Here was any birthday in my family when I was a kid ~ everyone (meaning cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, brothers, sisters, friends, etc.) gathered at a house (ie our house, my Grandma’s house, one of my Aunt’s houses, etc.) for a meal, cake, ice cream, singing and presents. We are a very close family and there is at least a few birthdays every month (save for October when it is only my husbands birthday and of course when I was a kid, he wasn’t around). It wasn’t unusual for someone to call on Monday or Tuesday for a party that weekend.
There was no person dressed as a mouse, no matching napkins/plates/cups/balloons/plastic silverware, etc, nothing out of control and crazy. It was a casual undertaking.
And yet we had fun. We had a great time! We ran around, played games, visited, etc. We didn’t have to have someone or something entertaining us, we were kids and knew how to play on our own.
When we have thrown birthday parties for our kids it is much like when I was growing up. When Alice turned one we had a party and invited a few people over. My Mom happened to be visiting the area and was able to be there. We made sloppy joes and had chips and probably potato salad, cake and ice cream. Alice wasn’t interested in the cake at all – she wouldn’t even touch it. LOL She and the other babies sat by each other and stared.
I didn’t throw her a party when she turned two because I was due with Jake on her birthday (and Chris was not around because of work). My Dad and a brother (and a couple of his kids) were visiting and we had cake and ice cream. Jake wasn’t born for five more days.
For her third and his first, we had a combined birthday party. A few friends came over and we bbq’ed and had cake and ice cream and the kids toddled around the yard.
For her fourth and his second we had another combined birthday party. This time a friend bought this blow up house thing that she owned. The kids played in that as well as ran around the yard. The adults gossiped/visited and ate food.
For her fifth and his third we didn’t have a party as we were living here (SC) and only knew one other family here (other then our neighbors) so we just had dinner and let the kids pick what to eat as well as the kind of cake they wanted.
If we are still here this year for her sixth and his fourth, I plan on having a party at the gymnastics place. I plan on having balloons, cake and ice cream. If we aren’t here, well we’ll just have to figure that out later.
Easy, not overly (or at all!) decorated and yet fun. We have great pictures of sweaty kids eating ice cream, of friends sitting under the shade on the patio, of the kids running after each other. We have pictures of the Dora cakes I (and my Mom) made when they were 3/1
and of the Dora and the Elmo cake Chris and I made (it’s an abstract Elmo) when they were 4/2.
Ever since being married and attending friends’ kids birthday parties, I’ve had a hard time dealing with birthday party stuff. I don’t like the themed-out-to-the-max decorations and I especially don’t like the gift bags.
All of this is coming from my attending a birthday party yesterday. The birthday girl had picked out her theme from the birthday express catalog. I looked at the catalog once and while the things in it are cute, they are so very expensive considering the amount of time they are used. I don’t understand the idea of buying so many things just because they are cute and they match when they will only be enjoyed for a matter of hours.
Getting back to the gift bags, I’ve always felt that your birthday was a special day just for you – what fun is it for a kid if they say thank you for the gift, here is one for you too. That just doesn’t make sense to me. I like to think I’ve done my kids birthday parties as mine were done when I was a kid. Sure I have them at my house so there is the cleaning up and doing dishes (or having extra trash from paper plates), but that’s what I want and what I enjoy and more importantly ~ it is what I want to pass on to my kids.
I was visiting with my Mom about the birthday party because other then looking like a unicorn threw up (seriously, *everything* in that room matched, it was overwhelming for me and I’m 28. I can’t imagine how those kids felt!), the invitation said no gifts please. So we made a cute card (pictures soon, I made two of them), wrote a nice note and the kids each signed their own names. And when we get to the party, there was a table of gift bags of presents. For a moment I thought oh no, were we the only ones to not bring a gift – and then I was over feeling…whatever that feeling was. Then I felt annoyed that no one listened to the Mom who sent the invitations. No gifts means no gifts. I think it was disrespectful for others to not pay attention to the parents request.
My kids have a lot of toys – so many toys that I am putting away at least half and we are going to start rotating them, so many that the kids stick to playing with their three favorites because there are too many to pick from. I intend to tell people no gifts please – but I’m thinking I’ll say something like if you feel you need to do something, please make a donation to _____ (I haven’t thought of what yet). I would gladly make a donation in name of someone.
So in talking to Mom about the party she says she just read about something where parents were protesting how out of control kids birthday parties have been. A quick google search and I found Birthdays Without Pressure. What a great idea! I am going to tell everyone I know about this. I’d rather my kids have great memories of playing with their friends then some cheap toy they received after turning in a bunch of tokens, that cost the birthday childs mom and dad quite a chunk of change.
I’ve never felt competitive with my friends over birthday parties but I don’t understand how we have allowed them to get out of control. The stories over at Birthdays Without Pressure are way more then I’ve personally experienced and I’m so glad. Here is to a birthday without pressure – spread the word.