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)