baby proof: simple birthday party recap.

May 28, 2019
simple birthday party | reading my tea leaves

It’s one thing to plan for simplicity, it’s another to achieve it.

Kind of.

simple birthday party | reading my tea leaves

I’m increasingly convinced that while there are things beyond my —or anyone’s—control, that there’s something to be said for adapting a can-do attitude when it comes to simplicity.

simple birthday party | reading my tea leaves

In discussions of young kids and simplicity in particular, the general culture likes to tell us that it’s not possible. Or that it won’t come without a fight. Or that we’ll be thwarted in our efforts to maintain a bit of calm or quiet. To some extent, for sure. Kids are not by nature calm and quiet all, or even very much of, the time. And the general culture is impressive indeed. Going a simpler route sometimes means circumventing a custom or tradition that feels set in stone or at least expected of us. That’s okay.

simple birthday party | reading my tea leaves

After the birthday extravaganza of the past weekend, I guess I just want to spread a message of hope. It is possible to plan a simple kid’s birthday party. It is possible to ask that folks not bring presents and have them merrily comply. It is possible to plan a few party games and, when the kids decide they are mostly not interested in them, to let them run pell-mell delighting in their freedom and friendship for an hour. Possible doesn’t mean perfect.

simple birthday party | reading my tea leaves

Here’s to opting to do things just a little bit differently. Life isn’t simple, but the cupcakes can be.

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21 Comments

  • Reply Megan May 28, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    As a new mama, I very much appreciate this sentiment. And find it helpful when there are talks of princesses and smash cakes and things that don’t generally fit my husband’s and my lifestyle. All that matters is that the birthday kid and the parents enjoy the day, right?

    4
    • Reply Abby May 29, 2019 at 8:13 pm

      I had to look up “smash cake.” Oh dear.

      1
      • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 29, 2019 at 9:01 pm

        Abby! Just LOL’d.

  • Reply Aja May 28, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    What a lovely party! Looks just perfect to me. Bookmarking this for future summer birthdays once my little one has arrived 🙂

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  • Reply Mary May 28, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    I love this. You’re absolutely right about simplicity of planning, and (non) hoopla, and especially not having the focus on gifts. Thanks for sharing these heartwarming pictures and thoughts – I’m with you. I see my (older now) son and his friends having fun and connecting with imagination and curiosity, not relying on stuff to guide their experiences. And, plus, those cupcakes! Perfectly imperfect and yummy-looking!

    2
  • Reply Amanda May 28, 2019 at 2:44 pm

    your kids are beautiful <3 can't believe she's five.

    2
  • Reply laura May 28, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    That Faye girl is a doll! So grown up!

    1
  • Reply Helene May 28, 2019 at 3:18 pm

    My younger son is a winter baby, making outside birthday picnics tricky. When he turned six, we invited four of his friends over after school to decorate and then eat cupcakes. Afterward, they played trains, which seem universal in their appeal.

    There were no balloons, no presents, no tears, no exhausted presents. At five o’clock, everyone went home, hungry enough to eat their dinners.

    This Friday, that boy graduates from high school. We will have Odette Williams’ Vanilla Cake, and I will probably do the decorating. There will be no balloons, one present (a watch), many tears, two nostalgic parents.

    11
    • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 28, 2019 at 3:20 pm

      Sounds so perfect!

  • Reply Jennie May 28, 2019 at 4:05 pm

    This post makes me smile so big!

  • Reply Signy May 28, 2019 at 4:59 pm

    Love this, working hard to do something similar for my winter babies.

    • Reply Nathalie May 29, 2019 at 4:15 am

      Me too! We live in Norway and kids are expected to invite the whole barnehage (nursery/kindergarden) group they’re in, which in our case would be 18 kids. On top of that it is common to invite siblings and since the kids are between 2.5-6yrs old, the parents as well. Then you have to provide food for everyone, hot dogs always, plus a cake, then opening of the presents, and a party favour for all. We went to such a party the other day, we must have been 50 people in a flat (the grandparent’s, as theirs was too small) it was crazy. Our daughter was born on New Year’s Eve, and there’s no way we can have 40-50 people in our flat. I would love to invite just her closest friends but that is a huge no-go in Norway (I am Swiss, and I don’t understand this at all if you can’t tell!). BUT, coming to my point, I heard of parents of winter kids, celebrating half birthdays instead, so that you can have an outdoor party like this! I really consider doing this next year, maybe it’s an idea?

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  • Reply Rie May 28, 2019 at 5:52 pm

    Love your simple party! We were so lucky that our early ’90s kinder/early school parent group all went with park or back yard parties. (Years later I learned we were an anomaly!) My son spent hours setting up “obstacle courses” on a neighbor’s gravel driveway with logs and wooden crates and orange cones borrowed from the school for his parties. And because I am way lazier than y’all, I’d bake a sheet cake and let the kids decorate it themselves.

  • Reply Liz May 28, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    It IS possible! We threw a very simple birthday party for my 8-year old son at our house. I made a cake, but there were no presents, no party favors, no decorations. Each kid brought their own Nerf gun. They absolutely loved the chaos of chasing each other around the house and then playing musical chairs and pin the tail on the donkey. Everyone had a blast and no one missed all the stuff we were “supposed” to have.

    2
  • Reply MD May 28, 2019 at 8:14 pm

    Yes! This is so true. We had a similarly simple party- byob(lanket), a big bucket of bubbles, homemade cupcakes and a few bowls of fruit. For a dino loving boy we got a giant bag of previously loved plastic dinosaurs off eBay. We ran them through our dishwasher and they served as favors, decor and cake toppers for the requested dino cake, without adding any to the landfill. Felt like a win all around.

    3
  • Reply Glenda May 28, 2019 at 9:21 pm

    What a lovely and perfect party!!

  • Reply Stephanie May 28, 2019 at 10:28 pm

    I’ll never forget my oldest’s one year old party, where I bent over backwards to decorate, cook, and plan the perfect event. I got sick the next day. Fast forward 5 years, and I’m much more inclined to plan parties like you describe above. Some of our favorite birthday parties have been where we do a special activity with just our family and one close friend.

    Both my kids are late fall birthdays, which makes the casual backyard/park party difficult. I’d love ideas for simple winter/indoor parties, without renting a space at a local business.

    1
  • Reply Julie May 29, 2019 at 9:21 am

    Gosh – I cannot express how much warmth this brings to my heart. My husband and I plan to grow our family soon, and most of our extended families constantly tell me how my vision for a more simple life is impossible and I need to get real; I felt defeated. Thank you for the reminder that life doesn’t have to be too complicated or comply with all the norms.

  • Reply Rose May 29, 2019 at 9:33 am

    I am currently planning my wedding, and I will strive for simple! I will be looking for inspiration, and reassurance, in this safe, simple space. Thank you!

    1
  • Reply Jaspreet May 29, 2019 at 9:45 am

    Very inspiring and hopeful!!!

  • Reply Laura June 10, 2019 at 7:51 am

    Love this sweet success story. ♥️

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