It’s my birthday today. And quite honestly, one of the best gifts I’ve ever given myself was to forego the whole kids’ birthday party rigmarole.
That’s right. In our family, we don’t do birthday parties.
I know. The horror.
It’s not that I’ve never hosted a party. I have. But after hosting one of those ubiquitous bouncy house parties when my first-born was 3, I found that the traditional kid’s birthday party is less a celebration of my kid and more of a way to entertain a gaggle of other kids. (I mean, the other kids even get a goodie bag as a gift. It’s not your birthday!)
And so, we nixed the traditional birthday party.
Here’s why you might want to consider it too…
1. You eliminate the thankless tasks and stresses of party planning. No party means no sending invitations, no tracking RSVPs, and no hunting for the “perfect” themed decorations. See ya later, stress.
2. You sidestep all of the politics of who is and isn’t invited. Should we only invite the boys? Girls? What about the neighbors? Grandma and Grandpa? Someone’s always bound to feel left out.
3. You can save money. Even the smallest and most casual of shindigs costs money after pizza, decorations, etc. And if you have more than one kid, just multiply the costs.
4. You avoid the influx of well-meaning, but often unnecessary gifts. Listen. Kids love gifts. I get it. But one or two big gifts from you or another family member is more than awesome. No one needs two clear garbage bags full of stuff that they may or may not already own. (I do appreciate the sentiment behind Fiver Parties.)
5. You can be more creative in how you celebrate. When you remove the singular focus of a party from the equation and ask, “What would make this birthday memorable for my child?” you open up a whole new world of opportunities for celebrating the day of their birth.
So how do we celebrate birthdays instead?
In our house, on your birthday, you:
· Wake up to some fun balloons and a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday.
· Get to choose a special activity. We’ve done slot car-racing with a friend, seeing a movie, going to the zoo, getting mani-pedis, and more. As the kids get older, they have now requested to have one or two friends join them in their adventures.
· Get one special gift. Usually this is a larger gift that other family members contribute to as well, like a bicycle or art table.
· Choose your favorite meal for dinner. This could be dinner out or a home-made meal that you love.
· Choose what type of dessert you want. It could be ice cream cake, cupcakes, cannolis. Whatever makes your heart sing. Last year, my middle wanted a rainbow cake.
· Watch as much TV as you want! It’s just one day, after all.
If you’re the type of person who enjoys party planning, have at it. But if you’re just going through the motions because that’s what you think you’re supposed to do, consider switching it up for your next kid’s birthday. You just might be surprised by their reaction.
Remember, you get to create a life that works for you.
How do you celebrate your child’s birthdays? Drop a comment below and let me know.
Danielle Pickens is the founder of The Working Parent’s Guide, the working parent's go-to resource for practical tools, tips, and proven solutions for organizing your life in a way that brings you joy and gets your sh!t done. She’s personally tested everything she recommends on her 3 fun-loving kids, her good-sport husband, and her friends and colleagues through her role as Chief Program Officer at a national education nonprofit.