Can you believe it’s it’s birthday time again. Your little one is growing up so fast. Seems like yesterday you were just cutting the cake and singing the song. But in such a shaky economy, how can you possibly compete with gymnastic bonanzas and fully catered events including professional entertainment? It’s time to put this in perspective, birthdays are a time for celebration, not a time for keeping score. And teaching your children about charity and giving back on their special day is an added plus.
Here are a few tips to help you structure meaningful and fun-filled birthday celebrations:
- Make sure your party is age-appropriate. The rule of thumb is to invite two children more than your child’s age.
- Forget the big party and invite one best friend. Go to a movie or rent a video and cook a special lunch or dessert together! Instant pudding, sugar cookies with sprinkles, or mini pizzas on English muffins are just a couple of fun examples.
- Plan an exercise party. Put a music or exercise video on and give each child a turn leading the exercises. Serve cut up vegetables and fruit with yogurt dip or ranch dressing. What fun and the giggles will have you in stitches!!
- Plan a “book party”. Instead of bringing a present, ask each child to bring a book they would like to pass on. Have circle time talking about the stories. Ask the children to make two pretty cardboard bookmarks decorating cardboard strips with yarn, buttons and markers. Put one in the book and take the other home. Then donate the books to a favorite charity. A great way to pay it forward.
- Plan a “pet party.” Ask each child to bring a picture of a favorite pet and a can of pet food. Place some newspaper on the floor or table with construction paper, yarn, buttons, markers, glue sticks, etc. and let each child to make a collage to take home. Serve goldfish crackers, string cheese, gummy worms and pudding cups with candles for a snack. Donate the dog food to a local shelter. For older children, meet at a local animal shelter for a tour then go to the park for fun and snacks. Fill a brown lunch bag with goldfish crackers, string cheese, a cookie and water for each child. (Moms must stay with their children for this celebration.)
- Have the children meet at an assisted living center and ask each child to bring one magazine each, for the residents. Spend a little time saying hello and then take the children back to your home for snacks and games. (Moms must stay with their children for this celebration)
- Bake two cupcakes for each child. Have them ice and decorate both and place a candle on one cupcake and blow them out together. Send the other home as a party favor. What fun!
- Plan a family birthday celebration. There’s no rule that says you have to invite the world. Family celebrations are sometimes the ones we remember the most! And don’t forget to have that camera charged and ready…Kodak moments last a lifetime!
Remember, the most important gift to give your child is your time. It’s better than all the toys in the world!
My Best Parenting Advice: It’s My Party by Blythe Lipman