And I want to celebrate the day of her birth with all the pomp and circumstance befitting such a joyous moment in my heart. I can recall the moment she came into the world with crystal clarity. My heart was so full. It continues to be full...overflowing, even. Sometimes overwhelmingly so.
How do you capture that joy each year? How can you recreate and display your deep, rushing feelings to her and those around her on that one special day, a day designed to celebrate her, celebrate the graciousness of having her in your life for another year, celebrate those who love her too and support her with their time, love, and energy?
Well Pinterest tells me to go all out, of course. Make it pretty. Make it special. Try these tricks and those snacks and that game and this theme. Special invites. Special cake. Special decorations. Because she is special. And those who love her are special. And it's time to show everyone exactly how special they are to you....right?
...what if instead of gorgeous table displays I have broken steps?
...what if instead of a picture-perfect sunset I have a thunderstorm?
...what if I don't have much money to spend?
...what if I'm truly too tired and beat up to hand-make decorations and food and invites and favors...?
What if my vision of "special" can't be realized? How can I recreate my joy without falling victim to the cultural trap I find myself in each and every year....buy....buy....BUY! Make....make....MAKE! Do it BIGGER! Do it PRETTIER! Look, we found another super-easy way to be super-simple and super-chic and super-relaxed and super-put-together and still host 50 people at your house!
I had to redefine how to express my joy. How to celebrate my child. How to capture happiness. And you know what? It worked.
Now before I reveal what I did, let me explain this is not the first time I've gone cheap and easy with a birthday party. My oldest daughter gets a cheap and easy party each year - and her birthday is in the winter, too! The post I wrote about her Frozen birthday party is my most-read post to date. If you're looking for some easy winter party ideas, check it out.
But my second baby's birthday is in May. Right around Memorial Day weekend. That's outdoor party season. And prime storm time up here in the northern midwest. I like to live on the edge. How did I pull it all off?
I had two beautiful friends co-host with me. One has a son who shares a birthday around the same time, the other is married to a May birthday man. Find someone who has something to celebrate around the same time as your kid and ask if you want to combine parties. It splits responsibilities and makes the entire party much easier to handle.
This meant no decorations, no intense cleaning inside my house, no space issues or seating arrangements necessary. Our decor included trees and grass and pretty May flowers. Some people like to string lights and hang balloons and all that....but I have chickens. They kinda check all the entertainment boxes.
Make a Backup Plan.
The day of the party it poured and rained and rained and poured. We made good use of my garage. I'd moved all the cars out. And emptied out some of the crap in there. And swept the whole place out. It provided a really nice, dry place for us to put the food and the adults.
Simple Games and Fun.
Do you have any idea just how much kids love to play in the rain? We had a mudpie kitchen along one side of the fence. Bugcatchers. A swing. The chickens. Balls and frisbees and a teeny little slide. A scavenger hunt I printed from Google. I made this truck tent by nailing a tarp to the ledge above my garage door.
As I'm sure you can see, nothing fancy. Just some rain, mud, and plenty of room to run. And boy did the kids run. My kid, the birthday girl, had mud all over her face, hands, and legs throughout the entire party. Kids went barefoot. I found a lone, small sock in my garage the next day. A little kid sock. A little reminder that it doesn't take much to keep people happy...especially miniature people.
Food Instead of Presents.
We had a lot of food. I provided drinks - beer and "moonshine" for the adults, water and apple juice for the kids. We set up a hot dog bar. Another awesome friend of mine brought an ice cream bar. We stuck candles into plastic bowls of ice cream and sang happy birthday.
The party was fun. Kids were wet and dirty and tired. Food and drink were consumed mercilessly. I didn't break the bank. I didn't break myself. It was good.
And on the day of her actual birthday, in the middle of the week, I took her to a local candy store and let her go nuts. It cost me $8.
We followed it up with a long reading session at the library.
I remember sitting with her, looking over her shoulder at the book she picked out, realizing that in just a few years she might not fit on my lap. She might not get the same excitement from dancing in the rain, or picking out her favorite piece of candy from a candy store. But dammit all if I'm not going to try and instill those simple joys into her heart, one birthday at a time.
Anyone have their own birthday party stories to share? What is your favorite tradition? I'd love to hear about it in the comments down below and as always, thank you so much for reading :)