Birthdays and holidays are truly a time I cherish with the kids. It’s a golden age filled with excitement and infectious joy and wonderment. I wouldn’t want to to try (at least not at this point) a no gift Christmas. But I am looking forward (somewhat anxiously) to hosting no gift birthdays. For my youngest first birthday we requested from friends and family handwritten letters describing their love of her, her personality, their dreams and hopes for her, etc. We placed these in a time capsule for her to open again on her 18th birthday. Sadly, we didn’t receive as big of response as we had hoped. Apparently people are far more willing to drop money on toys rather than write a heartfelt letter. Perhaps it has something to do with the “old fashioned-ness” of hand written letters, and the fast paced consumerism where everyone is dashing for the latest toy trends.
Fast forward 2 years and I am going to give the no gift birthday a try again. I want to strive for TIME and EXPERIENCES that will create forever lasting memories….rather than spending tons of money on half eaten food and toys that will ultimately be played with for an hour and be left forgotten on the floor. Spending time with family is amazing and its fantastic to be surrounded by family and friends of your child who are there to celebrate their birth with you but I’m curious about trying it without all the filler. Without all the white noise that truly isn’t important.
Honestly, I don’t remember what I got for most of my birthdays (apart from a few exceptions of gifts hat were extremely heartfelt and cherished). I remember admiring a gold ring my mother wore every day. The ring had three hearts and my mother would say the three hearts represented her, my sister, and I. I adored the ring and the significance behind it. One year on my 10th birthday I opened the tiny box that revealed the very same ring I adored on my mother hand for years. I still have it and generally keep it locked safe in my jewelry box for fear of losing it. I also remember one year I received the most obnoxious and ridiculously designed Nickelodeon alarm clock. And I LOVED IT. I also still have it and amazingly it does still work!
I will tell you though, I don’t remember what toys I got every year or what flavor cake I had. Many of the things I do remember are making a home-made cake with my mom and sister, decorating bedroom doors the night before so that the person waking up on their birthday morning could hardly get out of their room, or camping on the river bank and waking up to nature and my family singing Happy Birthday echoing through the woods and a campfire-made cake.
Those things bring back such a strong feeling of emotion that it brings tears to my eyes.
It’s no surprise I find myself feeling guilty when comparing my children’s birthday parties to their friends’ who are bigger, flashier and cost more money. But then I remember how at every party, the kids run past the intricately decorated table with food cut out in the shape of Disney characters and unicorns and hightail it straight to their friends.
Kids don’t care about the details like fancy striped straws, food labels or the glitter that was stuffed into their invitations (please parents, don’t do this!)
Kids don’t care about other people’s perceptions of their birthday party and the sooner I let go of this the sooner my focus switched to the important thing – making my child feel special on their birthday. The bottom line? Kids get excited when their friends arrive and playtime starts.
So this year I want to instill this same tradition of
meaningful and long-lasting love packed memories wrapped
in bows of kisses and hugs and showers of attention, rather than
discarded wrappers and forgotten toys.
I want to do something special. Something that bonds the family. The planning has begun but on a much more simplistic level. One that COMPLETELY frees me of the stress of financially affording toys, food, bouncy houses, and birthday loot bags. I wont need to worry about flashy invitations or getting these out to 50+ people. I’ll be free to create birthday traditions full of love and joyful surprises. Not bagging up loads of garbage and cleaning for hours after everyone has left. Memorable experiences and time spent with those closest to us. That is what lasts. That is what makes the best gift.
Have you ever hosted a gift free party? How did it go? At the end of the day was it much more enjoyable for you and the guest of honor?
Visit my blog post for things to keep in mind while planning a minimalist party! https://fairmindedmommy.com/2018/11/08/minimalist-birthday-party-things-to-keep-in-mind-while-planning-one/
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