Family Birthday Parties without Clutter
A guest post by Cindy Bogard
On Day 209, Colleen wrote about having a clutter-free birthday for her 19 year old son. For those of you with younger kids who thought, “Sure, that worked for her; he’s 19 after all,” this post is for you. My daughters are 8 and 10 (just beginning 3rd and 5th grades), and I’m here to tell you it is possible to reduce their birthday haul without reducing their birthday happiness.
First of all, if you’re going to make any drastic changes to the way things have been, you need to prep your kids in advance. With my girls, the preliminary conversation was easy and began naturally. My eldest daughter’s birthday is right before Christmas, and we had celebrated her birthday at her Grandmother’s house. At the end of the evening, we packed up her gifts into a box and brought them home. Over Spring Break (March), I realized that the box was still sitting in my daughter’s room, largely untouched. That began the conversation about how much we enjoy receiving gifts – much more, usually, than we actually enjoy the gifts themselves.
What Colleen did for her son, and what every birthday person enjoys, is feeling like the king or queen of the day. I have few memories of any particular gifts I’ve received, but I have great memories of parties and special dinners that were thrown in my honor. You child is no different.
This year when my daughter turned 8, I had been decluttering for 2 months, and clutter had become part of the flow of family conversation, which included my husband, my children, and my mother. I did have to send an email about it to my in-laws, and they were much more receptive than I would have guessed. (I’ve been trying to trim down gift giving for as long as I’ve been a part of their family, so they can’t have been too surprised.)
My daughter received a necklace holder made for her by her Dad, several pieces of jewelry, a lucky bamboo plant in a special container, and a rosebush for her garden – that’s it for gifts from her parents, sister, Godfather, and two sets of grandparents. (As an aside, I have to brag that my husband made the necklace holder only out of items he found in the garage – a decluttering project in and of itself – and when she hung her necklaces on them, my daughter decided that she was through with two of them and that they could go to the thrift store.)
Where’s the part where she was the Queen of the Day? Her birthday was on Sunday this year, and she ruled from Friday night through Sunday evening. On Friday, we had a family birthday dinner where she selected the menu and opened gifts from other family members. On Sunday, she received a blessing at church, and I took her picture with the rector afterwards. She opened one gift before church and one gift after church. We watch a DVD and have pizza every Sunday, but as a birthday treat we went out to dinner and saw a movie at a theater instead. In between, every time we said prayers from Friday through Sunday, we said an extra thank you for her.
These things, I believe, are the memories that she will retain, long after any games or trinkets she might have received would have broken or been passed along to younger children.
ITEM 252 OF 365 LESS THINGS
Another craft ebay sale once again not a very lucrative one only $5.00 again.