Birthday parties are a racket. I don’t really believe in parties as a rule. I’m perfectly in favor of get-togethers, you know, where a bunch of people who enjoy each other’s company spend time together. But parties make me twitchy.
Once you call it a party and start making lists, it no longer becomes a party. Now it’s work. And no matter how happy everyone is at that party and how many great pictures you get, it’s still work.
Parties at our house take as little work as possible. And the great thing is that everyone is still really happy and we get lots of great pictures and that’s the stuff that matters. It’s actually pretty easy to have a low-key, super-happy party. Anyone can do it with these simple steps.
1. Talk to your child.
Parties can involve a lot of trappings: food, cake, presents, games, friends, and all that. But not all of that matters. Talk with your child about what they really care about this birthday. What are the things they want most? Seeing a few specific friends? Getting that perfect present? Doing something super cool with family or best friend instead of a party? Once you’ve set priorities, you’ve also set the things that you can worry about less. It’s all about managing expectations and helping to avoid meltdowns, tantrums, and tears.
2. Remember it’s not about you. It’s also not about what anyone thinks.
Your party doesn’t have to be pin-worthy. It doesn’t have to make anyone jealous. It will be just fine if it isn’t a legend for years to come. We spend an awful lot of time telling our kids it’s important that they be themselves and make themselves happy and not care what other people think. This is a great time to put that into practice. If you’re worried about tongues wagging, then give your party a theme that encourages simplicity and old-school fun. A few ideas for old-school-fun themes: bike riding, Olympics, dress up, or even coloring for the little ones.
3. Have the party and enjoy yourself.
See? That was awfully easy, wasn’t it?
For us, Graham cares most about actually having a party. He gets excited about the fact that it’s happening and that’s what’s most important to him.
We stay home or go to a park. There are lots of places with fancy birthday party options that Graham loves, but it’s not in the budget right now. But in the future? Yeah, I’d do it. Because we show up, we party, we leave, and I love the simplicity.
Favors and games can be simple and cheap. This year it was dollar-store squirt guns and running around the spray park.
I made cake mix cupcakes with purple frosting and sprinkles Graham picked out. He was pretty pumped about the frosting and sprinkles, probably more excited than he would have been about a fancy store-bought cake. And to go with it we had Hoodsie cups, which totally fit my no muss-no fuss style of party planning. I don’t even have to worry about scooping or bowls. No silverware. Not even any napkins, since there was a shower for spraying down just a few feet away.
I don’t know what it is about the Hoodsie cups. Maybe it’s just that it’s not their normal ice cream from a carton in the freezer. Maybe it’s that they each get their own little cup. Maybe the wooden spoons? But my kids love them and since not everyone we invited made it to Graham’s party, we have extras in the freezer that I can pull out as an after-dinner surprise.
With Graham’s party in the books, I’m off the hook until next year when Tessa turns 4. I’m guessing she’ll be old enough to want her own party by then. I’m not worried.
This post was sponsored by Hood, who provided product and compensation for this post. I was pretty thrilled when they asked to post about simple birthday parties using Hoodsie cups since that is totally my jam.