WORDS BY ERICA NEWTON, MYFIRSTGYM CO-FOUNDER
What’s Worse: Labour Pains or Children Birthday Parties?
Throwing a birthday party at home for your child is a lot like giving birth. There’s lots of lead up time and preparation, the event is eye-wateringly painful and completely exhausting with a rush of complete joy once it’s over. Not to mention the more times you do it, the more blasé you get about the whole affair. Oh, and the screaming like an irritated banshee.
Obviously, I’m joking: giving birth is way easier than throwing your three kids’ birthday parties at home in the space of four months.
Celebrating our children’s birthdays is important.
The celebration of a child’s birthday is not an optional extra for parents, and it is the gifts that aren’t wrapped in bright paper that are the most important. Celebrating a birthday helps develop our children’s self-esteem and identity. It creates positive traditions, teaches the joy of giving and receiving, the passage of time and best of all, is where happy, joyful childhood memories are made. But does this have to be a costly, fluorescent-icing coated headache for parents? *Asking for a friend*
I’ve learnt the hard way that throwing a birthday party for each of my children every year is not only exhausting, but expensive. Yes, each child loves the party itself, but balloons, games, a thousand other kids and all-the-sugar are not always necessary to celebrate their special day.
Want some alternatives? Here are seven ways to celebrate your child’s special day without the headache!
1. The Sleepover.
I know The Sleepover has become a party in and of itself for our kids, but the beauty here is that you can limit the (even, never odd) number of children
wrecking celebrating in your home. It’s also easy: throw blow up mattresses on the floor, order (or make) a few pizzas and put on a movie. Done.
2. Quality Time.
One of my kids is getting a bit old for fairy bread and pass-the-parcel, so we came up with a different way of celebrating this year with Quality Time. Just the two of us went away for the night, indulged in some birthday shopping and spent time together. As she navigates her way through adolescence, the idea of presence, not presents, felt like the best gift I could give this year.
3. The MyFirstGym Birthday Party.
Still feel like a party is essential to a birthday? Leaving all the organisation beyond making the initial booking is an excellent solution for busy parents. From laser-tag to pottery-making, there’s a party your child will love, whilst all the catering, activities and clean-up are done by someone else. At MyFirstGym, we do all this and more. We give the gift of time, activity, positive healthy energy, team building and its so easy for parents: everything is done for them. MyFirstGym parties are so good, we even won a national award for them!
4. The Birthday Bell.
A great concept to get the entire family involved in making the birthday child feel extra special. With the simple ring of a bell, their every desire throughout the day appears courtesy of parents and siblings. There’s nothing like getting your older sister to fetch you some iced water, a tissue or perform your favourite TikTok move to really dial up the birthday vibe.
5. Family Day.
As I said above, our kids crave our presence and sometimes just spending the day together without the distraction of work, jobs around the house and even friends is what they want most. The best part of celebrating a birthday together is that the location can be as simple as being at home with all the mobile phones away and the boardgames out, or a day at the beach or in the city, or simply going on a hike together.
6. Special Lunch or Dinner.
For some kids, McDonalds is the biggest treat there is. For others, there’s the Korean BBQ place with a barbecue in the table or that restaurant where the desserts are epic. Allowing your child to choose (within reason!) where they have their birthday meal and notifying the staff in advance for a whole-restaurant Happy Birthday sing-along is pretty memorable!
7. Mystery Adventure Day.
This can be as intense or as laidback as you want: it’s like a lucky dip of adventures! On pieces of cardboard, write down two activities, two lunch places, two snack foods etc. Throughout the day, hold up the two cards (the activity hidden) and ask them to choose their adventure. You get to ‘control’ the activity and expense, and your child is celebrated all day!