Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Birthday Traditions

Years ago, when I only had one or two children, I did the traditional birthday stuff. You know, big themed party with all the friends at the expensive venue with the big cake, games, crafts, sleep overs and the party bag as the guests went out the door. Whew! Even typing that out makes me sweat a little!

Well, needless to say, not anymore. Somewhere along the line we stopped all of that nonsense. Why did I ever think all of that was necessary? Seems like you are putting on a big show for all of the guests rather than focusing on your child - of course, I am not even mentioning the money aspect here. When you have more than one person you are doing that for every year it could really break the bank.

Anyway, in place off those traditional birthday memories, I have attempted to give my children, simple, heartfelt and sweet things to look forward to. Here's what we do now....

1. Decorate the bedroom - After the child is in a sleep, I (or we if there is an older child in on the gig) hang happy birthday posters and put up streamers and balloons. It's fun to wake up to your birthday! The boys especially like it when I tape lots of crepe paper across their door way in a zig zag pattern so they have to break out of their room. Another fun idea is to tie a piece of yarn to their bedpost and, winding it through several rooms, attach it to birthday surprise.

2. Choose the dinner - this one is from my husband's family. The birthday child gets to choose what we will be eating. This last year Creative Genius and I went to the grocery store together and I let him buy whatever he wanted which I believe was bananas and cottage cheese. Macho Man dreams of what he will have me make! I've enjoyed Tara's posts about what her child's birthday, she always includes what they chose for their birthday meals.

3. Party or gift - When I say party here, I'm not talking about the ones like we did years ago. I'm talking about a fun family outing. If there is somewhere that the birthday child has really wanted to go, then we go there. Some places we've been for birthdays in recent years: the fair, a children's museum in a near by city that we'd never been to before, roller skating, ice skating and Chuck E. Cheese. The alternative to a fun family outing is getting a gift. They can choose something reasonable that they want instead. Among our children, though, an outing is usually what they want.

4. Special Cake - Now that we have a professional cake decorator in the family, she takes requests and comes up with some beautiful designs. Here is one and here are more. My parents come over about once month and everyone likes to share their cake with Gram and Grampy.

5. New Birthday Clothes - I have started adding one more tradition... this only works with children that actually care about what they are wearing (!) but with my girls I've started leaving them a new birthday outfit to wear on their special day. Sissy especially likes this one. :)

6. Birthday Picture - We have one of one of our children blowing out the candles in three steps, seeing the cake lit with candles, taking a big breath and then blowing. I put it in a triple frame and try to put it out every year around his birthday. I've been attempting to change my pictures for each season and holiday, putting out birthday photos from years gone by is a fun and easy idea. Another wonderful idea I recently read about, take a picture of the child with his/her back to back with mom or dad. What fun to get one like that year after year and see the progression!

So, that's it, a simple, memorable birthday for each child that we all enjoy.


Fruitful Harvest said...

Hi there~
Great post!
I never liked all the goody bag hype! At a party I had for one of my 6 kiddos (before I had so many and changed how we celebrate Bdays) I did not (waste money)give "goody bags" at the end of the party. An ungratful party guest had a temper tantrum and said, "what kind of party is this! no goody bag!" Kids just expect things! My son was embarrased!

We too just Celebrate with a special family dinner and such....I love your 3 picture thing! I'm going to adopt that one!

One of my boys(2nd born) just turned 12 and I did give him a surprise party last week at the local pizza place with about 8 of his friends. Since his B-day was in Feb. he has never had a "PARTY" (back in the day when we still did them). He was complainning that he never got a party and felt like he was missing out some how.
With Feb. the height of flu season, he or someone in the family was always sick...All the other kiddos Bdays are in May,June and Aug.
With a Bday every 2 weeks the thought of "Parties" was over whelming. So we changed how we do things!
Aside from this most rescent Party it has been a number for yrs since we threw the kiddos a Party.

I read some place that a family of 12 kiddos makes the actual Birthday (day) special for the person but then does a once a year does a group party potluck BBQ in the summer with a pinota (the thing with the candy) and games ect. to Celebrate everyone's Birthday....no gifts!

Thats another thing with 6 kiddos there is not enought room for all the cheep gifts everyone would bring. (Not that we weren't gratful). You know what I mean I'm sure. 6 kiddos x 10 gifts = 60 things to find a home for!

Well sorry to ramble! Nicely done!


Anonymous said...

You have some really great ideas. I especially like the idea of decorating their room while they're sleeping-lots of fun!
I also think I'll begin incorporating the new birthday outfit (not to be confused with a new birthday suit) :-D
Since my two youngest are girls, I think they'd definitely get into the whole new outfit thing. ;-)
Thanks for sharing.

Missi said...

I also gave up having a party every year for the kids. They get a party on certain birthdays - 5, 10, 13, etc. Our parties are usually a gathering of family and friends. We have food while the kids play. Pretty simple.

When they're not having a party, I let them choose a special meal (or two depending on how busy I am). We give them a gift and they get to choose a special dessert. Most of them have transitioned from cake to ice cream sundaes. It's so much simpler.

The Ties that Bind Us said...

I really like your picture frame idea and the back to back with mom or dad. I've been meaning to get off the big party hype for years, but then the little ones get older and see the cool big kids party and want one. I didn't feel ok with somehow letting them "down". I think I'll pick some certain birthday years to have parties with friends and the others with family. Our problem is that we try to do both now, and with so many b-days back to back I get tired of it all. The point is to celebrate the child! And, I love your ideas. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for joining Tuesday Traditions.

Melissa said...

We stopped doing large parties as well. It is so much more special as a family. I love the idea about decorating their rooms. Also, the video by the twelve year old is wonderful. You can't help but to be moved to tears.