Thursday, April 09, 2009

How Fun a Family Birthday Party can be!

The other day I blogged about the book I am loving...Hold on to your Kids. (Link at the bottom, since I hae no clue how to link it here to a phrase).

In that blog, I talked about how I have had a long time issue/concern with the whole big birthday party phenomena that I seemed to have gotten wrapped up in, and see many other families wrapped up in as well.

The financial issues, of course, the expectation issues I am cultivating into my children, greediness even, with an over abundance of gifts, and now, with reading the Hold On to Your Kids, the peer influence/impact over the family/parent impact. I had longed for a small, family only, you-are-so-special-to-us flavor of birthday party. And I have tried it three times. Twice with success and once without. (I will share that story at the bottom of this post, as it is not pertinent right now.)

One thing that hit me today, as I read two different posts on SouleMama's blog around birthday about an "Art Party" and one about a "Medieval Party", and I thought ....that is part of the key of making this work with my kids.

Besides the explaining to the older two, my reasons why we are stopping the big bash, friends over kind of parties and being ready to deal with the resistance.... I need something more. My reasons might appeal to the intellect, logical, why, but not to the emotions. The sense of missing out or loss. So the "aha" I had was to still have a themed, make it fun and magical, party with the family only. And Momma become a kid with them. Dress up, play games around the theme....invite grandparents and have them play games. And celebrate the specialness of this child with the specialness that is family.

And then, when I read one readers comment on the medieval party, that said: How absolutely cool! You are right - there is nothing more magical than a child's birthday. Don't you wish our own birthdays were still that magical?

And I thought...Why not!!??

Why not make the 'grown-ups" in the family have magical, family, birthday parties too? We kind of did that one year, when we did a double birthday celebratation for my mom and me, (our birthdays are 3 days apart) and being grown-ups...we had a Hello Kitty themed family only birthday celebration just for us. It was a blast and the kids got a kick out of.

Complete with goodie bags just for the family...(6 of us at the time, with grandma and grandpa too).

It was a blast.

So as I transition our family from the big bash, that is so popular, to the intimate family birthdays, my timing could not be better.

The next child's birthday in our family is not until June. I plan to have the discussion with my kids now, and I already can imagine the protests....but my birthday is later this I will be the first guinea pig and showcase just how fun family can be to my kids!

So any ideas.....what kind of a themed party should I have?


Footnote: On the three successes and one failure I had experienced. For Mary's 3rd, 4th and 5th birthday, we had only family parties. Being adopted one month away from 3, she had never experienced a big birthday party. I have not sent her to any that she has been invited to either. So she had no concept of it needing to be anything OTHER than family celebrating her birthday. The Tinkerbell party at the top of the blog, was her party last year.

The failure, was when Nick turned 4. I planned to skip the "invite friends" and just have a family party. The night before, he innocently asks me, so how many of my friends are coming tomorrow? GULP! I felt so guilty, I had not even discussed it with him, thinking HE WOULD NOT NOTICE???!!! lol. I called all around that night, in a panic, and got his best friends mom, who agreed to come over the next day, even with a last minute invite. It ended up being fun for both, but I learned, talk about it WAY in advance, when a birthday is not even in sight.

Another couple thoughts:

When you child is mourning and upset over the whole friend thing, make a special playdate with one friend one of the birthday presents you give your child, but at a later date. And make it something YOU do with them. Like I will take you and your friend to a waterpark, or minature golfing or something, and make it a gift.

Also, for families with only one child, make the birthday party a special activity or event that you do just for them...or give them that "day with mom at ___________" gift as part of the party.

One last thought, the other challenge with this, is turning down the party invites that your child receives. The challenge of not offending or preaching, yet being firm in your family decision. Just let the other parent know a little of why you are not doing big parties, without being preachy. Why for your kids it is better. And thank them for the invite.

For your child, that feels like they are missing out, you can remind them of the reasoning (which they probably won't give a hoot for or understand), then offer an alternate activity with the family. Maybe even a future family activity, non-birthday related, where you can invite that friend over to go with the family. I often find, some of the birthday invites my kids get are not from close friends, but just acquaintances or classmates, that they would not be visiting, if it were not for a party invite.

Food for thought. I would love to hear others ideas on this!

Link to the blog about Hold On to Your Kids:

1 Things Others Said:

crispy said...

I have some birthday party SLEEPOVER thoughts that I can't share on my own blog (because of a few readers).

We recently went to a birthday party sleepover party (just this week) and I have decided that was it for those. No more sleepovers. I think I am done with them for a few reasons. Though I feel really comfortable with the few families that have invited us to these, in general I don't like the idea of spending the night at other people's homes.

My youngest came home at 11:30 because she didn't want to spend the night. And my oldest said that they didn't get to sleep until 3:00 in the morning.

When your kids are used to boundries that make them feel comfortable (like going to bed before it gets too late) and they are in an environment that lets the kids stay up as late as they want...I think it is a bad combination.

My kids were a mess the next day and we had to head to the symphony early in the morning.

As for family parties, I love them but our family is so small. Often no grandparents around and no cousins or aunts and uncles. So we have often invited a family over to help celebrate. I like having families over to celebrate rather than 15 kids that may not be well behaved.

Sorry for the long response. It was nice to share some of those feelings.