Our little Girl turned five this week. She was very excited having learnt over her short life to treasure her birthdays and of course all those Presents!!
There is a bit of a movement in the UK to tone down Children birthday parties and I get this as some birthdays parties are just too big, too expensive and sometimes too competitive. I don’t really think the child enjoys it more or less anyway, certainly not before they are aware of social judgment. But I love birthdays and parties and I have a compulsion to make everyone special. Over the past four years I have tackled this problem by trying to trying to make, bake and create my way to birthday perfection. This has been very stressful and too often I haven’t enjoyed the day, although thankfully my daughter always has.
This year I sat down and asked myself what will matter in 10 years time? What do we want from the day and this is what I came up with:
- For Florence to have the time of her life
- To engage Florence in the decision making and creative process
- To de-stress the day and use the birthday party as an excuse to catch up with friends.
- To not break the bank
So what did we do?
We switched the focus to Florence. For example each night for the three weeks before her party she went to bed with an old birthday cake book (that was once my mother’s) to get inspiration for the cake. Florence wanted to be involved in all the decisions, who to invite, where to hold it, what to eat and she created the party bags (we made CDs of Florence's favourite songs - she had sign off on each song and learnt how songs got from mummy’s computer onto a CD and then into her friends cars).
I asked my husband to help me make decorate the cake on a Friday night. When he opened a bottle of champagne the baking process became much more fun and a little bit more competitive!
What was the result?
What struck me most was the sense of consideration and dedication Florence had in the creation of the party. She took her responsibilities very seriously, helping me with the party bags, receiving people at the party and thanking them for their presents (without my husband or I helping) and at her solemnity around the ritual of the cake and the school celebration. I don’t think I have engaged her actively in taking such responsibility but there she was doing just that. It was an event in her life and she was going to take it seriously, including having serious amounts of fun. I have never been more proud.