Birthdays, anniversaries, and vacations – these are special times in a family’s life and can create lasting memories.
However, as treasured and important as these events are, some families try to make too much of them. Parents may try to turn each birthday party into the best one ever. Or they feel they have to fulfill every wish on their children’s gift lists. Inevitably, that approach can create anxiety and disappointment, since few events turn out perfectly, and we all know that our young children can almost never have everything they want… nor should they!
When they look back at their youth, your child’s most important memories will probably be centered around family, not typically around what toys they got or what theme their party had. Remember that events don’t have to have a big price tag to be fun, and they don’t have to be complex or elaborate to be memorable.
How To Make Parties More Special
Ask your child if they have a preference about what type of party they want to have. It may help to not leave it too open-ended, so you may want to offer them a few choices and ask which option appeals the most. Try to keep it relatively simple – your child isn’t likely to be critiquing how you put it together, so you don’t need to make it elaborate. Sometimes just some simple games or crafts followed by a snack are all that you need. Ideas for crafts and games you can do for the kids are often available on social media, or even better, ask your friends or neighbors what types of things they have found to be simple and fun!
As far as gifts go, again… try to avoid going overboard. Have your child draw up a list of things he or she wants so that you and others have gift ideas from which to choose. Tell the child from the beginning that they may only be able to get one or two things, and have him or her underline or indicate top preferences in some manner. This way, they will understand from the get-go that they won’t get everything on the list, and they won’t be disappointed. And if you can, try to surprise them with something not on the list.
If your family budget does not allow you to buy your child most of what he wants, do not feel guilty; instead, choose one or two gifts that will mean the most, rather than a dozen that don’t. Even if you could provide for your child’s every wish, some selectivity can teach him to set priorities and to learn values.
More importantly, spend time with and show your love for your child; this is much more significant and lasting than material items. Remember that special events – from family gatherings to attendance at school recitals – are times to demonstrate the specialness of the people you care about. Often that just means being there, and enjoying it with them.
Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12 (Copyright © 2004 American Academy of Pediatrics)