How Do You Handle Birthday Celebrations?

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Do you host a birthday party for each child, each year? Maybe a fun themed celebration with lots of balloons, cake, coordinated invitations and plenty of refreshments? I love parties like that, but it might surprise you to know that I don’€™t feel the need to host them each year.
In fact, pretty early on in my parenting career I decided that we would host family-only parties for the kids during their toddler and preschool years, and then invite our extended family over for dinner, cake and coffee.

Between the years of 5 and 9 there was more of a friend-based focus for the parties, with a weekend family dinner for grandparents, aunts/uncles and cousins. When both of my kids turned 10 we bypassed the friend and family party and took a mother-son trip to a location of their choice (within reason) and spent three nights and four days together on a mini vacation. Both of my boys would declare this to be their best birthday ever, so it was worth skipping the parties that year.

From age 11 onwards they had a choice between a large gift (everything they want at this age is usually expensive) or a party with friends, with the usual extended family celebration close to their actual birthday. My eldest son prefers the gift option, while my youngest boy chose a party this year.

I’€™ve done parties at home (my very favourite kind) and parties in rented locations like a movie theatre, bowling alley or community centre gym. We’€™ve invited a lot of kids from school, but also just a small handful of close friends from all sorts of different areas (neighbourhood, hockey, etc.). Each year has been different and neither of my kids have ever had the same type of celebration.

And now I’€™m curious: How do you handle birthdays? Do you like throwing a yearly party? Do you prefer to keep things simple? Have you ever considered a birthday trip like I do? Do any of your children prefer not to have a party at all?

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