As I have mentioned briefly, my oldest son, Tucker, celebrated his 4th birthday last week. We always celebrate Tucker's birthday in the same way. If it is a school day (as it was this year) he takes a vegetarian or vegan treat to school. This year it was cupcakes (you can use an egg replacer and they won't even know the difference!).
Later in the day we go as a family to the apple orchard (on Everett's, it's off to pick out our Christmas tree). This has become our tradition and it is joyously earth-friendly in a couple ways.
- It gets us outside and enjoying nature.
- It shows our kids where food really comes from.
- It allows us to stock up on apples to munch on a later cook together.
- And it helps build a tradition that is centered around time together, not stuff.
We do get each child one birthday present each year. Although, Tucker didn't get one for the first two years just because he didn't know any better. Tucker is now old enough to request a gift. He asked for Buzz Lightyear. I searched for a used one, but could not find one and ended up buying new because it was what he really wanted. The amount of packaging in this one relatively small toy reminded me why I avoid buying new at all costs. Last year we gave him a motorcycle we found at a garage sale for $20 and he has been riding it ever since!
Of course others will want to contribute. This year I had Nana take Tucker to a really cool resale toy shop near her (more on that tomorrow). And while you can't stop everyone from buying new things, you can curtail the present brouhaha a little bit.
- Ask for what they really need. Tucker often gets clothes because he is older and we don't have that size yet.
- Ask for gift cards. The kids can pick out what they really want or you can use them to do fun activities together like the local putt-putt, a movie etc...
- Ask friends and family to take your child (or you!) to do something. Spending time with someone always means more and memories will start to form with that person. An afternoon at the park can be even better then a plastic toy!
- Plant a tree or plant together if the season allows.
- If you do get gifts, reuse the wrapping. Set aside bags, tissue, even wrapping paper to use next time you have to give a gift. I even cut out the front of cards for art projects later.
Most importantly, change your mindset. Remember that the birthdays your kids will remember most aren't about presents, but time spent with people they love doing things they love. What simple ways and fun things have you done to celebrate with your kids?