A Very Merry Un-Birthday

On Sunday we hosted a birthday party for my daughter at our house. No, we didn’t have a magician. No, there was no “theme.” There weren’t matching party plates or gift bags stuffed with cheap plastic geegaws for the kids to take home. But yes, everyone actually had a good time! Instead of turning the event into a multi-hundred dollar spending frenzy, we invited as many people as we wanted to and kept things simple. The entertainment was a “Balloon Room” — my husband, father-in-law, and a friend who accidentally showed up a day too early for the party blew up hundreds of balloons to fill our playroom. It was (relatively) easy and certainly inexpensive, and the kids had a blast jumping around, knee-deep in balloons.

We told our guests that we wanted their presence, not their presents, so there was no tearing-through-gifts extravagance. Instead of getting a themed cake with Dora or Elmo on top, we got a plain cake, which Beatrice then decorated herself with sprinkles and colored sugar. And at the end of the party, the kids opened a pinata contained little stuffed monkeys, which they brought home along with bags of balloons (a self-cleaning party!)

In an era in which over-the-top birthday parties dominate, as this scary CNN story shows, I think celebrations can be made a lot simpler. And our children are just as happy — and often better off.

1 thought on “A Very Merry Un-Birthday

  1. Alishia

    I tried the “presence not presents” thing with my first child’s first birthday. People thought I was being nice. More than half the people still brought something. And I don’t remember and no longer own many of the presents from that party. My husband’s uncle didn’t bring anything and then felt silly showing up empty-handed when many others did not. I have often thought that raising the prices of toys would become prohibitive. I would love it. My MIL’s classic reason for buying something was that “it was only a buck” or whatever. I rarely keep these toys for more than a day. I have a constant flow of stuff into and out of my house. I feel I am not successful in prohibiting its arrival so I have stopped and merely prescribe to the way of life that has no loyalty to junk. If they wanted to keep it special they should keep it at their house, otherwise it’s victim to my purging!


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