No Extravagant Birthdays Needed


I feel like part of being a millennial mom is the expectation to do everything BIG. We start with gender reveal parties and baby showers, then continue with the “Sip and See,” Christmases, and, of course, birthday parties. There are whole Pinterest pages dedicated to coordinated party favors, decorations, rental furniture and locations, and catering ideas for baby’s first birthday. Now, I don’t know about you, but I do NOT remember my first birthday party. I couldn’t even tell you if I had a first birthday party.

So, no. No extravagant parties needed.

I grew up in a big, Catholic family. On my mom’s side, I am one of four kids, one of 18 grandkids, and my mom is one of nine kids. There are at least three cousins with birthdays within a few weeks of mine, as well as my grandfather. So, my birthday celebrations were always loud, large family gatherings with one cake, three birthday song renditions for each birthday boy or girl, and a lot of good food. These are the memories I treasure most for my birthday.

I’m sure that was in part because we did not have a lot of money growing up. My dad worked a government job and my mom went back to college, so our budget was pretty tight most of the time. The good food was mostly from my grandparents’ multi-acre garden. Cakes were homemade and home-decorated.

Sure, I got presents, but there are very few I can remember individually because it was more about the experience. And yes, I got to have friends over, but it was usually just two or three of my closest pals for a sleepover after the family festivities ended. There was no pomp and circumstance, no unnecessarily themed crazies, and no need for my parents to spend boo-coos of money we didn’t have. No extravagant parties needed.

Even as an adult, until my mom passed away, I loved going home to see family and have a good sit-down family dinner at my parents’ house for my birthday. It meant more than any themed party, coordinated decorations, or dollars spent on favors and gifts. Fostering that type of memory and meaning is what I hope to do for my children as well.

For Jack’s first birthday, we grilled out and had a cooler full of drinks. We ate on the patio, had a house full of aunts, uncles, and grandparents, and I *did* splurge on a few themed decorations from Amazon. We chose an egg theme, because that was his favorite food at the time. We had a banner, egg plates and napkins, and a homemade cake with white chocolate molded into egg shapes. I maybe spent $40 on decorations, not hundreds, and I feel like I did a pretty good job of recreating that close-knit family feel that I remember so well from my childhood birthdays.


This is what I plan to do for my boys going forward. There won’t be whole classroom parties that I stay up all night creating handmade favors and decorations for. We won’t be renting out Jump Zone or Gattitown (is that even still a thing??) for parties. There will always be good food, lots of people who love them unconditionally, and joy abound. We will be there to truly celebrate them coming into the world and another year around the sun.

Do you go all out for your kids’ birthday parties or keep it simple with cake and a few friends with a belief that: no extravagant parties needed?


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