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10 Tips for a Meaningful Celebration


“Have you chosen the theme yet?”

That’s the question most often asked from well-meaning friends and family members upon approaching a child’s birthday.

Because it is with a theme that comes the accompanying decoration, candy display, balloon decoration, sculpture cake, and innovative invitations.

Yikes! That’s a lot.

Off to Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube and more, hunting for ideas.

Did you know… that the average child’s party runs about $400?

Before gifts.

Oh the gifts.  

After all the decluttering  you’ve being doing in your quest towards a minimalist parenting life, you have to find a place in your home for the gifts your child has received. 

That’s why today I am going to share with you 10 steps to creating a meaningful, minimalistic, birthday celebration for your child.

  1. Ask your child how they want to be celebrated.
    Let them dream and use their imagination. Maybe they want to have a party in the sky and use the rainbow for a slide, perhaps they wish they could go to Paris and climb the Eiffel tower from the outside.

    Encourage them to think big but be careful not to promise them to make those ideas come true for them. You’re not supposed to fulfill every wish literally, but perhaps you could do it symbolically. That’s where YOUR imagination and resourcefulness come to play.

  2. Decide on the purpose of the celebration. 
    Weird right? That one should be easy:  to celebrate a birthday. But based on the book The Gathering by Priya Parker, having a birthday party is only a category of an event, it’s not really the purpose.

    The purpose may be filling our children up with love and showing them how special they are.

    Or maybe instead it’s to celebrate the year that has past and the many milestones that have been achieved.

    Or maybe it’s to surround your child by the people they love, community members, and friends.

    What are the feelings, messages, and values you are trying to impart on this gathering? This will help guide your choices.

  3. Choose an avenue that aligns with your purpose.
    Overstimulating activities and entertainment can become a marketing trend and transaction rather than a true celebration of your child’s unique wishes or needs.
  4. Choose fun and meaningful activities.
    Is your child into Animals? Dancing? Trains? Ninjas? How can this birthday be about their interests and curiosities.

    If you have a young explorer, spending the day surrounded by nature can be a great choice; or if you have an artist, maybe you can plan an afternoon of painting, sculpting, singing or dancing.

    Kick it old school. Hide and seek.  Pin the tail on the donkey. Musical Chairs. These are classics for a reason. Let them be cherished and loved by a new generation.

    How about a Bubble Party?

    A BYOW party? Bet you can’t guess the “W”!

    We’re talking WHEELS. As in scooters, bikes and trikes, and even skateboards. Kids bring their own wheels and then you set up a place to roll.

    Need more inspiration? Download my meaningful birthday guide with lots of ideas for fun activities and themes.

  5. Make the Preparations WITH your child.
    Not only will they own their celebration and appreciate it even more, but they can also learn hosting skills planning it.

    Bake a cake with them. Have them choose the invitations. Get them involved with the guest list.

    Hosting a party can be a great learning opportunity on budgeting, planning, and decision making, Bonus: being involved in the planning will help garner your child’s appreciation for the party.

    You also need to talk to your child so they can visualize what to expect from the party so they can be emotionally prepared. Will there be other kids sharing their toys. Will they be the center of the attention during the birthday song? When will there be cake?

  6. Be an active host.
    As you have prepared your child, prepare yourself to exercise generous authority (Another concept from Priya Parker’s book, The Gathering). Help your guests know what’s expected from them in the party, so they can participate accordingly, enjoy themselves and feel at home. And help them overcome any obstacles to participating in the party such as shyness or unfamiliarity with guests.

    Don’t assume that connections between people happen naturally, you might have to intervene to encourage conversations.

  7. Rethink your Approach to Food.
    Have you ever heard of a snack basket? Yep. It’s as simple and amazing as it sounds. Fill the basket with healthy options: applesauce pouches, granola, oranges, etc. and then let the children grab-and-go. No mess. No baking. No bother.
  8. Rethink the gifts.
    Get proactive: Send out an e-vite (the earth will say “thank you”) and write a description of the type of gifts you would like and where they can be purchased them (online wish lists, etc).

    Another great idea is a “Fiver” birthday. Where people gift a small amount of money that your guest will feel comfortable with, such as $5, that your child can pool together to purchase a “big ticket item” such as a large lego set or new bike.

    Just make sure you check my Meaningful Birthday Guide to find some wording you can use on the invites. Because saying “Fiver Birthday” sounds a lot like “Fiber Birthday”. And you don’t want people bringing bran muffins to your party. Trust me.

  9. Do a favor with the favors.
    Repeat after me: Party favors aren’t necessary. And certainly a minimalist birthday party with a small group of friends and family members don’t require party favors.

    I grant you permission to SKIP the party favors.

    Buuuut, if party favors brings you excitement and joy, then consider a gift linked to the experience they just shared together:

    Nature party: seed packet.

    Bubble party: a small bottle of bubbles.

    Think creatively about a little gesture that is meaningful to you and builds connection between your child and their guests.

    A pre-stamped envelope to encourage pen pals is a beautiful option.   

  10. Say thank you.
    Positive psychology points out that gratitude is an amazing enabler of happiness. People who are thankful and express it, are happier and have much better resilience on the face of adversity, than those who don’t.

    After the party is over, motivate your child to write or draw thank you notes or cards you can send to their guests. Paper is always special, don’t overestimate the effect of receiving a note by post!

    Or, for a paperless option, you could record a short video where your child can say thank you to their guest for their attendance at the party and for the gift received. Now that’s impressive!

    Etiquette might be a fading art, but gratitude is the key to cultivating relationships, fostering connection,  and reciprocating kindness to those who honor us with their company.

What do I give my kids for their birthday?

Each year, we choose one gift to give our children for their birthday, just one: a toy, a book, or something they want. But we accompany it with another more meaningful and timeless present I really put my heart in. About a month before their birthdays, I gather pictures of my children, of their art work and projects, and put together a photo book (there are many close-by providers that can do this for you) where they are the main character.  I do one for each of my kids on their day. 

I also include text to remind ourselves what they have been through, their experiences, and the new skills they’ve acquired.

 I hope this will help them understand their heritage, their history, and how much love surrounds them. 

If you have a birthday coming your way, I hope this inspires you to simplify and make this an unforgettable and enjoyable experience for all.



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7 Replies to “Birthday Party Ideas for Minimalists”

  1. I love kicking it old school! That’s what my child’s birthday parties are all about! “Where are you going for her birthday?!” They say. ” My house! Come kick it old school!”

  2. Like the idea of a child’s artwork in a photo book. Thanks for sharing. Try out eco-friendly video invitations with your own photos and music with

  3. I like what you said about finding a fun and meaningful activity that lets the kids play like fun games or something of that nature. My oldest is turning ten this year, so we wanted to do something special this year. We might try a trampoline park or something active like that so we can tire the kids out a little first!

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  5. My brother wants to throw a small party for his son’s birthday since he is taking him to an amusement park. I liked how you pointed out having a snack bar with healthy options. I’ll also recommend him to get some pizzas that way kids won’t have to wait for food preparation.

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