So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

The standards for kids’ birthday parties seem to move further in the direction of More More More every year — in terms of size, in terms of cost, in terms of labor to pull off.

Any parent who has priced out a “simple” party at a community center or indoor trampoline park knows that the financial standard is strenuous for many budgets. A Babycenter poll found that a majority of respondents spent more than $500 on their baby’s first birthday party. The base-level birthday package at my local zoo is nearly $300. A single inflatable is $275, before food, cake and decorations – and I live in the cheap part of the country.

Social pressure for nicer, costlier gifts for the birthday child from both guests and parents, as well as directives from schools to invite everyone in the class (however well-intentioned such policies may be), only confuse the matter on both sides of the invite.

The drama, mamas!

Part of me believes we have made birthday parties into this thing because we want to prove how much we love our kids. Or, let’s be honest, it’s because Pinterest is now the language of women.

If over-the-top parties are your jam, by all means have at it. But I challenge all of us to consider subverting these new modern standards of birthday parties for one very important reason: the effort to raise our children to be humble, appreciative adults.

Celebrations are supposed to be just that – celebrations. Of life and the love shared within that limited, vapor-like life.

Love so massive it cannot be represented by a price tag or made more beautiful by handcut gingham strung on twine.

It’s a love for others that can only be expressed in the sweet, pure quality of time together. Without frills or dressed-up distractions.

Some may read this as me being a cheap skate, grumpy hostess or craft-impaired. So be it. I’m all of these things, actually, and my Pinterest boards prove it.

But my motivation is right. I have lost loved ones I’d give anything to spend another day with, and I guaran-darn-tee you I would NOT spend that day at a pizza-arcade combo.

This year, I am taking the challenge to plan my kids’ parties on the following principles.

  1.       Plan a party that emphasizes togetherness rather than entertainment. Games are great. Trampolines are fun. But if my daughter does not have a chance to actually talk to and bond with her guests, the love is muddled, and the value it could have is diminished. I want to ensure the party includes ample time for connection amid the fun.
  1.       Remember a day will come when their parties will have an open invitation, but it doesn’t have to be today. Throwing open the front door to every person who knows my child’s name for every party she has is not necessary. For certain milestone celebrations, this will be the case. But a small celebration now is also perfectly acceptable.
  1.       Go easy on the extras, heavy on the guest attention. A savvy hostess knows the details make for a good guest experience. But she also knows if her guests leave feeling like they’ve stood on the perimeter hoping for their turn at attention, then it’s all for naught. No amount of party favors or Instagram-ready photo booth pics can make up for someone feeling like they were there but not there.
  1.       Remind the birthday child the gift of presence means more than the gift of another toy. Some of the attendees are going to greater lengths than my child may realize to simply be at the party. This is a great teachable moment for her to learn how to be a gracious recipient of others’ time. I will teach her not to expect any gift other than someone’s presence. And if that person does indeed bring a material gift, then that’s a bonus.
  1.       Teach the birthday child the necessary skill of a thank-you note. When the guests leave, one key part of celebration yet remains. My children can (basically) write on their own — or at least tell me what they want to write — so without exception or condition, I will have them pen a personalized note to every attendee to express their gratitude, regardless of whether the guest brought a material gift. This is time well-spent. It is love reciprocated, invested.

Following these principles does not necessarily mean I won’t opt to host a kid’s party at the zoo (though probably not) or spend a few bones at the party store (already did).

What it does mean is my mind will be more focused on the things that actually matter for an event celebrating life over all else.

The things I cannot find included in a birthday package deal.

Sara Brunsvold

Sara Brunsvold is a Kansas City-based blogger and writer. Her heart's cry is to be a stronger, wiser woman who leans into the loveliness God every moment of every day. She is a family woman who struggles to be a good one, but who never loses faith God is with her every step. Visit Sara at her blog home, SaraBrunsvold.com, https://sarabrunsvold.com/and learn more about her journey in faith and womanhood.

Welcome to Periods in Your 30s and 40s

In: Health, Humor
Welcome to Periods in Your 30s and 40s www.herviewfromhome.com

Do you remember that day in the fifth grade when the boys and girls were separated for the “Sexuality and Development” talk? Some nice old lady health teacher came into your room and gave you some straight talk about how the next few years were going to go for you. It was awkward and shocking and you knew your childhood would never be the same. When you hit your mid-thirties, there should be some kind of Part Two to that conversation. All the ladies need to be rounded up, lead into a dimly lit classroom that smells vaguely of pencil...

Keep Reading

How to Stay Married For (at Least) 10 Years

In: Humor, Relationships
How to Stay Married For (at Least) 10 years www.herviewfromhome.com

In July, my husband and I celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary. We got married back in 2008 following my college graduation. I was only 22 at the time and him? Well, he was all good-looking at the prime age of 30. There were may vocal skeptics who chimed in, unasked of course, to share with us their belief that we would “never last” and that it would “never work”. To them, I say, “You were wrong! Na-na, na-na, boo-boo!” Just kidding, of course; I don’t talk like that. I am a respectable mother, not a four-year-old child and thank goodness...

