There are oh – so many beautiful, fun, playful party ideas out there, that I almost didn’t take the time to write this post.
But when our beautiful (now grown) daughter, announced she would be coming home to spend her birthday weekend with us, we wanted to celebrate in a special way, and I wondered if other people, like me, struggle to celebrate birthdays in a meaningful way without going over the top.
My own parents treat every birthday like a grand occasion. They invite all the family, have cake and ice cream, wrap a mound of presents and include a special card – whether the birthday girl (or guy) is 4 or 40. My husband, on the other hand, wasn’t used to making a big deal about ANY birthday. Having children, of course, changes everything. And one thing we both wanted to do was make sure that our children felt special on their special day.
And we are both convinced that a satisfying and meaningful celebration is not about money, or impressing anybody, or showing off. While our celebrations are fun, happy, and maybe even a little silly, they are most definitely NOT pretentious.
So if you’ve been looking at a world with birthday parties that are over-the-top or birthdays that are passed off as quietly as a winter’s nap, I’d like to give you a glimpse of our way of celebrating. Silly, perhaps a little goofy, but heart-felt and definitely full of love and happiness. When it comes to celebrating a young adult’s birthday (or any other grown-ups birthday, for that matter), I hope these ideas will inspire you!
Fun Little Extras
From the moment she pulled into the driveway, we wanted the birthday weekend to feel special, so we hung a colorful birthday flag on the porch to greet her. When she carries her bags to her room, she’ll find flowers and a balloon on the night stand. It’s a tradition we began when she was just a baby.
On her first birthday, we placed a basket of flowers and a balloon, along with a little wrapped gift, on her bedside stand before she woke up in the morning. Since then, we’ve continued the tradition of leaving flowers while she sleeps as a surprise (well… as much of a surprise as a thing can be after 20+ years). Even when she isn’t here the night before, the flowers, balloon and gift are still waiting on her bedside table whenever she arrives.
The little gift, that shares a space on the night stand with the flowers and balloon, is a little treat to be opened right away. It’s usually something small and pretty, such as a bracelet or earrings, a simple dress, or a little monogrammed bag.
The Big Day
So on her birthday – the actual big day – what did we end up doing? Well, it was pretty traditional stuff. Nothing too out of the ordinary – nothing extravagant or big or fancy. We tried to fix her favorite food, spend the day doing what she’d enjoy, and include the people who love her.
Cake – What’s a birthday party without cake? When she was little, I used to spend hours making elaborate cake designs (a multi-tiered merry-go-round was one of my more creative endeavors). Since she’s older, we focus on great recipes, rather than decorative shapes. She especially likes hummingbird cake just now, so that’s what I made.
Pajama Party Sleep In – When our little girl grew up and moved away, we quickly realized how many things we missed about seeing her every day. When she does stay with us, we enjoy every moment. On her birthday weekend, we enjoyed sleeping late and having breakfast in pajamas, as we did on weekends when she was a child.
A Birthday Brunch – If you are sleeping in late, a brunch is a great plan. The night before, I set the table as extravagantly as I could manage. China, crystal, cloth napkins, flowers, and any decorations we have on hand turned an ordinary table into a birthday masterpiece. Our brunch menu included fresh cantaloupe and strawberries, a sausage and egg casserole, french toast, and a new, grown-up favorite – mimosas.
Presents – My husband and I had differing ideas on birthday gifts when we met. He was more comfortable giving money, and I was more comfortable giving gifts. When in doubt, we do both. I can’t get away from the thrill of seeing a beautifully wrapped present awaiting inspection – and love to see the look of surprise and delight when the recipient opens their gift. The wrapping and tissue and ribbons make a fun occasion even better, to me.
Dessert – About 2 o’clock we invite grandparents and a special aunt over for cake and ice cream. it’s a little more sophisticated than a kids party, but since the guests are all family, the event lends itself to a little bit of silly humor.
Dinner Out – Late in the afternoon, the three of us go to an early dinner at the restaurant of her choice. She’ll be meeting some friends later in the evening, but right now, we get to enjoy conversation and laughter with the grown-up daughter who will always be our little girl.
Happily Ever After
We tell our daughter how proud we are of her, we listen to her stories and hopes and ideas, and we enjoy spending a little more precious time together as a family.
It’s been a wonderful weekend together, and we’ve made memories that will last a lifetime.
Next year, of course, we’ll try to plan new ideas and different ways to celebrate her birthday. In the meantime, I’m steadily collecting birthday ideas (and gift ideas) on Pinterest boards, saving up my favorite ideas for future reference.
Here at Twin Oaks, we love to celebrate and enjoy spending time with family and friends. Please share your plans, experiences, and ideas with us – we’d love to hear from you!