In our house, birthdays are a big deal. It was the day God said, “Welcome to the world!” and we believe it’s a day worth celebrating. While I’ll readily agree that the definition of “big deal” varies widely, it doesn’t have to mean a loan from the bank and inviting your 50 closest friends. I learned that last part the hard way.
For our first child’s first birthday, we invited 50 people to the house. I made the cakes, my husband grilled the BBQ and at the end of the party, we looked at one another and said, “Never again!” What can I say, we were birthday parent rookies. Fast forward twelve years and I now have 37 parties under my belt. I’m fairly certain we’ve done it all, or if not, I’m close.
We’ve planned simple celebrations, mildly chaotic and super crazy fun, and you know what I prefer? Whatever makes my kids feel special. For 364 days a year, children experience life, but one day a year they get to be the superstar. Plus, you get to eat cake. Always a bonus.
In the birthday mothersphere, there is some debate about having a party every year. Here’s what I suggest: make your child feel loved, celebrated and cherished in whatever way works for your family. You don’t have to be the queen of desserts, Amy Atlas, to make a birthday fun and beautiful.
Think back to the moment you learned you were pregnant. I’m betting there were some happy tears as you spied that pregnancy test. Remember the anticipation of the birth? The first time you laid eyes upon your child? Tap into that love, keep it the primary focus, and your celebration can never go wrong.
It was that love that carried me through a birthday celebration I dreaded. Our youngest son was born premature and when his first birthday rolled around I found myself incredibly anxious and reliving so much of the fear that surrounded his birth. After that day, I realized that every child, and every birthday, comes with its own rules. I think that’s why I take birthdays so seriously. We almost didn’t get to celebrate one.
We all have our gifts and mine happens to be planning. Birthdays have always been my thing. Even if the thought of hosting a group of people makes you break out in a cold sweat, it doesn’t mean your children are destined for a lackluster celebration. In the age of Pinterest, birthdays have become more about the event, rather than the person. I’ve seen four-tier cakes, pony rides, face painting and more than four dozen guests feasting on a decadent dessert table. For a one-year-old.
Make it about the person. Celebrate your child’s gifts, his abilities, his passions and add a heavy dose of love into his day. I guarantee you, long after the cake is eaten and the new toys unwrapped, your child will always remember how you make him feel. Celebrate with love and for goodness sake, eat some cake!
Kathryn Whitaker is the mom of five and a self-proclaimed party lover. She’s transformed her house into Hogwarts, invaded a bowling alley, recreated Paris and orchestrated a mother-daughter brunch with friends. Through it all, she’s focused on love and believes every birthday is worth celebrating. You can find some party inspiration on her blog or follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.