These days, birthdays and holidays are all about “what you got” and spending an obscene amount of money to make sure the birthday person feels loved. Somehow, we’ve evolved into a society that associates money with love: the more you spend, the more you must love them. I wholeheartedly disagree. Instead, we’ve opted for spending less money and focusing more on the quality of our things and our time together.
With that in mind, I want to share some of our favorite fun traditions to ensure that the birthday person feels extra important on their special day, without breaking the bank or going overboard on anything.
Last year, Connor turned 3 and Kylar celebrated his first birthday. I decided it was probably time to commit to some traditions that are fun, easy, and not going to cost a great deal, while still ensuring that each kid feels like the day is primarily about him. After discussing it some with my husband, we came up with 4 fun ways to let the birthday kid feel like this truly is their day, without falling into the consumerism trap of spending more to show love.
Connor's Third Birthday
We played with his birthday present (cool new trike, with a pirate helmet from my parents) all morning, until Dad left for work, then we relaxed and Connor got to pick what we watched on TV. Since Monday was also the eclipse, we didn’t stay inside for too long. We had a snack and were quickly back outside, playing with the water hose, watching the eclipse through our fancy box, and riding his trike around on the driveway. When he wanted to switch and play something else, we did. When he wanted to play with the water hose and put out “fires” in the yard (pretend, imaginary fires) he did. When he wanted to try and make a water slide with the hose and his fort, I didn’t stop him, but the hose didn’t reach. Instead, he turned his car-coaster into a water-car-coaster. He doesn’t usually get to make all the decisions for how or where we play, simply because I don’t like getting that wet, it’s hot outside, or he wants to get messier than I do, but it was his birthday so I didn’t slow him down. Letting him call all the play shots was possibly the best gift we could have given him. He loved it and told me so, loudly and often.
We also spent a good portion of the day hanging out with my mom, having lunch, watching the eclipse, then dinner with my parents and sister. It was a great day and we managed to do it all for under $50. It might sound cheap, and it definitely was, but it was also one of the best days of his little life. He was so happy all day, and he didn’t know or care that we didn’t spend a ton of money. He spent the day feeling like the most important person in the world. That’s what a birthday should be about.
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Writer and Contributor for the Motherhood Community