Day 12: The Party Hat – How to celebrate simply

Ruthie The Party Hat 20 Comments

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untitled (190)You celebrate your child’s birthday every year.

By default, you are the party planner.

And not just for your kid’s parties, but for your husband, your brother, your mom and dad, and sometimes, your neighbor.


Maybe you love parties and get all into party hats and blow horns.

If that’s the case, you can come organize all mine next year while I go read a book by a calm ocean setting somewhere far, far way.



Do we have to celebrate EVERY year?

All four of my babies were born in the spring.

I’m living proof that there is a fertile time of year.

In March, we have two birthdays 6 days apart.  (My husband also has a birthday that month.)

In May, we have two birthdays one day apart. (Grandma’s birthday is on one of them.)

(Mother’s Day lands on one of the two days on certain years as well).

(My anniversary is the same week).

By the time June rolls around, I’m ready for a vacation.

Can I get an amen?


When birthdays run close together

Give them each their own celebration

I know.  The logical thing would be to get one cake, split it down the middle with a name on each side, invite the masses, and get it over with.

Your kids will resent that. 

I never wanted my children to resent each other and I wanted each child to feel special, loved, and celebrated.

Save the combos for when they leave home and you can hardly get the whole group together for a quick weekend.

They’re more forgiving then.


Go simple or go home

Girl, the dollar store is where it’s at.  Get the decorations, treat bags, plastic toys, and the candy, and get out.  (Oriental Trading is also a great resource – you get a lot for not a lot.)

No use spending scads of money on stuff that the kids are going to lose on the way home anyway.

Get the cakes from Sam’s or Costco, or pay a friend to bake them.

Take as much pressure off yourself as possible.

Ask relatives to help with food.  They’ll be happy to oblige and it makes your load a whole lot lighter.

Play a couple of games, and then let the kids run loose in the yard.  You don’t have to be the entertainer of the year.

You’re not Lady Gaga.

(Are you?  If so, leave a howdy in the comment section.)


Consider a sleepover

Notice I said “consider”.  Sleepovers are not for the faint of heart.

But if you’re having two parties, one of them could be a sleepover because everyone has to sleep, right?

Oh, YOU’RE not going to.

You will get zero sleep.

But a sleepover can consist of just one friend, and that’s ok too.  (It’s also calmer.)


Birthday party ideas

Head on over to Billy Bob’s


Last year I found this little kit at Walmart with the backdrop and little crowns and such. The kids had a blast with it (and they’re ages 19-26).

You may not have a Billy Bob’s in your town, but you probably have something like it.

It’s a party place where the kids eat pizza, run around like maniacs, play games, and everyone goes home after two hours.

This was by far my favorite type of celebration.

It’s a little costly, but it may be worth it for your sanity.


Go to a park

It always takes the pressure off if you don’t have to entertain in your home.

Get those kids near some swing sets and let them eat cake under the picnic shelter.

That way, you leave the crumbs outside and everyone comes home tired and happy.


Overnight camping trip

This is for the outdoorsy type mom, I realize that.

Or the mom whose husband might like to take on this adventure.

Little boys love this one (big boys do too)!


Be considerate of family

Sometimes it’s hard to get all the celebrating in with extended family and friends.

You don’t have to have two parties.

But if it’s tradition to celebrate with family, here are a couple of suggestions:

-Celebrate with family early.  On the actual birthday, invite a friend over to do something special.

-Have a special party when your child reaches a monumental age.

You can do this with the whole crowd of family and friends, or that can be the year you do two separate celebrations.

We always had a special surprise party for our kids when they each turned 16.

You could throw a special celebration when they’re 5, 10, 13, 16, and 18.

Try to sit down and figure it out now so that you have your plan of action when the questions start spitting your way:  “Mom, so and so had their birthday party at such and such, can I have mine there too?!?”

Which brings me to my next point:


Don’t play the comparison game

untitled (174)You don’t need to keep up with the Jones’s.

Just because they have their birthday party at Bob’s Blow-up Play Place doesn’t mean you have to.

Be willing to think outside the box –  simplify and celebrate in a unique way!


Our list of celebrations

Here are a few things we did down through the years, spread out among four children’s birthdays.

Hawaiian themed party (at a large facility, complete with toy blow up animal floaties)

Unicorn party on a pontoon boat ( with non-waterproof unicorn piniata and unicorn cake at the park shelter)

Pizza party at Billy Bob’s

Party in our field (simple tables and kiddie chairs, cake, balloons and a few games)

Campfire party in our field (s’mores, songs, find-the-people, and fireworks)

Dozens of sleepovers (ugh)

Park parties (these are the best)

Parties combined with cousins (trading off host homes)

Parties at home with pin-the-tail and bingo (picture lots of kids running up and down the steps inside the house)

Nightmare Before Christmas surprise party  (Again, large facility – Christmas tree, Easter eggs, pumpkins, soundtrack to the movie)

Camping party (boy sleepover)


Don’t forget grandma and grandpa


No, my parents aren’t 758 years old, but they do share the same birthday! (We could only fit one “7” on the cake!)


Perhaps the people who pay the most attention to birthdays are grandparents.

That alone is enough reason to return the favor, but besides that, they deserve to be celebrated!

