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Thursday, April 25, 2013

15 Ideas For Keeping Kids' Birthdays Simple

A few years ago we decided that birthday parties were getting out of hand.  We wanted to simplify them somehow but still make them be a special day for the birthday kid.

We decided to keep the celebration group at a minimum - grandparents only.  Since we live away from all of my family, my parents usually visit for a weekend near each birthday, and this became the basis for our plans.

On Saturday we take a trip.  It could be something simple, like a picnic or hiking at a park.  We've also done more elaborate things, like purchased tickets to a play or gone to the zoo.  Whatever the plan, we aim for something that we think the birthday kid will really enjoy.  These trips make great surprises, but having their input is a definite plus.

Our Little Man on this year's birthday hike.

On Sunday we have the actual "party."  This consists of the birthday cake and a treat chosen by the birthday kid.  Usually this means the traditional ice cream, but My Little Man is a fruit fiend, and several times he's asked for a variety of fruit instead.  We invite both sets of grandparents to this, as well.

Our Little Man enjoying his requested hot dogs, fruit, and salad in front of the campfire.

This usually means that we're celebrating their special day on a day other than their actual birthday.  They understand that it's easier to travel over a weekend and that Daddy works during the week, but we try to make the actual birthday special, too.  Often this includes a simple playdate with friends and their choice of foods for a birthday dinner.  This is when they open the gifts from us, as well.

While this spreads out the celebration over several days, none of it is overwhelming.  I no longer have to prepare meals or snacks for 20+ people.  We don't have a crazy amount of presents to find homes or uses for, we don't have to worry about RSVPs or treat bags, and I don't have to pull any all-nighters to prep for the big day.

We started this new plan when our kids were still rather small, and so they don't remember anything different.  While it may be more complicated to transition older children to a simpler style of celebrating, it's definitely possible.

Some ideas for simple birthday celebrations:

  • museum passes
  • a zoo trip
  • hiking at a local park
  • exploring a landmark
  • attending a festival or street fair
  • visiting a farm
  • a tour pertaining to a special interest - a race track, a business, etc.
  • taking a class & learning how to do something new - make candles, cheese, soap, etc.
  • attending a ball game
  • visiting a special restaurant
  • having a game night
  • having a movie night
  • having a crafty night
  • going on a picnic
  • going to a DIY shop - make your own ceramics, baseball bats, tie-dye clothing, etc.
How do you celebrate your kids' birthdays?

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