This past month we celebrated two birthdays, my oldest daughter turned 6 and my youngest son turned 2. Because of this I have been thinking a lot about celebrating birthdays and all of the different ways that people choose to celebrate birthdays. My husband and I both have VERY different opinions on how we should celebrate them and I must admit that my husband has made more concessions than I have in this department. A lot of our attitudes stem from our childhood and how our parents treated our birthdays.
My husband's family is not gift oriented people at all. My mother-in-law thinks that getting flowers is a waste of money because they are just going to die and is much more appreciative of a person weeding her garden than giving her flowers. On top of them not being gift people they also didn't have a lot of money and so their birthdays consisted of cake and ice cream and a small gift. They didn't have a bunch of people over either, it was just his parents and siblings celebrating most of the time. Aunts and uncles didn't give gifts and didn't come over for the birthday celebration. The gifts also were not extravagant, one year his sister received a jar of pickles for her birthday. However, as small as the celebration was and as few as the gifts they received their mom made sure they felt special (or embarrassed?) on their birthday by singing Happy Birthday to them either on the school bus or on the baseball field.
My family celebrated birthdays very differently. My family is a much more gift oriented family and even though we were also dirt poor my parents made sure we received a nice birthday gift for our birthday. We had friends over for small birthday parties where it was nothing extravagant, mostly us playing around the house and having cake and opening presents. My aunts and uncles and grandparents sent us cards with money for how old we were and we would occasionally get together for cousin's birthdays and have big parties. We went over to our friends houses for slumber parties and other birthday parties. My parties were never as big or as fun as my friends, and often my parents would take my birthday money for gas or groceries and so even though they tried it was more often than not that our birthdays left us feeling unimportant and unloved.
Now take both of those pasts and you can see why it is such a struggle for my husband and I to come to an agreement on how birthdays should be celebrated. Here is how we have decided to compromise on the issue. We have a set budget for each birthday and if we want to give our kids a birthday party then the cost of the party comes out of that budget. We also do spending money every week where each week we take out a set amount of money and that is the money we use for groceries and clothes and going out to eat and whatever other miscellaneous things we want to buy, so if I have extra spending money I can use that to spend more on the birthday if I want. My husband still thinks it is unnecessary for my kids to have big birthday parties but because they are budgeted for already I get to throw them and make them as big or as small as I want. This past month we didn't have big parties for our kids because I am 8 months pregnant and my husband just had hernia surgery so for the 2 yr old it was just my husband and I and our three kids and we did things that we knew O would like, and it was really nice to have that family time - but he is also 2 and could care less about his birthday and is just ecstatic about the Toy Story book he received. My daughter is older and cares a lot more about her birthday then O does and it was harder for me to not give her party where she received a lot of presents and got to play with friends. We had a few people over for cake and ice cream and gifts and it was a whirlwind of craziness and within an hour everyone had come and gone and I felt like my daughter got screwed on feeling special for her small party. She still had fun and received nice gifts, but it wasn't like her previous birthdays.
My husband and I got into quite a heated discussion after her party about how I felt about the attitudes of the guests and the gifts that she received and it made me curious to know what other people think about their kids birthdays and how they celebrate it. So I am asking you to leave a comment and let me know how you celebrate your kids birthdays and how you handle giving gifts to other kids and other family members!