Why We Stopped Having Birthday Parties (& What We Do Instead)

Birthdays. It’s something every person on earth has. Some people couldn’t care less about them (that’s me!), while others prefer to go all out for their special day, even celebrating their entire birthday month! 

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As time goes on, though, birthdays seem to lose a bit of their appeal and serve as a reminder that we are now another year older. But, for children, birthdays are a time of happiness and excitement. My children always look forward to their big day with great anticipation. They are proud to be turning a new age and like to remind me that they’re getting older. They love having a day that is just for them and doesn’t even care that there will not be a big, over-the-top birthday party in celebration of this special day.

When my kids were younger, we did elaborate, themed parties with our friends and family. There was food, Pinterest-worthy tableware and decorations, games, and of course, a fancy cake. And while it was nice seeing everyone to celebrate, I found it was all too much—too much money, too much time and too much stress. I was tired at the end of the day, and so were my children. So, after a few years of these kinds of parties, I decided to try something new—and thankfully, it worked!

I asked my kids if they would rather have a big birthday party as we had done before or if they wanted to do a fun activity for their birthday instead. Both kids wasted no time saying they would prefer to do something fun over having a big party. To say I was relieved and overjoyed would be an understatement! I was thrilled that they picked this option and wanted to ensure that whatever we replaced the big party with would be fun and meaningful for them. I think it’s safe to say that it worked because we have not had a “regular” birthday party since.

Instead, we now celebrate their birthdays by taking the day off from school (we homeschool, so this works well for our family) and going somewhere fun. It is always something simple like a local park or playground, museum, mini-golf, bowling, the beach, or a new hiking spot. It’s never anything fancy or expensive, but they’re happy because they get to pick the place themselves and spend a day having fun together (while also getting to miss a day of school!). And not only do they get to pick the place we go to that day, but they also choose what meal we will eat later that evening. Sometimes it’s food from a restaurant, and sometimes it’s their favorite homecooked meal, but either way, it’s all about them and what food they want that night. Their grandparents join us, and to make the meal even more special. They decide what theme they want, and we look for plates and cups that match that theme, whether it’s horses, mermaids, dinosaurs, or race cars. We look for fun plates and cups to use for our dinner and the cake that night.

After dinner they open gifts and then their favorite part—the cake! I have always made my kid’s birthday cakes. It is something I like to do for them each year. They get so excited to help design their one-of-a-kind cake, picking what they want it to look like and what flavors it will be. These cakes are definitely the most time-consuming (and at times, stressful!) part of their birthdays, but it’s worth it to me to see the joy on their faces when they look at the cake that was made just for them.

Now that we’ve been doing birthdays in this low-key, simple way, I can’t imagine going back to having big, elaborate parties ever again. I know that some people love to throw over-the-top celebrations, and if it works for them, that is great, but it isn’t for us. My kids are delighted with our way of celebrating. Every year they get excited about their birthday, love to remind me that they are a whole year older, eagerly await our fun day and meal together, enjoy opening gifts, and smile from ear-to-ear when they see a cake made just for their special day. All the laughter and smiles from that day tell me that our new way of celebrating seems to be working out just fine.

Hello! I'm Mandy, a homeschooling mom to two silly, awesome kids. I am also a blogger who writes about the things I enjoy most - education, family fun, faith, life hacks, travel, and all things related to mom life. You can learn more about me and my work at simplycreativejourney.com.



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