Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Simplifying Birthdays

Birthdays in our house come in clusters. We have two within 10 days in the spring (April 27, May 6), three within 20 days in the fall (October 27, 30, and November 11), and four within 40 days in the summer (July 2, July 29, and August 8 -- yes, I know that's only three dates, but I have twins).

With nine birthdays each year, it's been a bit of a challenge to figure out how to celebrate. When my oldest daughter turned 3, I was so excited because she was finally old enough for a party with her friends. We went all out and had a great time, and I continued throwing birthday parties for her and her brothers as they got older, but it didn't take very long for me to realize that, well, I just plain don't like throwing birthday parties. They're stressful an overwhelming. After nearly ten years as a mother, I think I've come to terms with the fact that I'm just not a crafty mom. Homemade party favors and fancy treat bags? I'd rather pass.

So our main celebration every year is a portion of our family home evenings (each Monday night we have a lesson, songs, and games together). On a Monday near the child's birthday, we give them presents and cards from the family and have them stand up while we take turns sharing all the things we like about them. It is so sweet to hear a child praised by her brothers and sisters and we enjoy reminding that child of their special place in our family. When possible, we invite the child's grandparents to come, both their biological and our adopted Hawaiin ohana.

My husband and I also take the child out to dinner sometime that week.

After getting burned out on birthday parties with friends those first few years, we decided to throw a big friend party just every other year. At first we thought we'd do it when the kids reached their even birthdays, but when we realized that most of the time that would be in the same year (we have births in 99, 00, 02, 04, 06, and 08), we changed our minds and decided that every other year, we'd throw a party for everyone in the family. 2008 was our year for friend parties, and we had lots of them.

But now, as we're approaching my oldest daughter's tenth birthday, I'm wondering if we should rethink our plans or bend the rules for her. She wants to have a party with her friends and I'm not opposed to it. We have space in our home for a gathering, and she's even thought of a few games she wants to play, like Apples to Apples. I'm sure she could plan most of it herself, so it would hardly be the major stressor that caused us to implement the "every other year" rule in the first place.

What do you think?

And how do you handle birthdays in your family?

(originally posted at 4 or more: Lots of Kids, Lots of Love)


Dina said...

Well....I only have 4 kids, so I'm not sure I can weigh in on this. :) We have a party for each child every year. Sometimes it's a big all out party at our house, sometimes it's rollerskating or another party type place. (I don't do homemade favors or party bags anymore and no one notices!) I love to celebrate another year and let this child feel special. It's also the only day of the year that all of their friends from various parts of their life are all together. (They have school friends, church friends, sports friends, past ward friends, past neighborhoods we've lived in--you get the idea.) They love it and after all the planning is done, we love it too. I realize that there are limits when you have many children, but I think you can have a party, make it as simple as you want and still have fun. One of my son's favorite parties was when he invited his 3 closest friends, they all hooked into the same computer network and played "Age of Empires" against each other. (It's a medieval army type game.) Then we had cake, opened presents and everyone went home! He loved it and it wasn't hard.

I'm all for parties! Good luck deciding.

alligood said...

We've struggled with this, as well, as my boys birthdays are all *so* close to one another (July 23, July 25, August 8th for the twins). If we do parties, it's a LOT of parties in a two week span. We tried the every other year thing, but I found that maybe I wasn't up to it each year...... Two years ago, Matt was diagnosed shortly after his and Will's birthdays, so parties were sort of out. Last year, everyone was (relatively) better than they had been, so I did a big friend party for each of them, sort of to celebrate. This year, we'll have a new baby, so I think we'll keep things pretty simple and do either a family party or a "you may invite 2 friends to do something fun" sort of party. At some point, I plan on renting out our community pool and having a gigantic birthday bash for all 4 of the older boys and their friends. I'm all about combining parties to stay sane since their birthday's are so close! I say let Lillian go for it. It sounds fun, won't be a lot of work for you, and will mean a lot to her.

Joy For Your Journey said...

First off, I have to admit I am the party queen. I love parties and usually organize birthday parties for all my friends. But, that said, I agree parties for young kids can be overwhelming, and exhausting. We went to the every year celebration and I liked that much better. But I will say that as kids get older, the parties get a lot easier, because you don't have to change activities every other minute and they can entertain themselves better. One of my favorite parties was when we did breakfast. Everyone came in their PJ's. We played a few games, ate breakfast, opened gifts and were done. I loved that!

But my vote . . . I think your daughter should get her party.:-)


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