Our Happy, Healthy Kids in Our No Birthday Party Household


Birthday parties are almost a childhood rite of passage. I understand that. I truly do. And while you might expect a mom to post about “Top Birthday Party Themes,” this isn’t what I’m here to share. I want to talk about my happy, healthy no birthday party household.

As you can see, we do the birthday thing a little differently in our household. We don’t do it differently because we think our way is better, but rather because it’s simply what works best for us as a family. We don’t stop our children from going to birthday parties if they want to attend them, but we also don’t force them to attend. And while they have fun at those parties, they haven’t asked why they don’t have their own.

To explain why we are a no birthday party home, I’ve decided to break this down into two parts for you. Let’s get into it!

mom, kids, mini golf, family outing

Part One: Why We Are a No Birthday Party Family

I’d like to start by saying our kids don’t suffer. As far as I know, they have never once felt like they are missing out by not having birthday parties. They seem to let me know about all of their other needs, so I assume they would let me know if they needed a birthday party. The fact that they are happy is key, but I’ll get into that later on.

Like most people, our lives are very busy, so to schedule birthday parties can be challenging when you are trying to work with everyone else to make sure your child’s friends can all be there. When do you send those invites out? Two weeks in advance? A month? Truth is, at one point I sent out invites for my one of my daughter’s birthday parties two months in advance. That was the last party we had, at our beautiful local art gallery. She was 4 years old.

birthday party, art theme, art, gallery

Speaking of timing for sending invites, you must book a place insanely far in advance of the actual birthday. Especially when you live in an area with limited places to book. Want to celebrate in July? Better book by May. Not to mention that where we are located, most places where birthday parties are held are at least a 30-minute drive.

Right now, our children’s ages are still in that phase where parents often stay during the birthday party, and this is one of the large reasons we won’t throw parties at our home. Our home is our place of comfort — our sanctuary if you will. We have no issue hosting a BBQ with friends, but there is something different about hosting birthday parties at your home. Our dog ends up having to spend the day in the basement so we don’t have to worry about others being scared by her harmless barks. The cat ends up hiding because she wants nothing to do with the crowd. Birthday parties are stressful and time-consuming.

To be honest, cost also is a huge component of why we initially decided to give up birthday parties. Parties are expensive, and there is too much pressure to compete. Our kids feel the competition of “so and so had a better party” even at a young age.  

Part Two: What We Do Instead of Birthday Parties

This is where it gets fun for us. In the month leading up to birthdays, we ask our kids to start making their birthday lists. We don’t go all out for birthday gifts, but we feel it is key that their “big gift” is the gift they’ve been really wanting (within reason). This year, our son wanted a Bubble Hockey Arcade game which was nixed quite quickly since they retail for around $3,000, but he settled quite nicely on his next top choice of dinosaur Legos and a few surprises. The same will go for our daughter who has asked for a whole bedroom makeover and has now settled on an iPod. So, top birthday gifts are our number one way of making their day special.

Next up is that it truly becomes “THEIR DAY.” In lieu of birthday parties, our kids get to choose to do whatever they want on their birthday.

We take the day off of work and spend the entire day doing what they want. Our daughter has a summer birthday so this will always be easy, but this is the last year that our son won’t have school on his birthday since he begins kindergarten in the fall (so we’ll move the celebration to the weekend).

family, hats, mom, dad, son

We keep these days as local as possible but still focus on what they want to do. Last year, our son chose for us to take a ride out the Kangamangus Highway stopping at every picturesque site, and continuing to North Conway to have a special lunch at Moat Mountain Smokehouse & Brewing Co. We finished the day by driving by the Mount Washington Resort on the way home. Our daughter decided on a scenic ride where she used our old DSLR camera to start taking photos for her own album, and a train ride plus mini golf in Loon.

This year, our son chose to visit the Vermont state capital, Montpelier, to see the toy store, and then take a drive out to Cabot to visit the Cabot Creamery and indulge in cheese and goodies. After that, we came home to pick up his sister and we finished the day at Lowes. And we can’t wait to see what our daughter has in store for us this year.

travel, cabot, vermont

The point is that our kids feel like their birthdays completely revolve around them. To us, that is what a birthday is about. Not birthday parties, but rather about celebrating their birth. Their day. A day where they get to feel special and feel like they are making the decisions in a world where we as parents are often making their decisions for them.

It’s been incredible to embrace their decisions for the day trip, and as a family, we have really used these as days to explore our own state. Our kids love to be a part of local happenings, but what I think they like even more is celebrating the day on their terms.

Would you opt to give up birthday parties like we did? Or do you think our no birthday party household sounds grim?


  1. Hi,

    My name is Kevin Clarkson. I own a company called 802 Reptiles. We are a traveling reptile themed event service company.

    In addition to educational programs at schools, libraries and summer camps, we also do reptile birthday parties. We offer you the convenience of traveling to your location for your kiddos party.

    Usually we bring 1 lizard and 5 snakes and after introducing ourselves, we wish the birthday child a Happy Birthday and they get to come up front and be our jr. zookeeper.

    Each animal is brought out one at a time for all to hold, learn about and take pictures with. After all the animals have been shown, we award the birthday child with a personalized framed certificate of bravery. Also, all the other kids get reptile party favor bags filled with cute rubber snakes, lizards and temporary reptile tattoos.

    Afterwards, all the kids get to line up single file and sit in a chair to have their picture taken holding an animal of their choice. 🙂

    We will be at St Albans Kid’s Fest on June 29th from 3-5 pm doing a reptile meet and greet. This is free admission and an opportunity to get the kiddos to meet some cool animals and find out about the services we offer.

  2. My kids’ birthdays flank Thanksgiving and are exactly a week apart. As a matter of fact, there are times when one of them will have their bday on Thanksgiving. Neither was planned this way, I promise. My son had parties (after or before Thanksgiving) for his 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th birthdays. (At his third bday I threw at our house, I was 35 weeks pregnant..I don’t know what I was thinking). My daughter had a first bday party, but hasn’t had one since. It is a LOT of extra money to be forking out and a lot of time to put in, especially around the holidays and I definitely can’t manage two parties that time of year. Last year, no one had a party. We had the Grandparents over for cake and presents two days in one week and called it a day. And I didn’t want cake after that for like three months. I know I will probably throw my daughter one party while she’s in Pre-K, because I did for her brother, but after that I am thinking we will let them pick two friends on a day we can celebrate close to their birthdays and find something different to do. Or maybe they’ll ask for a joint party. I’ve even toyed with once in a while celebrating their half birthday somehow instead, but I am not sure how people would respond to such an invite if I were to do this in the spring. I have a feeling there aren’t going to be any fixed patterns when it comes to celebrating birthdays in our family. I’ll probably just keep doing what I have to do when the time comes.

  3. To be honest, I LOVE planning birthday parties for my son. Growing up I wanted to be a party planner, so this is how I live that. All of that said, I also love saving money and want it to be a day he remembers, not something we did because I liked planning it. We try to balance everything out by letting him select the theme and making EVERYTHING safe for him food wise. Last year, at two, he wanted a “balls and trucks birthday with lots of colors,” so that is what we did. This year, he’s been all over the map in terms of what will be the best birthday. Currently the theme is some combination of balloons, trains, trucks, cars, UVM catamounts, and space. Whatever he decides, we will all work together on making it a day all about him. It’s been a fun challenge to plan a toddler selected theme in a safe and affordable way. If he ever doesn’t want a party, I would be really excited to try a birthday “yes” day with him. It’s always fun to hear what other families do.


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