Family Stories : On birthdays and what matters most.

I remember my seventh birthday party. I wore a yellow ruffled dress, blew out red candles on my chocolate marble birthday cake and ran around our house with my cousins and neighbours. It was fun and it was pretty much how we celebrated every birthday.

Some 7th Birthday celebrations these days have reached a whole new level with elaborate backdrops, multi-tiered cakes, food carts, rehearsed dance performances and extravagant giveaways and prizes. These are great, and it’s always fun for my kids, but having a big party can really put a dent on your bank account.

nightChoosing how to celebrate your child’s birthday is different for every parent. Whether it’s a big celebration or an intimate gathering, the main purpose is to give your children and your family wonderful memories that they can look back to.

For my girls, their big birthdays happened when they turned one. Because of the nature of all my pregnancies, our guests were always friends and family who prayed for us, encouraged us, or supported our family one way or another.

Every first birthday was a big yet simple thanksgiving and dedication party. I say big, because we always had about 150 people, but simple, because we only had 3 main events on the program. The act of dedication, the birthday song with the blowing of the cake, and the food.

It became our way of saying thank you to friends and family and formally committing to raise our child according to God’s word and His ways.


This was the Dedication and thanksgiving party we held for my youngest daughter’s first birthday. I had an amazing caterer, Passion Cooks Catering, who helped put together such wonderful details.

When my eldest daughter Catie turned 7. We had to go out of the country so we had to celebrate ahead of time. I think I was more bothered about it than she was. Something in me wanted to overcompensate for that fact, especially when her simple request was to just have dinner at Cafe Breton before we left.

Celebrating her 7th Birthday at Cafe Breton.

While we were out. Her grandmothers and aunts made sure her birthday was pretty amazing. They took her shopping, and she had cake with her cousins at home. We spoke over video calls and she told me that she had a wonderful time.

Months after Catie’s 7th birthday, I found this journal entry.

Catie’s Journal Entry which I found months after her birthday

I teared up reading it. I initially thought she would surely write about the shopping trip she went on, or her cake party with her cousins, but what I saw was a picture of our family. I was so touched that she felt “sooooo happy, a zillion times and a billion and a trillion times” with such a simple celebration, and that her wish was just to be with us.

She didn’t need all the big things I conjured up in my head. She was truly happy with what she asked for. I was more concerned about being judged on how we ought to celebrate her birthday. It wasn’t her, but the world telling me that she needed to celebrate a certain way, when all it took was a shake and a crepe with me and her dad and her sister at Cafe Breton.

Birthdays can be memorable, simple and inexpensive. Especially when you know that all your child truly wants is to spend it with you and your family.

I thought I’d share some of the ways we’ve done birthday parties in the past that our girls really enjoyed.

  1. Crepe paper party. This was back when Catie was 5. I bought a couple of packs of crepe paper in different colors, some tape, felt paper and ribbons and let their imagination take over. It was an all girls party. I think the adults had fun too. We designed their own gowns, crowns and paper jewelry and let them pose for pictures copying their favourite cartoon characters. They’ll have a blast looking back at these memories.
Is that you Anna? Is that you Elsa?
Don’t go…Let it go…

2. Pretend Play house.  We did this when Jia turned 4. Think DIY Kiddie town. We set up different rooms in the house. We turned the foyer into a supermarket with all the plastic food we could find, we turned one room into a dress up station and another room into a pretend cooking station with their kitchen toys and carts. It’s a matter of checking out what toys they already have and building up the activity from there.

Playing cashier. Selling fruits in the market.

3. Clay party : This was a playdate and not a birthday, but it could work the same way. I bought tubs of different color clay molding tools, popsicle sticks and plastic knives, they literally spent hours making different kinds of food from the play-doh contraptions.

Play Doh molds  of all kinds and tubs and tubs of clay

4. Bike Party : When Catie turned six, we bought her a new bike, so I thought it would be a good idea to just let them bike around with her cousins. They just biked around in an open court and had pizza and cake when they were done.

On our way to the basketball court.

However you decide to celebrate. Big or small. It’s a celebration of life. Teach them to be grateful for what they have and remember to count your blessings. 🙂

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