Five Ways To Simplify Birthdays

My little Punkin turned one last month and I have a confession: I almost had a nervous breakdown over the entire party thing. There I was: standing in Party City trying to determine whether I should go with the Elmo or the Toy Story theme. Then again, we have a lot of stuffed ‘jungle’ animals so maybe a safari or jungle theme with a lot of monkeys would be better. Seriously. I almost cried in Party City. I was so stressed out and upset over having to choose that I left without purchasing anything that day for fear I’d go with the wrong theme and my little guy’s party would suck.

Thankfully I was scheduled to have lunch with a friend and she reminded me of a few major points to get me back in the groove. She said:

  • He doesn’t know who Elmo, Woody, Buzz Lightyear and any other Disney/Pixtar character is so why does it matter? A monkey, a tiger and a lion are the same to him at this point of his life.
  • You are a 40+ mom, so there won’t be any kids there…only old people who want to see the kid with cake all over his face.
  • You say you are a minimalist. (“Well, sorta”, I admitted). Why are you buying into the lie that this has to be a smaller version of the traveling circus to be a successful party? Keep it simple. Keep it about the kid, not the party.

And she was absolutely right. I realized I was trying to impress the adults at the party with my super-mom skills and those people don’t need me to impress them. They already know I do my best as his mom. No fancy cake needed to prove that. So, as always, I asked myself “How did I get here? I thrive on simplicity. What happened between my house and Party City that day?”

Turns out, this was easy to answer. Pinterest happened. A nightly search of “1 year old birthday ideas” on Pinterest. Not. A. Good. Idea. Don’t misunderstand, I love Pinterest. It is my favorite time-suck activity, but, admittedly Pinterest really does feed my desire to buy things I don’t need and compare myself to those who have (want???) more than I. In truth, when giving things up in my “Year Without”, Pinterest should be top of the list.

My friend, and fellow blogger, Kelly wrote a great blog about how to keep birthdays simple. I’m ‘stealing’ a few of her points, but also adding my own. Hence the title of this week’s post. Here are my five tips for making birthday’s simple.

1. Stay out of the Party Stores. Seriously, a lot can be accomplished with a few white dishes or even white paper plates. I made some decorations from construction paper and a 99 cent bag of blow-up balloons. I think I spent a total of $8 at the Dollar Store. This post has some great ways to decorate from recycled (aka: already on hand) things. It’s a Cheerio-themed party. No home with a one year old is without Cheerios, right? (Kelly’s first point in her blog says “Stay off Pinterest”. Ha. Silly, silly Kelly.)

2. Keep the cake simple. Kelly suggests picking up a cake from the grocery store bakery or baking some cupcakes at home. I totally agree. I did make my Punkin’s cake(s) this year but that’s because I have a neighbor who owned a bakery so she loaned me her cake decorating stuff. My mom used to be a cake decorator so I have a slight level of skill in the decorating field. And finally, I just wanted to for the sake of doing something fun and creative. I made two, actually. One for him and one for the guests. Admittedly, my pal Betty Crocker made it a bit easier. So, case in point: Cake from a box is okay.

3. Only invite people who really matter. Our small little house was brimming with people. Important people. People we love. Only three of our guests were under the age of 9 because most of my friends are drawing social security or (and??) have kids in college.

Don’t celebrate with a ‘party’ every year. I made this a big deal because it was his first birthday and he shares the day with his 71-year old Grandpa who was also at the party. I wanted it to be memorable for several reasons. Next year, I’m thinking Hy-Vee cupcakes, pizza and Phelps Grove Park. End of story.

5. Skip the party favors. Ugh. I hate spending money on silly stuff that people will just throw away. If you must do party favors, follow this rule: If you can’t eat it or wear it, you don’t need it. I’m of the ‘eat it’ mindset so I sent people home with extra cake. As Kelly stated, “Nobody needs a bag full of trinkets and candy sent home with their kid and you can save yourself a little bit of time, money, and stress. The fun time with friends is reward enough for attending.”

20130908_15213220130908_152207Smash Cake!

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