids at RMH.
This year, we actually plan to combine the “Fiver” & “Giving” themed ideas! The money the kids receive will be donated to Ronald McDonald House Charities, and I can’t wait to see the joy on their faces when we do this!
What special traditions have you changed to accommodate birthdays in your home?
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