Today officially begins our family's busy season. Between today and the 1st of the year we will celebrate 3 birthdays and 3 major holidays. And we don't get to rest too long in January before our anniversary comes. Here's the breakdown:
November 15---Jessica's birthday
December 16----Emily's birthday
December 24/25---Christmas Eve and Day
December 29---Zachary's Birthday
December 31/January 1---New Year's Eve and Day
January 18---Wedding Anniversary.
Phew......WE ARE GOING TO BE BUSY : )
It would be easy to get caught up in the materialistic aspect of the season along with the stress. So how do we get through without going crazy?
First and foremost......downsize birthdays. Up until a few years ago we use to go all out, go crazy and broke. I am talking 2 parties per kid (one for adults and one for the kids) on the same day!!! I would invite kids over, along with their parents during the day. We would have games, food and cake. Clean up, and then family would come over....which meant another buffet of food (usually Chinese for family), another cake (btw, these are store bought cakes) and another mess! I was always stressed out leading up to the day. The day of, I was usually unbearable (I can admit it). It sucked all the fun and life out of the day. On top of that, my pocketbook would be about $400+ lighter between food, supplies, cakes, party favors and presents---and this is probably a conservative estimate. Afterwards, I was exhausted, broke and STILL stressed because I had another mess to clean.
A few years ago we smart'n up. Now only "milestone" birthdays have a party that is more than just our family. This would include--1st birthday and 10th, and 18th (I think, CJ isn't there yet). This is not to say that we don't make each birthday special, we just do it in a different way.
An example of a typical birthday in our house:
*Birthday child picks the menu for the day.
*No chores---great chance for siblings to bless the birthday child.
*No school--birthday's are family holidays.
*Present---This is when the child gets their "big" present for the year(instead of Christmas). We decided this would be the time to give the big gift (like an American Girl Doll or Nintendo DS) because it would be almost impossible to afford these kinds of gifts x 6 at once. Also, I think it would take away from Christmas. I would rather spend the extra money on a present than on a party.
*Child picks out what kind of cake they would like, either ice cream cake or a cake made by me.
*A special countdown song leading up to the big day.
*This year we added---each person at dinner says something about the birthday person that makes them special.
We have, on occasions, gone out to dinner as a family and something fun like bowling or mini-golf.
My children are just as happy with the way we do birthday now as we use. And myself? I LOVE it!!! My stress level is way down since I don't have to worry about getting the house ready for company. Instead, I get to enjoy the birthday child.
Today I brought Jessie to Starbucks to get a Frapacinno---just like Mommy, buy nail polish and a pack of gum. When we got home, I painted her nails as Daddy made tacos. After, she played with her new American Girl Doll we splurged on. It was a great day!!! Including her gift, the day cost around $120 ($95 on doll, $7 hairbrush for doll, breakfast and dinner under $10, cake less than $2, ice cream $2, birthday plates and napkins $3. That is a far cry from the $400.