Birthday philosophizing

Jeremy turned 9 in May. It was fun celebrating with a family party, and then a gang of ten boys a few days later. Someone at school once said to me, “You are so good about having all these kids over for birthday parties.” Like I deserve sainthood or something. Ha! Well, I can’t say that I look forward to the experience… I just hope to survive it. I figure I can deal with a few hours a few days in the year that are super busy and slightly crazy.

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Jeremy at his family birthday party.

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Jeremy’s cake for his class party. It’s supposed to be a lego minifigure head for my lego obsessed boy.

Here’s my philosophy about birthdays.  Birthdays are super exciting for kids.  Having friends over is doubly so.  So don’t worry about your neat house.  Why not inconvenience yourself and let the hoards come over for a couple hours.  You don’t need to clean the house – just tidy it and be a little organized and prepared.  And have your husband at home if you can. It is a chance to get to know the other kids in your child’s class, and also meet parents when they come to pick their kids up.  We usually end up chatting in the front yard as the kids run circles around us on scooters.

Here’s how we work the birthday thing in our home. Every other year till they are about thirteen, they can have all the boys or girls in their class for their birthday party. This is usually held on a Friday, after school till 7 pm or so.  The other year they can invite a few friends over for their birthday.  This way I will not have three big parties within one month.  We also have a family party when I usually have my mother and father-in-law, sister Nicolette and family, Scott’s sister Kathy over and any Canadian family that happen to be down. Family parties are easy affairs…. cake and coffee. Once in awhile (like last year for Katrina’s 13th) I invite the whole family clan for a birthday party.

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Kids birthdays are not too fancy.  We usually have the party at home. Taylor and friend Chris were a great help with Jeremy’s party, planning out a treasure hunt for two teams the day before, and then running the hunt the day of the party. This year we had different stations the kids rotated through.  Basketball, trampoline soccer, air hockey etc.  Taylor and Chris organized this as  well.  (Hurray for older helpers!) Soccer is always fun, splitting the boys into teams. Since three of my kids birthdays are in late spring, our pool, slip and slide and sprinklers have often played big parts in their parties.

I decorate with what I have at home – usually balloons, and some streamers, maybe matching, maybe not.  I always make a cake which I ice and decorate, but I never go all out.  I have never made a choo choo train cake although I have admired them from afar 🙂  Winnie the Pooh from a special cake pan was my biggest stretch.   My kids are happy if they have two colors of icing on their cake.  The cake is always spice cake (basically like a carrot cake minus the carrots and raisins etc., with a cream cheese icing).  Goody bags consist of candy, maybe a glow stick, lego minifigure or hotwheel car.  Girl parties are easier because they aren’t so physically intense (running after hyper boys) but harder because there is more of an expectation to do a cool craft etc. of which I am not that type.  However, since Katrina is so creative, she usually comes up with her own fun involving putting on plays with lots of dressing up and video recording.

I have noticed that people often have big birthdays for their really little kids (say four and under) and then it fizzles out when they are in grade one or two.  I think little kids don’t care about all the fuss… they just like to eat some icing off their cake and open a few presents.  Older kids really enjoy birthdays, and the older they get, the easier their parties get.  So save your energy moms, for the years that really count.  Your kids will remember fondly the birthday parties you were willing to have.  I remember that my mom (mother of 10 kids) regularly let us have (non-fancy) birthday parties, even into high school.  If she could do it, I have no excuse!

~ Lora

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About Lora

I am a 40 something wife to my patient and talented husband Scott, Mom to my five children (from toddler to teen) and oldest sister to eight siblings. I am interested in too many things, love to read everything around me, and have developed a strong interest in design and renovation along with my husband. I am conservative, Christian, and by the grace of God, trying to find His way through the ups and downs of my life.
This entry was posted in celebrations, child's play, decorating, family, kids, outdoor fun and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Birthday philosophizing

  1. Yes! I still remember having a birthday party around the age of 8 or 9, when there was a snowstorm and a bunch of the girls couldn’t be brought home and so it turned into a sleepover party! Having a party definitely makes memories. And as a teacher, I find that many of your tips are excellent: being organized and prepared, keeping it simple, and physical activity for the boys/crafts for the girls…..

    • Lora says:

      That must have been so exciting. Snowstorms are fun as it is… unexpected sleepover? Sheer fun for a bunch of girls!
      I try to have some things planned for the parties, but if they are all happy playing soccer etc. I will gladly abandon my plans. Also, don’t sweat all pretty decorations… they’re more to impress the moms who won’t see them anyway 😉

  2. Sandra says:

    Lora, I couldn’t agree more! I personally think parents should allow their children to have a party with their friends, after all it’s only once a year! It’s a great inconvenience but such great memories are made! I never really had a birthday party because mine was always Up North, but how I loved Heidi’s every year!
    I’ve done the choo-choo train thing cake, haha, but only for the family. I enjoy it (although the train cake was a flop!). Here celebrating birthdays are a must, although not necessarily for adults. The kids bring in a treat to school (Eva’s going to celebrate her birthday early at her preschool group and she’s going to hand out banana ‘dolphins’ – healthy and simple!), and then on their afternoon off, usually on Wednesday following their birthday they have a celebration. Lots of noise, and yes, organization is much more important than a clean house! I have the challenge of David’s birthday being in the grey autumn months, so I’m going to have to be creative in the future. We don’t have a basement to revert to! Scavenger hunts are always a great hit. And simple crafts are fun for girls. I must admit I do get a little worked up about it all, but that’s just who I am. I’m not doing it to impress, I just am a micro-organizer, something that doesn’t always work out with kids and parties!
    Thanks for sharing all your wisdom! And yes, moms, go out there. Jump out of your comfort zone and throw a birthday party for your kids to remember for years to come!

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