Keep Reading

How to Put Your Children to Bed in 46 Easy Steps

In: Humor, Kids
How to Put Your Children to Bed in 46 Easy Steps www.herviewfromhome.com

It was time. It had to happen. We’d had a good run at pouring our children into bed at 11:30 p.m., sweaty, sticky, and exhausted from their head to their toes.  But bedtime had to get back to its (somewhat) regularly scheduled program.  When we had one kid, bedtime was a breeze.  Each night, we had a 10 step process. And the steps were simple. And very, very routine. 1. Toys away at 7:10 p.m. 2. Up the stairs at 7:15 p.m. 3. Change into pajamas 4. Brush teeth 5. Read two books 6. Say prayers 7. Light off 8....

Keep Reading

Welcome to the Dreaded Man Cold Season

In: Health, Humor
Welcome to the Dreaded Man Cold Season www.herviewfromhome.com

Your husband has a mere headache, but he automatically now believes that he is going to be a chronic sufferer of cluster migraines. Or, maybe he got a small splinter, but he now believes that he is, without probability, going to end up with a staph infection. And, well, that cough of his (cough, cough) is going to have him laid up in bed for the next two days because he is just feeling so terrible. Sound familiar? It is all too familiar to me. What am I talking about? How men are babies when they get sick. Yes, I said it. I...

Keep Reading

Wanted: Imperfect Friends

In: Humor, Relationships
Wanted: Imperfect Friends www.herviewfromhome.com

Is anyone else as sick of the facade as I am?  Because on social media, everyone seems to have their crap together. But I sure don’t.  Scrolling through my feeds leaves me feeling inadequate and lonely, desperately lonely.  I know social media is only the high points. I know there is always more going on behind the scenes that I don’t know about. But at the end of the day, I just feel like there’s no one who would want to be friends with little, imperfect, insignificant, me.  So, I’m placing an ad.  Wanted: Imperfect Friends A kind, but quirky,...

Keep Reading

51 Reasons a Mom Might Be Late

In: Humor, Motherhood
51 Reasons a Mom Might Be Late www.herviewfromhome.com

I’ve got a question for all you moms out there: Have you ever been late? Yeah, me neither. Just kidding! We’ve all been there. We have an appointment, a meeting, an event, or just a playdate, and we want to be on time. In fact, it often looks and feels like we’re going to be on time. We’ve planned ahead. We have everything in order, and we are ready to head out the door. But then, without fail, the inevitable happens. Actually, it seems that a good number of inevitables happen. And we’re running late, again. Being on time is...

Keep Reading

5 Ways Boy Moms Always Ruin Our Fun

In: Humor, Kids
5 Ways Boy Moms Always Ruin Our Fun www.herviewfromhome.com

We know Mom loves us, don’t worry about that . . . but sometimes it seems like she’s just making up a whole pile of rules to ruin our fun. For instance, we’ll be in the middle of a huge independent project and she’ll come along, usually shriek, and be like, “You can’t use water guns to fill up the bathtub! And why are you shooting water into the toilet? Ewwwwww.” And just like that, we have to pack it all up and return to a clean orderly activity. A controlled activity. A zero fun activity. We’re not even sure...

Keep Reading

Should Grandparents Get Paid to Babysit?

In: Humor, Journal
Should Grandparents Get Paid to Babysit? www.herviewfromhome.com

While swaying in side-by-side hammocks, my daughter paid me the ultimate compliment: “It gives me enormous peace of mind while I’m working, to know you’re watching my son and that he’s in the most capable hands.” Then 10 seconds later while I was still orbiting in happy mode, she insulted me by offering to PAY me for this glorious privilege. We engaged in a little tit for tat tug of war with no clear winner. And the debate rages on, at least in our household. How about yours? To pay or not to pay the loving grandparents who bless us...

Keep Reading

Kids Today Will Never Know the Joy of a 90s Summer

In: Humor

So you want a good old fashioned 90s summer, huh? I don’t blame you. The 90s rocked! (Literally, thanks to Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder.) I’m not going to lie—I take slight offense to the use of “old fashioned” and “90s” in the same sentence, as I’m pretty sure the 90s were like 10 years ago, but I’ll still help you out. If you’re really doing this though, you’ll need to ditch some of your modern conveniences, like your phone. I know, I know, but it’s a requirement. You may bring a beeper or clunky flip-phone, but no internet allowed...

Keep Reading

Dear Kids, This Is Not An Uber

In: Humor, Kids
Dear Kids, This Is Not An Uber www.herviewfromhome.com

Paid automotive transportation is pretty simple. You hop in the backseat of a cab, share the address where you are going and aren’t required to speak any longer until you arrive at your destination and pay the driver. The same primary rules apply to taking an Uber or Lyft.  The unwritten rules have been in place for some time. Your trade-off for taking paid transportation is a ride in the backseat, where you don’t have control over the music, the temperature of the car, the route the driver takes or how fast the trip takes, not even the amount of...

Keep Reading

 5 Secrets to Connect with Your Kids

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Proven techniques to build REAL connections