"Let your moderation be known unto all men.
The LORD is at hand." Phil. 4:5
With my oldest turning 10 this month (yes, crazy!) I've had birthday parties on the brain. I think it is interesting to notice how everyone has a different take on how they do birthdays. Some of you put people like me to shame! I'll admit after seeing some of the spreads you moms put on, the guilt starts to set in, like maybe I'm not doing enough for my kids to acknowledge their day. But after 5 minutes it goes away. Because once I start remembering that I'm not just planning one or two birthdays I'm planning seven, I quickly remember why it is I don't go all out for birthdays. My reasons go something like this:
TIME: I have a few kids. Whatever precedent we set for how birthdays will be celebrated needs to be consistent across the board. If I decide I'm going to be that mom who goes all out planning a birthday party I need to think about the time that is involved with that. Then I need to multiply it by 7...because that is how many times I'm going to be doing it. That is time I just don't have. I mean have you seen some of these birthday parties???? Handmade banners, fancy cupcakes, DIY party favors, themed games, and on and on. Just visit Pinterest and you'll see what I'm talking about. Or maybe you've attended a few yourself. Of course you can buy a lot of these things pre-made an save yourself the work, save yourself some time but that comes with a price tag, which leads me to....
COST: It is expensive to throw a birthday party. Even if you make everything yourself, buy everything on clearance (because you've had the theme planned out for the past 11 months and hit every clearance shelf you encountered) and have it at home, it still costs money. I would say a modest, low-budget birthday party costs what, $100? Ok, now I just have to multiply that by 7. Am I willing to spend $700/year just on decorations, party favors and cake??? No, sorry, I'm not. Imagine the parties where a place is rented out, lunch is served, and activities are prepared. You're talking some serious cash. I know I've attended birthday parties where I am almost certain the party favors we took home cost more than the gift I gave! To me that is insanity! Leading me to my next point....
SANITY: Do you know how crazy I would get if I was planning 7 themed birthday parties a year? I know myself and I can get really caught up in planning parties...I love to plan parties. Its not my lack of desire that keeps me from the all out birthday bash. I have so much to do that if I added birthday party planning to my list I know it would send me over the edge.I would obsess over the perfect theme, just the right party favors and games. I'd be on Pinterest day and night searching for the latest and greatest birthday trends. I'd feel the need to be at the stores constantly to see what's on sale and stressing over whether or not to make the cake myself (rarely a good idea) or buy one and if I'm going to buy one am I a bad mom if I go with Shaw's or does it have to come from a fancy bakery? You see what I mean?
EXCESS: Also, I really don't like the idea of inviting 10 or so friends to a birthday party, every single year, for every child. First, all those families feel the burden of bringing a gift. Not everyone has it in their budget to provide a gift, and you know yours is not the only party they are being invited to. Its hard enough at times to just provide for your own family! Second, children do not need to be receiving 10 or so toys, most of which they will tire of in a week, on top of what they are already receiving from their family. Even if you tell people the gift is not necessary, you know they are going to bring one because that's what you do at birthday parties. Wouldn't it be cool if parents had their kids choose a charity or two that families could give to instead of bringing a gift?
Basically this is what it boils down to. Like the holidays, we tend to keep birthday's modest. We feel that our money is better spent being used toward an experience or outing for the child rather than on a big birthday party. Activities like going to a theme park, museum, movie theater, etc. are things I would much rather spend my money on since we just don't have it in our budget to do these things every weekend. The only time this is different is for the 1st birthday. This is my FAVORITE birthday. I don't know why, maybe because I'm just so proud of us for surviving another year of taking care of an infant but I love them and do plan a theme and invite family. The other time this will be different is for a milestone birthday, but even then it's low-key compared to what many do!
In our family we look at birthday's as an opportunity to make that individual feel like the day is all about them...because in a big family it very rarely is ever about any one person. It can't be. And I just don't feel the big birthday bash is necessary to accomplish this goal. What I will do is let them choose their favorite breakfast, lunch and dinner and make that for them...within reason. I let them choose the kind of cake they want and the theme. Sometimes I make it or sometimes I buy it...from Shaw's! I also will buy paper plates and napkins to go with the theme to eat dinner on. We ask them what they would like to do that day and try to make it happen...again, within reason. If my family is able to come down, which they are VERY good about doing, then that is the party. If it's their birthday they don't have to do their chores for that day and usually they are allowed to stay up a little later than everyone else. These things may seem small but to my kids these are big things that make them feel special.
Everything we do for our kids is a teachable moment and helps shape the kind of individual they will become. We really feel teaching our kids moderation at a young age is invaluable, especially when we live in a world where the philosophy seems to be "the more the better". As cliche as it sounds, we really believe "less is more" and that is the approach we take when it comes to birthday's...and life in general.
So, how do you celebrate?