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Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Oh, No! It's My Kid's Birthday!

Well, we're into birthday season in our household. Starting last month, we began our six-month journey that will have us celebrate a dozen family birthdays, with us as the primary party planners for six of those.

I'm sure that I'm not alone in feeling a touch of panic when birthdays loom on the horizon. It seems (at least to me) like some kids' parties have taken on a frenzied and extravagant nature. For example, I recently read about one child's birthday that featured costumes for the whole family, theme music, multiple themed games, house-wide decorations, etc., etc. And all this for a five-year-old!

Anyone else feel totally intimidated?

Thankfully, I'm fortunate to know several families that have consciously opted to keep their celebrations a bit more grounded.

My sister-in-law puts on fun-tastical parties using little more than a roll of newsprint, discarded cardboard boxes from a grocery store and run-of-the-mill craft supplies. Games are re-imagined old-stanbys ("Pin The Beard On The Pirate," anyone?). And her cakes are very imaginative in their decoration, often incorporating the kids' toys to fit the theme.

A friend of ours has made a habit of hosting her daughter's birthday parties in a local park. A lot of time is spent playing on the playground equipment. Then, there are a few classic games, like sack races, tug-of-war and such. Food arrives from the pizza parlour around the corner. Some cut-up fruit and veggies complete the meal, with, of course, cake.

In lieu of typical loot bags filled with candy and plastic things that instantly break, we have received thank-yous such as a pie pumpkin (for a fall birthday) and a single helium-filled balloon (I challenge anyone to find me a kid who doesn't know how to have fun with a balloon!). My all-time favourite party "loot" though was a simple snapshot of the birthday child with our boy, mounted on a piece of boxboard (like from a cereal box) covered in pretty paper.

Our first "kid" birthday is around the corner, so I'll be musing a bit more on birthdays and such in the next while.

What "realistic" birthday ideas have you tried or experienced?


  1. We've decided just to have family birthdays until he's old enough to really request friends...we still want it to be fun and meaningful, but we are VERY spare, gift-wise (birthday #1, dad & I got him one gift each, and #2 we got him a box of crayons). But the caveat is taht the grandparents are all very elaborate :(

  2. Celebrating a birthday is a festive occasion for most people. But I’m one of those parents that prefer to celebrate my kids’ birthday just with the family. We spend the day together as a family, share a cake that my child chose, have some ice cream, and, of course, give the celebrant the presents! It’s precious when you see your child excitedly opening his gifts, especially when he hugs you as gesture of appreciation and gratefulness. You did great for your son’s birthday and it’s good to know that you all had a great time. :)

    Nita Digirolamo

  3. Good question. When throwing a kid’s party I always ask the celebrant first his inputs – what he wants to have, what he wants to see, who he wants to invite, what food he wants to eat, and where he wants the party to be held. I think it’s useless if we throw an extravagant party without considering if the kids will appreciate it.


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