Reclaiming Simple Birthdays- Celebrate People, Not Stuff

We stopped having birthday parties for my kids long before Pinterest came about, and I am thankful. I can only imagine if I lived in that world where I have to keep up with a Pinterest party!

We had a few birthday parties for my kids early on, but then decided we would just do pizza and cake with family. Then on their actual birthday, the birthday child could choose a special day. We could go on a day trip to a museum or a special dinner…whatever they wanted. That has worked out well over the years.

What worries me is not that we want to make fun and creative parties. I’m all for fun and creative! But as always, I think about the heart. Are we teaching our children that a birthday party is about something that it really isn’t?

Birthday parties have become celebrations of stuff and details rather than the person. We can get so wrapped up in having that perfect decor, that we spend way too much time (and money) trying to make it just right. The focus isn’t on the person, but on the stuff.

Kids want to know that they are important, not the details. They will look back some day and say, “I had a great day with my family and friends…”  and not necessarily, “I had princess cupcakes, a dinosaur cake, and all the decorations matched perfectly.”

The amount of time (and money) we spend on the preparation and then implementing those details would probably be best spent hanging out with our kids. 

We recently had a graduation celebration for my 8th grader. She worked on all of the decorations herself…it was homemade, and not everything matched. Yet, she loved doing it, and I love that she helped and we were able to keep cost down and time spent together up.

My tips for keeping birthdays simple, special, and memorable:

1. If your child wants a party, then have them help decorate. It won’t be picture perfect, but they will enjoy it.

2. Homemade decorations- use what you have to spruce things up. They can make homemade decorations for practically no money, and better yet…you can spend the time together.
The point of the party is to celebrate LIFE…another year with a special person. Don’t get so focused on the stuff.

3. A plain ol’ cake. Sure it can be fun to make that perfect cake in your child’s favorite character—if that’s your thing. Some people love to do it and are good at it. Me, not so much 😉 It would stress me out. I stick with the old fashioned cake and throw a few sprinkles on top and call it a day. Tastes fine and fulfills the purpose.

4. Have an open house on birthday day. Practice hospitality and let everyone know they can drop by anytime during the afternoon or evening to spend time with the birthday child. Put out some snacks and cupcakes that can be enjoyed anytime a guest drops by.

5. Or forgot the party and choose a special day trip instead. Let them pick a place to visit, such as a museum, movie, beach…whatever! Spend the day as a family, and have a special meal.

Mostly, just remember that a birthday is a celebration of a life God has given. We should be focused on the person and not the stuff. Raise the next generation with a heart for God and not material items. That is a gift of enormous value.

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