Ready to read Tasha’s Top 5 Birthday Budget Tips?
Can you have a great birthday on a budget?
Duh! Of course. Okay, but really, when your family is used to something and things and times are changing (like being stuck at home during a pandemic), how do you have a great birthday? Perhaps you’re starting a new budget that doesn’t include extravagant gifts, what do you do?
My youngest just turned one. (Yay!) We celebrated him ALL DAY. Peek-A-Boo was played as often as he wanted. We snuggled and snuggled and snuggled. We served pasta (his favorite) with Easy Chocolate Fudge Pie (his favorite). Lighting a birthday candle was a highlight. (He loved it, we blew it out and lit it multiple times). We gave high fives (his favorite) and Pound It! (his favorite), we sang Happy Birthday at least 20 times throughout the day. We danced with him (his favorite); the kids and I got down and crawled on the floor. We cheered and laughed and clapped when he took five steps! He is loved and he knows it.
Oh, and did I mention, we didn’t buy him a thing. Not a single thing. It was a great example to my other kids how we can have birthdays without presents.
“He was one, so it doesn’t count,” you say.
What about the big/little kids?
Another turns eight this month, his day will look entirely different. He can play a mean game of Peek-A-Boo, but it’s not his favorite. He might notice if he doesn’t get any presents. For him, I’m thinking Lego challenges as a family (he will win because he’s amazing), a one-on-one donut (take out) date with Dad (his favorite), a walk around town just the two of us (his favorite), charades, crazy-silly LOUD dance party (his favorite), hide-and-seek (his favorite), tag, all the popcorn he could possibly eat (his favorite), a show, and a family slumber party in the living room (his absolute favorite).
Notice a favorite trend here?
We’ll talk in advance about some of our plans so he’ll know what to look forward to. His siblings and I will pick out one gift together, (new drawing pens and notebook) but we don’t want that to be the focus of the day.
Here are the top five things I’ve learned about money and stuff and birthdays.
1. Budget, Budget, Budget.
Fancy word for: Set aside. Take some money each payday specifically for buying gifts and throwing a party and set it aside. Budgeting doesn’t mean not spending money, it just means you know where your money is going. Budget whatever makes sense for your family. If you love to buy expensive gifts, that’s your choice! (And can I be your friend? I’m super into kitchen appliences and tennis shoes with super cute summer dresses. In case anyone was wondering.) Just make sure the money is there for it.
2. Kids are stronger than you think.
They don’t need stuff to be happy. (And neither do we, except for blentecs and robotic vacuum cleaners. *Ahem*)
My oldest was crushed after a hard conversation about what he wasn’t getting for Christmas. I felt terrible. The thing he wanted just wasn’t in the budget, it wasn’t something we wanted in the house, and it didn’t fit with what we were trying to make Christmas about. He was sad for half a day and he got over it. Whoop-De-Do.
Therefore, I give you permission to not feel guilty about not buying more stuff. Permission granted to feel wonderful about making great memories. You know your child better than anyone, let the day be about him, not about what you bought. Decide ahead of time something to do instead.
3. Plan ahead.
Talk about expectations of the day as a family well before the event. “We are going to celebrate you by…doing all these fun and awesome things that are your favorite… so there won’t be many wrapped up presents this year.”
Focus on what you will be doing, not what you’re not doing. What does she like to do with you? Can you spend the whole day just enjoying her? Brainstorm with the whole family ways to celebrate and make memories. This can be extravagant budgeted excursions or completely free. (Mamas, unless your man is really into planning things, I give you permission to plan your day and let your family know what you expect of them. Be Specific. If you want breakfast in bed, it might be a good idea to make it ahead of time and show your people where to find it. I recommend something good eaten cold, like this Straweberry Bread.)
4. Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions. (Luke 12:15)
Can I get an Amen!? I need a large poster with this verse. After living a few (many) years on a spending lockdown, when we finally had a bit of cash, I fell into the habit of buying all the things I thought I needed. Remember my Amazon addiction? I did the same for the kids. Suddenly because I could buy stuff, I did. And you know what? They weren’t any happier with the stuff than they were without it. More stuff doesn’t change our hearts and our relationships with others and our relationship with God. We know this, and yet we all fall into a consumerism trap from time to time.
5. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. (Luke 12:23)
Not to take this passage out of context, Jesus wasn’t talking about birthdays OR WAS HE? It totally relates! A child is more than a party, and the birthday more than presents. A present does not a birthday make. (Does everyone hate me yet?) Planning fun activities is more work than buying stuff. (It can be so. much. work.) Trust me, I know what it’s like to have zero energy to organize and throw a party. Sleeping through the night is a luxury these days. Homeschooling little ones who can’t even read?! You’re 5 already, get with the program! (Kidding. I’m kidding.) Whew. I do have to keep this house from falling apart, too. Laundry and dishes and sweeping. Sometimes we even mop! (You know, when somebody brakes a glass full of milk.) How am I supposed to plan a party for a bunch of 3-year-olds?!?
And then I am reminded that life is more than food and the body more than clothes. Being happy is better than being perfect. Last December, my 7 year old was SO FOCUSED on what HE was going to GET, that he could hardly enjoy anything else about Christmas. We are making some changes in our house this year and not because we can’t financially afford to buy presents.
I still want birthdays to be something special.
Truthfully, I used to worry about birthdays because I wanted them to be special and wonderful, but I couldn’t afford to buy nice things. Now that we’ve paid off a bunch of debt, we can afford stuff and I realize we don’t need ‘em. Most of the time I don’t even want it! (Correction. I want new shoes. Shoes are great. I bought three pairs this month and I’m ecstatic. First new shoes I’ve had in 18 months. Somebody send help!) More stuff is often more mess and therefore more work. Then we have to spend even more time clearing out our junk and decluttering.
If you are a Heavenly Homemakers Club member, Laura has put together so many great ideas for celebrating your people. Look under FAMILY TIPS and browse her ideas that make sense for your family. Trip ideas, experience ideas, party ideas. You don’t have to come up with a plan for your family all on your own. Much of the work has been done for you!
I challenge you to find ways to really celebrate and love your people individually. You get to decide what that means. You can spend lots of money, or none of it, but in my experience, I have found the price tag doesn’t correlate with the success of the day.
Answer in the comments: What do you like about the way you celebrate? What would you like to do differently? Do you have a favorite childhood birthday memory?
Tasha, friend of Laura, and fellow homeschooling mama, lives in the middle of America and does her best to keep the floors clean. Hahaha. Her kids are currently one, three, five, and seven. When she’s not writing for Laura she can be found on Instagram @heavenlyhomemaker, sneaking Jalapeno Cheetos, painting with her kids, pretending she likes to garden, and watching Star Wars with her husband.