I decided to choose low-key, simple and gentle family-centred birthday parties three years ago when Miss K first started school in her Reception class. I knew I would be going against the trend for whole class parties but I didn't want to do something just because everyone else was. I chose to opt out of blow-out birthdays! I am actually a very shy person so I knew organising a large party would cause a lot of anxiety and stress for me which I did not want each time one of my children's birthdays rolled around.
I grew up with simple birthday parties and I knew that is where my heart truly lay. I still remember when I was very young going for a walk on the Malvern Hills to celebrate my birthday. I remember the sun was shining, it was warm and after climbing up a steep hill and sitting down on a little wooden bench my mother got out a birthday cake from a cardboard box she had carried all the way up the hill for my twin sister and me. I remember her struggling to light the candles because of a light, warm breeze.
I wanted to build tradition and ritual into a child's birthday and embrace the simplicity of it all. Something my children could count on and look forward to to celebrate their special day. Ahead of time I always ask them to choose their perfect birthday cake so I know in advance what shape cake I need to bake and what flavour icing they would like me to put on the cake. This year Little L has requested a chocolate button cake. I ask them if there is anything in particular they would like to unwrap on their birthday. Little L has asked for a fairy dress with wings. I love to plan a birthday day out. When Miss K was four years old, we took her on a steam train and when we stopped she had an icecream which she still remembers now. When she was five, we took her for a surprise morning of horse riding as she has never ridden a horse before. Now she's older, she likes to choose her own birthday outing. Last year she begged us to take her on a camping trip, which, of course, we did. This will be the first year Little L chooses her own birthday day out. Another special ritual the girls have fallen in love with, is having a birthday poem the night before, as they rise in the morning and when they blow their candles out. It's their birthday magic. Sometimes I see Miss K's eyes shining with tears as she hears 'For the night before a birthday' poem.
Things might change as they get older, they might want a special friend over for a birthday sleep over. But for now it's simple, it's a good enough birthday. This is 'us', how our family celebrates birthdays. It might not be a big blow out birthday party, but there's candles, cake and presents, there's warmth and so much love.