Share your child’s birthday with their schoolmates at a local farm, no gifts, and a few simple activities to create a fun experience for the kiddos without all the stress of a Pinterest-perfect, gift-loaded gathering.
Not long ago, J received an invitation to a birthday party for a little boy in his preschool class. With many of the kids in his class turning three this year, parents are just starting to throw birthday parties with friends from school.
I’ve shared before my mixed feelings about birthday parties for young children. If we get carried away, they can get so crazy and stressful and leave behind a mountain of gifts for a young child who doesn’t know the difference.
This birthday party, however, was quite different from the handful we’ve attended since moving to Pennsylvania. While the kids have enjoyed attending all the birthday parties, this party in particular was right up my alley.
No Presents Please, Just Your Presence
The invitation requested we not bring gifts, and as far as I could tell, attendees respected this request. (Thank goodness. It’s a total pet peeve of mine when people bring gifts after they’ve been specifically requested not to do so.)
While I love buying gifts for important people in my life when I have a good idea of something special they will love, I’m not a huge fan of buying something somewhat mindlessly for someone I don’t really know. It feels wasteful. Moreover, children acquire so many gifts at a birthday party to which an entire class is invited, and they just don’t need that many new toys.
A Breath of Fresh Air
The child’s parents hosted the party at local farm. The children adored seeing and feeding the animals, including a handful of baby goats that were just a few days old.
Despite the weather being a bit chilly, it was great to be outside.
Some animal advocates might have hesitations about so many children petting and feeding the animals, but I think the experience helps children like mine (who don’t spend much time with animals) learn to appreciate and connect with animals more. If we want to ensure the next generation cares for the earth and all its inhabitants, getting an up close look at other animals seems like a valuable experience to support positive engagement.
Pizza, Cupcakes and a Pinata
After feeding the animals and hearing a little about them from the farmer, we all mingled for an hour or so while enjoying a really simple but perfectly complete spread of pizza, cupcakes and drinks. After we ate, each child had a turn to whack the heck out of a pinata and enjoy a few pieces of candy from its belly.
Throughout the party, I had a chance to spend time chatting with other parents and let J play on his own a bit (he couldn’t wander far or find much trouble in the area). The whole experience proved relaxing and required little preparation (at least for us). Certainly the parents of the birthday child had a bit of advance planning, but I appreciated that we could just show up, hang out, and be grateful for a fun weekend afternoon.
Birthday Parties for Our Children
J turned three a few weeks ago and we passed on a birthday party with his friends for this year. I’ve adhered to a motto that ‘they can have birthday parties with friends when they are old enough to ask for them’.
We celebrated with family and had these brown and yellow (his favorite colors) mini cupcakes that he specifically requested. J has started to ask about his birthday party, so we’ll certainly have one for him next year, but he didn’t miss a beat without one this year.
T, on the other hand, is turning 5 soon and hasn’t stopped talking about his party. We let him chose 6 friends and he can’t wait for them to come over to our house and play sports for two hours.
We’ve already discussed that his friends won’t be bringing gifts and he didn’t bat an eye about it. He was far too concerned about the flavor of cupcakes he wanted and how the teams will be split up for soccer.
I’m just happy to let him focus on what matters most to him about the party and not create more stress for myself over aspects that aren’t a priority to the guest of honor.