Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Birthday Parties

My kids' birthday are bittersweet affairs for me. I like to make the day special for them, to spend some time really celebrating them. I get a little choked up singing Happy Birthday. Each year, I am smacked anew at how big they are getting, how fast it goes, and how I'm so lucky to have such awesome little people in my life.

Of course, we have presents. My girls like to open them in their p.j.'s right after breakfast, while it's just our family around.

There's always some kind of cake and candles. This year, Marin wanted chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and strawberries on top. She got her wish, and she didn't even notice that the "4" candle was reused from her sisters' past birthday. She had such a hard time blowing the candle out though- look at her face! She's lucky she didn't break blood vessels in her eyes.

We also have a traditional "birthday banner" that we hang for all of our family's birthdays. And I always buy a bunch of balloons for the birthday girl(s). (The twins each get their own bunch.)

David's family traditionally does "grandparents and godparents" for the kids' birthdays on his side. With 17 nieces and nephews, this makes a ton of sense- instead of doing the whole family for each kid. However, Marin comes up reaaaallly short in the "grandparent and godparent" department as my parents have never come for her birthday, and her godparents are scattered far and wide. Therefore she's had "kid" parties at a much younger age than her sisters.

This year she wanted to have her friends come over in their pajamas, drink hot chocolate, and eat donuts. Well, that's easy enough!

We held the party from 9:30-11am. Marin also wanted to do melting beads- her favorite- with her friends, so we set that up on the coffee table in the living room. (In hindsight, this would have been a better activity for an older group.)

To make things more "fancy" we set up a hot chocolate bar- the kids could pick from lots of different toppings for their hot chocolate. We had whipped cream, sprinkles, mini m&m's, and marshmallows. There wasn't much actual hot chocolate in those mugs, is what I'm saying. Luckily none of my friends seem too irritated at me getting their child(ren) all sugared up so early on a Saturday morning.

Marin's birthday was on a Saturday this year, so we decided to have her friend birthday party and her family birthday dinner the same day. I loved have one full day of celebrating her and then being DONE. It doesn't always work out that way, but it sure was that it did this year.

One other thing to note- we've always asked that her friends NOT bring a gift. She hasn't ever noticed/complained, and it makes things so simple and sweet. Her friends usually make her a card, or bring a small trinket from home, or bring her a bunch of flowers they picked, or something of the like, which she loves and cherishes. (She gets plenty of presents from us and our families that she's not lacking in gift-opening, either.)

For her birthday dinner, we invited her local grandparents (David's folks) over. Marin chose the menu of Swedish pancakes, strawberries, and bacon. She hates bacon, but we obliged her, because WE all wanted bacon. (Though David accidentally cooked the bacon that expired in Jan '10 that he'd been "saving" to return to the grocery- WHY did they have bacon that old on the shelf???- thus making our house smell like ROT. I could GAG typing that. Nothing says happy birthday like expired animal flesh!)

Ahem. Where was I? Oh yeah. Since we served donuts for her friends party, we saved the cupcakes for dinner.

She was so tickled that her grandma and grandpa came over, just for HER. She knows how to win hearts- for sure- and she has theirs all wadded up in her sticky little fists.

I'm writing all of this not because it's such fascinating blog fodder, but because I want to remember- and eventually my kids to remember- that we celebrate them. Everyday; and once a year we haul out the big guns too.

Though I say big guns, we try to keep their birthdays simple and special. I love choosing the perfect gifts for them, planning the perfect day. There was a time that I felt like I was coming up short in the Birthday Hullabaloo department, but now I feel like our own way of celebrating is just right.

Rotten bacon aside, of course.


Swistle said...

Seeing your dishes always makes me want Fiestaware afresh!

Lawyerish said...

I love this! What a fun birthday for her! Well done.

I want to do the "no gifts" request for Felicity when she's old enough to have friend-parties, but some of my mom friends have been sort of horrified at the idea (the general thought being that she'll go to so many other kids' parties and bring gifts to those, and will feel sad that she doesn't get presents like they do). I'm glad to hear it's worked for you!

Do you ask people on the invitation, or do you call ahead of time, or...what?

Marie Green said...

I wrote "no gifts please" on the invite. Some of our other friends do this too, so that helps. And Marin doesn't go to THAT many parties... she's never noticed. I guess her friends DO bring her little things, so she must be satisfied with that.

I do think that it's harder with school-aged kids. My older two have only had a few "kids" parties, and they've always received gifts. By that age (school-age), they DO notice, I think.

Mimi said...

I love the hot chocolate and donut party idea! I'm going to have to talk one of my kids into that one of these birthdays...

Jess said...

I do actually think this is fascinating blog fodder. What a wonderful birthday celebration!

Party of 5 said...

I love your blog. Our lives are similar in many ways.

Fabulous party idea, one I may steal for my daughter's 6th birthday in February.

Erin said...

Goodness. This looks simply PERFECT. And your Marin is FOUR?! NO! It cannot BE!

You've got really lovely birthday traditions. Can I steal them? Because I feel very short on the birthday hulabaloo.

Also: can I please come visit? I feel like I NEED to.

Maggie said...

We did no gifts for my son's birthdays 3-5 and he never noticed because everyone at his preschool did the same. He was so upset when we said no gifts for his birthday in K and he was the only kid who did that and didn't get any gifts. I felt like crap, so birthdays 6 and 7 have been gifts included and oh how I long to return to no gifts. Our house is full of cheap plastic noisy crap after every party. Sigh.

Marin had a lovely party - who doesn't like hot chocolate with toppings??

Anonymous said...

We're going to have to do "no gifts" in the future. B/c as the only grandchild on both sides, she gets way more than she needs to. Or maybe I'll request a charitable donation instead.

What a lovely birthday party! I only wish we were closer so we could have joined you in our pj's and celebrated both girls' birthdays.

d e v a n said...

That looks like a super fun party! Love the teacups!

clueless but hopeful mama said...

That's it! Erin and I are coming over!


I LOVE Marin's crown. And I too am impressed that she's so cool with no gifts. Gifts are all Zoe talks about. OY.