Birthday Unadorned

18 Oct

Letterbalm Wrapped GiftDear LetterBalm: Lots has been written about how birthday parties have gotten out of hand. It seems that the parties are more for parents to one-up one another. Our daughter’s sixth birthday is next month. My wife and I think we should take a stand and scale back. Instead of a big blow-out, with a theme, goody bags and a multitude of little guests bearing gifts, we think maybe a group of her and five of her friends for a special tour at the zoo (one of my daughter’s favorite places) and a party afterward with cake and ice cream. We thought we could have a grab bag, where each kid brings a fun gift under $20. That way, everybody goes home with something. As a surprise, we’ll pass out zoo T-shirts and baseball caps at the start. We need the words to tell our daughter – who, anyway, will have a family party with her cousins (all born in the same month) with cake, gifts and the works.

–Avoiding the Birthday Horde

There’s little Ms. L.B. can add to your situation. You and your wife have struck just the right balance between honoring a child on her special day and going overboard. The two of you just sit down with your daughter and tell her thusly:

Nicole, your birthday is coming up, and you’re getting to be a big girl. We would like to do something special this year to celebrate. How about a party at the zoo? You can pick five of your best friends to go on a special tour with one of the zoo guides, with animals to see and everything. Afterward, you can have a party with birthday cake, of course, and ice cream. And, how about a grab bag, where each of your friends brings a fun gift? That way, everybody goes home with something to remember the day. You know you’ll have your regular family birthday party with your cousins with cake and gifts, but this will be wonderful zoo celebration just for your day.


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