Slice of Birthday, Hold the Guilt! – Celebrating Birthdays Your Way
Alright, Ms. Judgy McJudgerpants, this article was a little bit inspired by you. You know who you are! You’ve got a world of mamas in a tizzy. Party planning expert mamas who love themes and set the world of Pinterest on fire are told they are way too over the top and need to dial it back. Mamas who embrace simplicity and time honored restraint are told they aren’t creative enough and are not giving their children the birthday they deserve. ::insert tired eye roll:: What the gracious is going on here?
Take a mental picture of you and your 4 closest friends. Think of the variety of talents and interests that are in this group. Now multiply that by a factor of All The Mamas. That was a drawn out way of saying “We’re All Different”. When it comes to birthdays, Mom One likes to put a pretty banner on mantel, have a cake, family, and some outdoor games. That’s great! Mom Two likes to send out formal invitations 3 weeks in advance, has french fries formed into the Eiffel Tower, and can submit pictures from the party to social magazines. That’s great! Mom Three plans an event that involves the community and acts as a fundraiser for a worthy organization while celebrating the life of her child. That’s great! See the common theme? What each mom does well and does comfortably is the best way for her to throw a party. And guess what Mamas…. YOU need to quit feeling guilty that you’re not throwing your party like the other Mom over there.
For the first few years of a child’s life, birthday parties are for the parents. We can admit that. Little ones don’t know what a birthday is! From about 13’ish and up, birthday parties need to involve some fun, family and friends without a lot of extra over-planning by parents. It’s that middle ground where the parties can seem to cause the most hand-wringing. But it’s not complicated! Here are what some birthday-savvy kids said were the most important things to have at a birthday party.
Henry (age 6): “cake, presents, and singing Happy Birthday”
Celia (age 4): “cake, presents, and candy canes!”
Noah (age 11): “having it somewhere fun, being with friends, and presents”
Molly (age 7): “having fun, friends, having a good time”
As anyone can see by the list, the desires of kids are pretty simple. They just want to be with people who are fun. They want to laugh. They want to play. Cake, presents, and apparently candy canes are all that are needed to make the day special. As long as you have those fun basics covered, then you’re GOLDEN. Then, if party planning lights up your creative bone, turn your cupcakes into Cinderella’s dress, by all means. No guilt allowed for getting fancy and no guilt allowed for not getting fancy. In fact, so long as 3 rules are followed, then you have done your job and the other details are ALL GOOD.
Simply put, if your party-n-presents budget is $150, then that’s all you spend. Period. A good birthday is about making your baby feel special. And that doesn’t require blowing your family budget.
Maintain the Basics
Cake (or whatever dessert is your kid’s favorite), some presents, friends, family, lots of hugs, a joyful round of the Happy Birthday song, and playful activities that your child thinks are fun are all you HAVE to do. Get the basics in, then you can do whatever you want after that.
You Be You
Know thyself! If you want to throw a big, ornate shindig because it’s really fun for you, go for it! If your talents don’t involve party planning, keep it small and simple and everyone will feel the love you’re sending out. And do NOT look at another mom’s party and criticize, agreed?
Being able to celebrate your child is a wonderful blessing, so keep it pure. Put on your mental blinders to what other parents have done, and then do what is right for your family. (Stop criticizing yourself!) Support other moms in their heartfelt efforts. We can all celebrate the kids with joy and ZERO guilt!
Leah O’Gwynn Kackley is the mom of three in the Rez/Fannin area. She is not one of the moms who is gifted with party planning skills and spent too much time early on trying to be that mom. Now she and her husband Jason do what they do best and birthdays are flexible and fun!