Have you had this experience? You go to a young child’s birthday party and the parents have gone ALL OUT. It’s got a theme and EVERYTHING is on theme – from the cake to the toilet paper in the bathroom. There’s even entertainment (which isn’t just a harried dad desperately trying to blow up balloons with the helium tank he rented).
There is also a wall of presents, all wrapped with festive paper and ribbon and bows. And party games, which the birthday child’s parents are frantically trying to corral the children into playing.
At the end of the 3-hour party (which felt like 12 hours), the parents are exhausted from throwing this extravaganza and trying to make it everything they think it should be.
And did the birthday child feel more special and loved in the midst of all this?
The birthday child might have been just as happy playing with the box one of their gifts came in minus the 20 sugar-hyped kids and gazillions of balloons.
However you want to celebrate your child’s birthday is totally up to you. But sometimes as parents we get the idea that a birthday celebration means “Instagram perfect.” It means go big or go home. And that simple and easy or a kid’s birthday party on a budget are not even options.
Yes, celebrating birthdays is important for kids – some research says that for preschool kids they may not even believe they are another year older unless there’s a birthday celebration of some kind. But there are lots of ways to celebrate this important life passage that won’t leave either you or your child feeling overwhelmed, stressed out and exhausted.
Here are a few of our favorites:
1. Breakfast in Bed.
Instead of a big party, serve your child breakfast in bed – complete with balloons, confetti, even cake, if you like. Nothing like cake for breakfast to make a child realize this day is not like any other.
2. ALL ABOUT ME Day.
Let your child know that their birthday can be all about them (within reason of course). So, for example, you can tell them they get to pick out what the whole family has for dinner (and yes gummy bears will be considered a vegetable on this day). And they can choose a game or two for everyone to play together. Or a movie everyone watches together. Or they could make it “wacky hair color day” … for everyone in the family (luckily at KidSnips we have some very family-friendly TEMPORARY hair color options.)If they have a special friend or two, they can invite them over for dinner or a sleepover. Jumping on the bed WILL be allowed. And instead of their usual bedtime, they can stay up late. Or at least later…
3. The Video Time Capsule.
On your child’s birthday, interview them on video and ask them about their life that year, ask things like: What was your favorite toy this year? Who was your best friend and why? What was the most fun thing you got to do this year? What was your favorite place to go? What do you think you’d like to be when you grow up? Being asked questions and really listened to means a lot to kids…and then next year you can also sit down and enjoy watching together the video of what your child said the year before. If this becomes a yearly tradition, by the time your child is 18 you and they will have quite a record of their lives.
4. The Another Year Cooler Experience.
What better day than your birthday to dive headfirst into a new look? You could get an appointment all set ahead of time, then take your child to get a fresh birthday cut from KidSnips (for inspiration check out some of the hot trends in kid’s hair for 2022). They might even want to add some hair graphics or a shot of color (or two). Gift them a cool pair of shades perhaps and suddenly they’re not just another year older, they’re another year cooler. Oh yeah.
5. The Birthday Gift Wishlist.
When kids get gifts on their birthday it can make them feel really special and help them feel seen and known and loved. Or it can just feel like getting bombarded by whatever was on display at the nearest toy store or Target. Having a gift wishlist is a great way to make sure your child gets a gift that also delivers a “I’m special,” “I matter,” “You see who I am,” message, versus getting some random something or other that will be forgotten before the birthday is over.
Kids’ birthday wishes actually matter more than you may realize. The whole concept of wishes is important developmentally for children – understanding what a wish is and that we don’t always get what we wish for, but sometimes we do – that’s a lesson children need to learn. It helps them think about what they really want, what’s most important to them. It also teaches them about hope and it sends the message that it’s good to hope for things – even if you don’t get everything you hope for, hope is good. That’s important to know and remember at any age!
At KidSnips, we’re all about making kids feel special, important and like they really matter. That’s why we have started having a birthday wishlist board at every one of our salons. You and your kids can simply tell us what they’re wishing for and we’ll write it down on the board.
Your child will get to see their name on our wall (along with their list of wishes…) which will make them feel kind of awesome in and of itself. Plus, you and other people in your child’s life, your child’s family and friends, will be able to see…clearly… what your child would actually like for their birthday and will definitely appreciate not having to guess at the perfect gift…always a plus.
Whatever you choose to do for your kids’ birthdays, whether you do something big involving a giant inflatable bouncy house or do something smaller and more intimate, no inflatables involved, aiming for fun, easy and meaningful for you and your little ones seems like the key to a successful and happy birthday celebration.
Have any easy and fun ways you’ve started celebrating birthdays with your kids? We’d love to hear about them.