This post has nothing to do with sleep. Or helpful parenting products, services or books like a few of my latest posts. BUT it is a post on a topic that every parent thinks about at least once a year (depending on how many kids you have). BIRTHDAYS.
Every year I struggle with the birthday party thing…do we throw a big party? Where should we have it? Who should we invite? WHAT will we put in those goody bags that will be inevitably forgotten by the time they get home from the party???
You see, we have back-to-back birthdays at the end of each summer, with my boys’ birthdays falling at the end of July and beginning of September. I typically don’t do “home” parties for both because, let’s face it…that’s A LOT of work!
Recently we had our older son’s party–a Totally Gross Birthday Party–in our kitchen (it was pouring outside!) with 12 classmates. As the only female in our house (we even have a male chocolate lab), I realize that sports, trucks and dirt will forever trump any notions of floofy and fairy tales, but this party had an extra shot of “yes, I’m the mom of 2 boys.” And I’ll be the first to say that it was FUN!
My son has been hinting that he may not want to do the big birthday thing next year, so I tried to make this one extra special…
Here are the activities we planned:
Smearing six numbered diapers with baby food (carrots, squash, peas, green beans, applesauce and pears) and having the kids take a sniff and try and guess which one was in each diaper. Got A LOT of ewwwwwwws. Even from the boys…success!
We played Pin the Booger on the Nose…
They dug through “guts” (spaghetti coated with oil and chilled) to find eyeballs, insects and frogs…the “brain” jello we ate with the cake.
And we had pie eating contests…filling pie pans with whipped cream and 2 gummy worms and the kiddos had to put their hands behind their backs and find those worms!
Our original (aka outdoor) plan was to have a relay race involving 100+ water balloons. So instead we did a race with whoopie cushions, eating marshmallows and making a “basket” with a balloon into a trash can. I didn’t take any pictures of that…it went way too fast!
And then the cake. A garbage cake. The fondant was marshmallow-based, so even the trash tasted good.
Since we had a few extra minutes and I didn’t want the troops to start rioting, we made oobleck and gave each kid a few marbles to experiment with. They took their bowl of oobleck home as part of the goody bag…
Parents picked up promptly, kids were given a bag of gross toys and candy and I sat down for a few minutes before tackling the “de-partying” of my kitchen…
While I was relaxing for those 3 minutes, I started thinking about birthdays and how it isn’t necessarily the party that makes your child happy–although they certainly do bring out the giggles! It has more to do with making your child feel special and celebrated, especially on his (or her) special day.
We have a few birthday traditions in our house, and I find that doing something really special one day out of the year brings out the biggest smiles! Here are some ideas we’ve done:
- Decorate your child’s room with balloons and streamers while he/she is sleeping
- Candles. At every meal. Stick them in pancakes or mashed potatoes or a hamburger.
- Have a present treasure hunt…makes the present opening more of an activity
- Have each guest (family/friends) sign their name on the inside of the cover of your child’s favorite book
- Make a birthday book and each year, interview your child (favorite food, favorite color, favorite place to go with mom, etc), record vital stats and milestones and put a photo of the birthday boy/girl
- Take a picture of your child in the same shirt (ie a big adult-sized t-shirt) and see how much he/she grows each year (or next to a tree, etc.)
- Measure your child on a growth chart on his birthday every year. I am continually amazed how much they grow each each (although I shouldn’t be since I’m the one buying longer pants for them a few times a year!)
And while the big crazy (gross) birthday party was a kick, I think we may try something new and different next year. No, not a princess party…but maybe plan a special outing with just a few close friends (or just family) and make it less of a “birthday party” and more of a “birthday celebration.” The whole point of a birthday is to celebrate, but oftentimes (especially for those of us Type-A personalities who have to plan these class parties to the very last detail), it gets stressful planning the party. And how can you focus on making sure your child is having a super excellent birthday if you’re worrying about some party detail?
Or I could always hire someone else to run the party for me while I sit back, take a few photos and admire the grins on the kids’ faces! (Have a Bashery puts on all sorts of creative kids parties…and Marcy is great!)
At the very least, next year I will start planning earlier, whatever we do (I typically send out evites the week before) and I’ll remember that the only 2 priorities I should have are making my child feel special on his birthday…and that there should be cake!