Why We Keep Birthdays Simple

These cakes for my daughter’s 1st birthday weren’t the prettiest. They were tasty though!

Both of my kids have summer birthdays. That combined with Father’s Day, July 4th, and juggling a big extended family is causing me to have celebrations on the brain. My 4 year old son recently and unknowingly reminded me why we keep our holidays and birthdays simple: because right now we can.

Learning the Hard Way

When it was time for our son’s first birthday we wanted to have a family get together. Everyone had been so supportive in helping us get ready for our first baby and during our first year as new parents that my husband and I wanted to show them a good time. We thought we would “keep it easy” and have an outdoor pool party. HA! That turned into cleaning for a week before the party, grilling for 30 people (which felt like catering), and then cleaning for several days after. It was exhausting.

The next year I thought I was being smart by getting a Groupon at one of those inflatable play places for his birthday. My thought was that having the party outside  of our home would eliminate all that cleaning before and after business.

When we got to the inflatable place though my son was so overwhelmed he stayed on my hip with his head buried in my chest the entire time. I realized then he had only done inflatables at our small church. Taking my little guy to a brand new place for his own party was not a great idea. He had a much better time playing in the backyard with his cousins later that day.

Since then we have thrown parties for my son and daughter in the backyard but served only cake and ice cream or had celebrations at their favorite parks with refreshments like chips and sandwiches.  Also, the kids are a little older and able to offer more input on what they want now.

We used finger paints and sidewalk chalk to have a mural party in the backyard for my daughter’s 2nd birthday. Spent $10 bucks, and it was a blast.


Mad Science Birthday in the backyard. Experiments with cornstarch, baking soda, vinegar, and food coloring.

  Just when I start to feel bad . . . 

Since our families are so big and generous, we keep our immediate family Christmas small. This last year the kids started to REALLY get into the holiday spirit. I started second guessing our quiet Christmas mornings at home. But our kids woke up and spent a full hour at the table going through their stocking stuffers and eating their breakfast before they were even interested in opening gifts.

See that big unopened present behind them? Yeah, we could have gotten away with just giving them their stockings.

 A similar thing happened at Easter. I was going to go to the store that weekend and get a bunch of eggs and dye kits. On Thursday though the kids started asking to dye eggs. I boiled the 6 we had in the fridge, put some plain ole food coloring in some cups with vinegar, and they dyed and re-dyed those eggs all night. Then they didn’t ask to do it again. That was it; they got their fill.

We started with 6 eggs and ended with 4. The kids were perfectly happy.


Because right now we can

More recently my son has been asking for a Hot Wheels birthday party. It will be his 5th birthday. For some reason I thought that meant it had to be a big party. Why do numbers divisible by 5 make me feel that way???

I started looking at go kart places and birthday party packages. Realizing this was going to add up fast and remembering my past mistakes, I asked my son what he wanted to do for his Hot Wheels party. His answer was to have his friends over to play cars in the living room. He wanted to have a big cake and maybe some balloons. DONE! We can do that.

So why do we keep our birthday and holiday celebrations simple? Because my kids are 2 and 4, and we can get away with it right now. They don’t get to see all their favorite people or get presents or have cake everyday. If one of those things happen, it is going to be a special time. If more than one of those things happens, it will be a great time.

Celebrations should be fun. This should be true for the kids but also for the parents. Keeping things simple lowers MY stress and helps me to enjoy their birthdays and holidays too. I don’t know how long this keeping it simple thing will last, but I am going to take advantage of it for as long as I can. 


  1. Parties go from “simple” to “lots of work” really quickly! It also makes it extra disappointing when people cancel at the last minute! I’m trying to remember that low key is more enjoyable for everyone!

  2. My nephews have really gotten into the spirit of birthdays. Now almost any time we have dinner together, we have to stick candles in the dessert and sing. And that’s enough for them. That’s a party.

  3. I was just talking to a friend about this! It’s no fun when you feel like you have to one-up yourself every year. Keep it simple. No one remembers all the gifts and flare… it’s the feelings of love and togetherness that stick with a person.

  4. Aww Lacey, what a great blog post! I remember reading about the birthday party you did with drawing on the fence. Sounds like a great time – and a fantastic example of how simplicity is a good (and happy) thing. Sending you love. Glad I caught this one!

    Love, Debbie


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