 Prepare a special meal and invite them over




A simple thing like sharing conversation around a home cooked meal goes a long way with grandma and grandpa. Click To Tweet

Slow down, sit a spell, and talk a while.


Bake a cake from scratch

It shows them you care enough to spend time on them.

But hey, if they like ice cream cakes, go for it!


Give home-made cards

This was a tradition in my family growing up and it’s still my parent’s favorite thing to receive.

Grab a folder, some old pictures, and a marker and make up a silly rhyme.  They’ll love it!



You’re not a loser if you keep it simple

untitled (191)

My grandson, Sawyer on his first birthday last year.

I know it’s the age of all things Pinterest.  The themed party with the gorgeous table scape and the party favors and the fondant.  Those are fun, and by all means – rock that party hat!  But moderation should be a key word in your vocabulary, mama.  You don’t have to kill yourself.

You just need to show them you care.






Click here for Day 13: The Ringmaster Hat!


11904646_1007463585951778_3600476864197712618_nHello there, mama!

While I have you here, I want to remind you of a fantastic series running right now through the month of October called “30 Days of Raising Boys” hosted by Kaylene Yoder of Kaylene  Today, I am the featured writer and my subject is called, “Four Tips to keeping your son accountable”.  If you’re raising a son and you’re nearing the tween and teen years, you’ll want to take the time to give it some thought. (You can also access the link by clicking on the picture to the left.) Thanks for reading and be sure to come back for tomorrow’s hat – the Graduation Cap!



Comments 20

  1. confession time. We haven’t had a birthday party in YEARS. We used to, but it became too much work when we had 4 littles. We do have a special birthday meal, their choice of dinner and desert. When each turns 13, we honor them with a coming of age party.

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      Perfect! It is so much work and I’m glad you gave yourself the freedom to do that. Everyone celebrates differently and I love your ideas! (Do they have a special plate too?;)

  2. I am loving these! Vacation and life have kept me from getting over here to tell you each time, but this is so fun. Loved the wrangling lessons – so. on. par.

    And these tips? THank you! I started out throwing princess parties complete with cardboard castles. And that was BEFORE Pinterest! Simplifying and putting first things first – with interspersed major moments – has made life so much more doable.

    I hope there are young moms out there taking copious notes from you!

    Signed – The farthest from Lady Gaga you could possibly find

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      Not Lady Gaga? Oh come now. I’m sure a woman who runs a podcast and goes to the flood lands for vacation could set up a mike and entertain for a couple hours! 😉 Thanks for stopping by, Tex, I’ve been missing you, but you and I are both drinking from the same fire hydrant, so we giveth much grace!!!
      (Oh and I prayed for you this morning. It is Monday, you know.)

  3. I was the sleep-over mom, all the friends came over to our house. It was a really loud and sleepless time in my life. I miss it. Now I’m a Nana to twins and my cup runneth over. Thank you for sharing from your heart. It blessed mine today.

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      Hahahah “loud and sleepless time in my life” – good one! I’m glad you have fond memories of that time, as we become nanas (I’m called Gigi), we enjoy those littles too, but there’s no substitute for those golden days when the kids were all home. Thanks for your blessing here today! 🙂

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  4. Oh I love this… so full of great ideas! I am now an empty nester – but I raised my girlie pre-Pinterest days and I LOVED to plan me (uh…her! of course, I mean HER!) a party! 😉 As she got older of course, the themes went out the window and sooner than I was ready for it -the ‘party’ all together was pushed aside… (oh – she still wanted the gifts… she just was over all the over the top parties with friends… and I learned to love the quieter celebrations as well!)

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      Well hey there, friend! Thanks for the kudos, I remembered that you were empty nesting. I read your post about your girlie calling you up and you dropping everything to visit now that she’s out of the house. I do that too. And you did well, following her lead and letting her choose how to party! Way to go, mama! 🙂

  5. So many great ideas here. I implemented many of these same thing. Parties can be overwhelming for sure. I have two daughters who’s birthdays are three days apart. We had a lot of party planning to do when they were younger.

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      Then you know exactly what I’m talking about. It seems like a lot of families have overlapping birthdays so I figured those tips would be relevant. I enjoy hearing of your experiences each day in your comments, it gives me an inside view into “the life of Michelle”! 🙂

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  6. Chuck E. Cheese during elementary years and pool parties during the middle-school years, with the occasional bowling alley party, were my salvation! Yes, more costly, but how can you put a price on a mom’s sanity? I’m very grateful that those days were done before the advent of Pinterest. I think there’s more pressure now.

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      YES! All of the above are awesome ideas. I too am glad I didn’t have the intimidation of Pinterest around during those years (nor a smart phone and all the social media)! Thanks for stopping by, Shelby!

  7. Great post! I love the simple life and especially on birthdays. I have one daughter, but we’ve had nearly all of our parties at home…eighties style for these kiddos (and their parents) is a treat. We’re almost to the half-way mark, fellow 31 dayer! Keep up the great work!

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      Hi Julie! I’ve enjoyed your 31 day posts! Thanks for the kind comment, I’ll bet you rock those ’80’s parties, that sounds like a party I’d like to join!!
      Hang in there, half way – we can make it!!!

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