August 2, 2012

Some Thoughts on Kids' Birthday Parties

Random timing. I'm writing this because it was too long to leave in a comment on Apartment Therapy. (Love them.)
I can't help but feel a little turned off by the big trend surrounding children's birthday parties these days.  All matched up in a theme, with kids dressed to coordinate with the decor for photos to put on mommy blogs & pinterest.  
Some people really love doing this stuff, so I understand. 
Personally, I love re-arranging my kids' rooms.  It's like a hobby - making our home nicer is something I enjoy.  So really, I understand.
That said, I have five kids, ranging 5 to 14.  I did the math quickly & I've celebrated  36 birthdays & sometimes thrown multiple parties for each. (I counted Mason & Eric's birthday together, which it is.)
I've found for me it has worked best to focus more on the kid & less on prepping & how things will look in photographs.
Parties are for letting loose & having fun & wearing bold party hats & (gasp!) maybe not even matching. 
Birthdays are a time to be silly!
Beau's 5th birthday
Maybe my style is bohemian when it comes to birthday parties.  (Maybe when it comes to raising my kids, as well.)  I'd rather spend time catching frogs with them than running to dollar stores to shop for party favors & a whole bunch of one-time-use stuff.  And when it comes to the party, I'd rather my kids were doing, playing, rather than sitting at matching place settings. 
Maybe it's taken me 36 kids birthdays to be comfortable in saying all this.  
When the twins turned four, I tried to do a structured party.  That's what I remember most about it.  Not having fun.  Just trying to organize & direct, and none of it went as planned anyway.  When it comes to kids' parties, I've learned.  Or maybe I was just a failure at them.   ;)  
Some fond party memories that are fun to look back on:
Lilly's 6th birthday:  Her first girl party with kindergarten friends.  Sweet times to look back at.
Impromptu boating at Lilly's 7th birthday party.  The smiles on this summer day were the best!
For Lilly's recent 8th birthday party, she helped me make some pretty decorations, but what really mattered to her was getting silly with friends & a good game of kickball.  And choosing the treats.  Watermelon & cheese balls.  It's all about getting to choose their favorite things, the cake, the treats, where we go as a family & what they want to do with friends.  (Photo below & more of her recent 8th birthday party here.)
I strongly believe in kids having freedom to explore & create, and birthdays are a perfect time for it.  Make it special, make it festive or pretty.  But give them the spotlight & free reign to shine. (More than the decorations.)


  1. I totaly agree with you! I love to have a little theme for the kids birthdays. I do not do much decorating. The cake that I made myself that my child "ordered" is the decoration. I usually have a few activities for the kids to do that go with the theme, but not many. They ususally play in the sandbox outside or in our kids bedrooms. The parties are attended by only a few friends and family and are so pleasant.

    1. I'm glad you understand what I'm talking about! Our kids always "order" their cakes too. :) Friends, family, & fun!

  2. I love it that Lilly has posies of Lily of the Valley gathered for her birthday that came from Great-Great Grandma K's home many years ago...and that Johnathan really enjoys a bonfire on his birthday...and that Beau's smile is a standout memory from each of his birthdays ('cause he just smiles so wonderfully!)...and that there's always a football involved in Mason & Eric's day. Pretty fun stuff.

    1. Pointing out all of those things made me smile. They are very much a special part of celebrating each kid. :)

  3. It's true kids party doesn't mean decoration and flowered theme parties. It would be a fun thing for kids and Lillis Birthday Party was full of fun and exploring activities. So, happy to read about your Idea and fun moments of the party.
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  4. Nice to read this article.I also agree that having fun is the important for kids in any birthday party, kids don't attend party for commenting on decorations and arrangements, they just want to enjoy party and to have fun with their friends.

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  5. This is what I'm always telling my kids, a simple celebration for us family and close friends. I wanna expect more articles from you soon about families and bonds, it make me understand some ideas and lessons and thoughts as well. I am newly wed and have twins and I am still seeking for an opportunities through blogs for me to be practical in this life.
    kids birthday parties nyc I like!