Minimalist birthday? Fear not!

Last week, I talked about fear and how it can encourage clutter. This week, I am working on the invitations for my son’s ninth birthday, and lo and behold, fear is trying to rear its ugly head again. It’s just a birthday party. What’s so scary about that? Apparently, for me, plenty.

I didn’t have big birthday parties as a kid. It was usually just immediate family and maybe my grandparents. I’m not saying it ruined my childhood, but as a parent, it has prompted me give my kids somewhat extravagant birthday parties. I want to create that special memory for them, but deep down it comes back to the fear of not being good enough.

Yes, I’m that Pinterest mom that makes customized napkin rings and water bottle labels for her kids’ birthdays. I have also been known to carve a princess castle out of a watermelon, and a party isn’t a party without a custom favor. My daughter’s first birthday, which caused a complete meltdown, or four, on my part, included vinyl wall art, hand stamped fondant cupcake toppers, a giant-size Polaroid picture frame, and a character inspired menu, just to name a few.
My son’s birthday is the first we will experience on our new journey in minimalism, so it is definitely new territory for all of us. I’m currently on a 30-day shopping diet, so buying excessive decorations, etc. is not realistic at the moment. Instead, we are having his party at a pizza place that has an arcade. Even after paying for the pizza for all the guests and tokens for the kids, we still saved money, not to mention time and stress, compared to a typical party we would host at our home.

I’m thrilled about this idea, and we’ve even managed to set it up as a surprise party. The best part of all is when the party is over, everyone goes home, and there’s no cleanup!

Here’s where fear kicks in. I have to enlighten guests that we are trying to simplify, without offending anyone. Are people going to get mad? Are they going to think I’m a bad mom? Is our son going to feel short-changed because there is not as many gifts as in the past? The Minimalist Mom went completely minimal and requested no gifts for her son’s third birthday. She states that she no longer cares what people think:

“That doesn’t mean I don’t respect their opinions or try to understand them. It means that I’m not hurt when other people have negative opinions on our choices.”

I don’t think we’re ready for the drastic switch from birthday extravaganza to no gifts at all, but I definitely want to include something on the invitation to let guests know about our new direction. I’m still looking for the perfect wording for the invitation, but I’m thinking of including some non-material suggestions. On Nourishing Minimalism, I found some great ideas in this post about getting family on board with minimalism goals, and this post on alternatives to toy gifts.

I’m nervous and excited about this shift in the way we celebrate and share with our family and friends. I really think we have the potential to make the day even more memorable for our son because there is less focus on things and more focus on making sure he has a great day.

I’d love to hear how do you celebrate birthdays while respecting your minimalist goals? How do your family and friends respond to your wishes? What does your child think about it?

Leave me a comment or find me on Twitter!

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