the year of birthdays without parties

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IMG_0886 If you hadn't noticed, this year we decided to not plan any birthday parties but instead celebrate birthdays with singular family events as the gift itself.  I have to say, it has been an amazing year of celebrating each child (with one remaining) as we've made such unique family memories that have strengthened our family.  There have been birthday songs, special meals, and candles to blow out but barely any gifts to open (basically something small + homemade).

Instead, we've invested the money that would have gone towards gifts and a celebration towards the special event.  It has been so fun to plan each event specific to each child!  Annabelle and Ainsleigh's fifth birthday was spent all day at a magical place (our first theme park experience) and we still talk about that wonderful family day.  And Rowan's birthday in October will take us in another uncharted direction (first boy, remember??) on a real steam engine.  Pretty excited about that and know that he will go crazy.

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{Maybe it's all the time they are privileged to spent together but these two are inseparable.  So many laughs, tickling, giddiness, and pure happiness they exuded this day.}

For Caroline and Johanna we have talked and talked about every single detail of their birthday adventure for at least 8 months.  The plan?  Get their American Girl dolls dressed and looking their best to drive down to Washington D.C. to the American Girl Store.  We'd take our time exploring the whole store with dolls (and new purse) in hand, get their dolls' ears pieced, and they'd each get to choose something from their little envelope of money as part of the adventure.

Then the special day would conclude with reservations at the American Girl Bistro.  Johanna has had her meal planned for months now, specifically the banana split for dessert.

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 {Their special day with mama and grandmother.  They even wore her homemade dresses.}

And every part of the day came together exactly as we had all envisioned it.   All four of us were in awe at every corner of the store and experience.  We took it all in like little country mice in a big city.

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 {The Caroline doll is cheering for the homemade paper hats yours truly made and brought in my bag for the lunch that saved me lots of money by not upgrading to the bistro's "birthday package".

Pretty excited about that.}

Lunch was the best part.  Even their dolls were seated and served with mini cups and plates.  The girls were beaming.  Their were conversation starters at the table, attention to detail for young girls to go ga-ga over, and great food.

Page 1{Silly faces = this is a huge banana split for one seven-year-old Johanna.}

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 My mom and I drove the two hours home listening to Kit and Caroline (their dolls) conversing over Kit's new puppy, which earrings they'd wear next, what they wanted to sew or construct for their doll, and on and on.  They had so much to say.  And even more when we walked through the door to home for their dadd, brother, and sisters.

I'm loving these birthday adventures.  They are so personal and memorable with all of the right people focused on the event and not so much on the "gifts".

 

What about you:  have you ever planned family birthday events over presents and parties?

 

the sleepy time gal