Sunday, January 17, 2010

Birthdays in a big family

With five children, birthday parties can get expensive, time consuming to plan and exhaustive as well. Recently, I came up with a plan to make each child's birthday special, but not break the bank.

First, each of their birthdays is a holiday off from school. We don't take time off for teacher conferences and other such things, so I figure that birthdays have to be right there near the top of a kid's list for a holiday. So no lessons for everyone on that day. If it falls on a weekend, they get to pick which day they would like to take off. Cost: $0

Second, no chores for the birthday child. We all pitch in to take up their share. Cost: $0

Third, the birthday child gets to pick all three meals and what kind of cake to have. This has to be done beforehand, but not a problem...birthday child usually plans for months in advance what favorite meals they're going to pick. They always remind me when we are food shopping to pick up the foods needed. Cost: usually not much more than what we would have spent for meals anyway.

Fourth, my husband is proficient at making balloon animals. He always makes a balloon bouquet for the birthday girl on her chair in the kitchen. We'll have to come up with a "boy" balloon for little fella. Hubby makes a great monkey on a palm tree. He would love that! Cost: $0

Fifth, and this one's pretty neat. Last year, I picked up this ceramic birthday cupcake in Marshall's. The idea is that you place the birthday cupcake at the seat of the birthday child first thing in the morning. Then, shortly after breakfast, the cupcake "disappears". The child has to find the hidden cupcake and discover what's inside. It can be a new lip balm, sparkly nail polish, earrings, little car, a coupon for book, or even a photo of something that won't fit inside the cupcake. You get the idea. They are LOVING the birthday cupcake! Cost: initially $11, then cost of the prize can obviously vary.

And we always have cake and a few special presents from all of us. They seem to be loving these birthday traditions. We love it because it recognizes our children's special day, we celebrate it together as a family, and they are not flooded with more and more presents. We are always trying to keep the "gimmees" at a minimum, so I think we have hit on a beautiful way to celebrate the day. We may give the little ones one or two more parties with friends because their older siblings have had those, but they can be spread out at least. We were finding that we would often invite whole families, rather than just one child from a family, and if one of our kids was sick, or a couple of friends, we would have to reschedule. By the time that got rescheduled, it was time for the next child's birthday to be planned. So we have arrived at the "Birthday Holiday".

Other ideas I've heard for families with many children was that each year, one child got to have a party that year, then the next year would be someone else's turn. Great idea! Another was from a book I read called Love in the House by the Jeub's. They would have a Jeub Family Birthday Bash once a year and invite as many people as they would like, everyone would bring a dish and they would just have this great big party. Sounds like a lot of fun. I've also thought it would be nice for something like that, that if someone feels compelled to bring a gift that the family could pick a charity each year and guests could bring something for the charity instead of a gift. Hope these ideas spark your creativity and help you to enjoy each child's special day in a memorable way! Please feel free to share any ideas you'd like to share about birthdays in the comments area!

May the Lord bless your day abundantly!