I swing wildly on the kids’ birthday party pendulum.
Wait, you didn’t know there was a kids’ birthday party pendulum?
It goes like this: On one side, the I just-threw-this-together party. Simple, with little planning, decor, or theme. Costs tend to be minimal, but also depend on whether or not you get last-minute inspiration and hit up Hobby Lobby the night before.
(Also on this side: the no-party party. Just a quiet dinner with family).
On the other side? The I’ve-been-pinning-on-Pinterest-since-her-last-birthday party. Generally a clear theme reflected in decor, invitations, favors, and activities.
Typically more expensive, but planning ahead allows for spreading out party supply purchasing over months before the event–so you don’t realize you’ve spent hundreds on baby girl’s first birthday unless you audit yourself.
(Hubs, are you reading this? Don’t freak, I’ve never spent hundreds on a party).
So, like I said, I swing between the two.
Bun’s first birthday? Huge hoopla. 30+ guests, full lunch served. No discernible theme (unless you count “scraps of fabric”) but there was a fantastic Martha Stewart lemon curd cake and a baby Julia trivia game.
Buckaroo’s second birthday? Sorry, buddy. The one family we invited over for cake had travel plans, so you just enjoyed the company of Mommy, Daddy, big Sister, and your new trucks.
But actually? He thought everything was lovely. (His words, of course).
Frankly, my kids don’t care which side of the pendulum I’m hanging out on. As long as they feel loved on their special days, they’re fine.
And having spent time on each end, I’m not going to promote either as best. As in most things, it’s the heart behind what I’m doing/not doing that matters.
So I’ve come to feel the freedom to embrace different approaches in different seasons of life.
I’ve learned that I will rarely have the energy to do anything extravagant for Buck’s December 23rd birthday. Unless I plan waaay in advance. For now, that’s fine. He’s two, has zero birthday party expectations, and very few little friends.
And last year, we kept things small for Bun’s birthday, too: just a day filled with some simple favorite things, a quiet family dinner, and “strawberry cake.” (= Strawberry shortcake? In any case, that’s what I made).
I love keeping birthday celebrations small and simple. For me, there’s less temptation to stress and make it about more than my kid feeling loved and special.
But this year?
Come January, I packed Christmas decor away and promptly created a new Pinterest board for my little big girl’s April birthday party. I can’t say why, but I had visions of tea parties, pink decorations, and fanciness dancing in my head.
We’d invite a few little friends and their mommies, eat cake off of china (because I like to live dangerously), read a favorite story together, and bust up a piñata (because, really, who doesn’t love a piñata?)
I wanted to make something fun and pretty for Bun–because she loves fun and pretty. And it brings me joy.
I made a few decorations with my mom, who was visiting the week before the party. Had she not been in town, I’d have brought out the same scraps of fabric I used for Bun’s first birthday party.
As it was, I made new scraps of fabric decor. A woman of habit, I am.
We served the little girls a variation of this cake, some cups of fresh fruit, and pink lemonade. The mommies had coffee and snacked on bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese and sweet potato chips with guacamole.
Bun and her guests did story time, colored pretty pictures with glittery crayons, made impressive efforts to demolish the piñata, and went home with packets of flower seeds to sow.
It was fun and pretty with out feeling crazy. Bun loved it.
This year, the fancier side of the birthday pendulum felt just right.
How do you celebrate birthdays?