|Slowly working on her cupcake|
|Fun at the park|
|Enjoying the park with sister|
Low-key birthdays are the way to go. Since Jane’s birthday party (Jane and I cried), I have discovered the beauty of small family birthdays. Growing up I had a birthday party every year. I don’t know how my mom did it.
Maurie turned one on September 10 and I was determined to keep it simple. I got online and was tempted to start planning a party that would take way too much time and effort. The mothers that plan elaborate parties for their one year olds either only have one child, find personal fulfillment in it or are gluttons for punishment.
I talked to my sister who went to a birthday party for a very young child and there were so many gifts that he or she said, “Am I done yet?” –referring to opening gifts. The child was literally throwing the gifts to the side as he opened them. As my sister told me this, I realized how excessive our lives can get. Gifts are certainly a sign of love and care, but when the child doesn’t even care about the gifts, you know something is being overdone.
So…Cody and I bought Maurie new socks and a stuffed unicorn that she was partial to at the store. I wrapped them in tissue paper, made some cupcakes and we sang Happy Birthday to her. We also told Maurie the things we loved about her. She was happy as a lark and was thrilled with both the socks and the unicorn. She gave her gifts a hug and patted them, definitely a sign of approval. She eventually devoured the cupcake and we all had a stress-free evening that also included going to the park as a family. I felt like someone had just lifted a burden off my shoulders. My daughter felt loved; I had the time to show that love, and we all enjoyed each other. Birthdays are not about the party, they are about honoring the person we love so much and joyously celebrating that they came to the family. Wow, why had I made my life so hard with Jane’s birthdays?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love a good, organized beautiful birthday, but for me and my house, we will be keeping it simple most years. I think there are a few birthdays that I will put in extra effort for, but family birthdays are lovely in their own right. I hope Jane is not too disappointed when she realizes that she may be just getting a new sibling for her birthday, a treat and a gift. She talks about cakes, balloons, surprises–a party that looks like something out of a Fancy Nancy book is more of what she envisions, but as long as she feels special and loved, I think she will forgive me.
So, in closing here are some simple ways to celebrate your child, spouse or friend.
- Share why you love them verbally or in writing-a card is nice.
- 1-2 gifts that are meaningful or simply show that you have thought of them.
- Give them the choices. Let them call the shots on dinner menu, cake type, frosting flavor or activities. If it is a child let them choose between a few options you pre-designed.
- Spend a lot of time focusing on the person. Ask them questions, praise them and share your favorite memories of them. We have a tradition in our family of telling our children their birth story every year on their birthday. My kids love it and it is a special time for them to hear about their lovely entry into the family.
- Keep games and fun simple. Here are some games I have played at my child’s birthday party or at my own growing up.
- Relay- you can literally make this up and don’t do too many rounds. Our relays tend to deal with a balloon and a memorable (and messy) one involved whistling with crackers in our mouth.
- Charades: You can customize this for your audience. For seven year olds the options were eating ice cream or driving a car and for adults you could make them harder.
- Pictionary: better for adults, but possible with little ones too. Get into two teams and each team member takes a turn drawing, without talking, and trying to get their teammates to guess what the drawing is. Again, like charades, customize the options for the age group. If you have the actual Pictionary game, you don’t have to come up with your own options.
- Memory: Give them a chance to memorize some items and then take them away and see what they can remember. Prize goes to the one who can remember the most items.
- Hide the treat bag and play Hot or Cold-hide the treat bags around the house or event area and let the kids find them. If they need help, play hot (close to the object) and cold (far from the object).
- Dance party-Turn on some fun music and let them dance.
- Musical Chairs
- I like this site for party ideas by age.
Do you have any other meaningful, but simple birthday traditions or games?