I love my kids' birthdays. I try really hard to make it a whole day of celebration. I don't want the day to be lost in the presents you got, the ones you didn't get, or the struggle to share new toys. I don't want birthdays to be about the stuff they're going to get, but to be a celebration of who they are, what they mean to our family. As a parent, it is an opportunity to find deeper ways of showing them how loved they are. Here are some ways we emphasize celebration over gifts:
Decorations! We hang streamers or bunting, pick flowers, and use table cloths and set up games, so when the girls first wake up, they know today is special. I don't necessarily buy decorations, we mostly use our special occasion linens and buntings, but we do like to pick up a few fun party favors. I usually lay out special clothes for the kids, too, because they still love dress up.
Memories. We talk a bit in the morning about growing up and all of our old memories. This year I was glad to be able to pull out our family albums and show them pictures from each of their past birthdays, and we talked about the ways they have changed - getting taller, longer hair, learning new words, writing, etc.
Food! Of course there's the birthday cake, made in a silly shape. But, I also try to make a whole meal (or two meals) of special foods the girls like, or things we don't have often. This year, Lou requested sausage balls like we have at Christmas.
A meal. We had a little tea party this year, so the entire meal felt like a special event. We ate finger foods, and had chocolate milk in our teapot and tea cups. John and I drank our coffee in little child size tea cups, too - which added another layer of fun. We also used our best (silliest) polite voices and everyone helped everyone get their food (rather than me fixing their plates). We eat together most days, so it is important to make this meal feel different than our usual family dinner.
Games! Kids love to play games, but more importantly, they love to play with us! So we spent the day playing together. I made a hopscotch game on the floor using painter's tape. John and I had to google the rules, and we had an awesome time learning and teaching it to the kids. This has become one of my favorite parts of birthdays - a whole day that I give them my attention and play with them without being distracted by all of the other things I need to do.
Presents. Of course, there still are a few presents. Not very many, but we spent much of the day playing with the presents with the kids. The joy wasn't so much about the thrill of opening too many packages but enjoying learning new games, playing pretend, and reading new books together. (Here the girls and I played with eeboo's awesome Tell Me a Story card game.)
|L's one birthday present request was that mommy make her another dog.|
How do you celebrate little birthdays? How do you de-emphasize stuff and emphasize love?