In years past we have done many wonderful Birthday parties! Ranging from way to many people, tearing through presents and tons of chaos!!! It wasn't until a friend of mine shard how they do there birthday parties that things changed from chaos to quiet. I will share with you my sons seventh birthday and following a good rule, we allowed only one child per year of age, so it was a small and intimate affair....
I didn't purchase any "party favors" but instead we chose to make our own with Gabrial's help. We sought out polished stones, shells and healthy naturally sweet treats (carob raisins , nuts and granola bars from the local health food store).
We sewed beanbags with ribbon streamers coming off one end. We carefully wrapped the polished stones along with some glass pebbles in colorful tissue and ribbons.
Instead of store bought goodie bags we handmade our own bags out of fabric pieces we had leftover from various sewing projects! We also tried to remember how we "do" goodie bags at our home... well, Gabrial remembered that we don’t give them to each child as they come in, instead we wait until the very end. This is so that the children have something to take home and keep, and they are not consuming too much sugary sweets in such a short time!
Guests arrived at in the afternoon. We had several games for the children planned: First we started out with a simple circle song. The children played several circle and movement games which kept them very active and moving for about 30 minutes. Afterward the kids gathered around for a special birthday story !
Meanwhile, I set up the cake, candles, and matches on a small table.
I passed out small cupcakes each with a small beeswax candle in it to all of the children. I explained to all of the children that the way we do birthdays is that we each get to have the candle on our cupcakes lit and we each get to make a wish for Gabrial, so my husband walked from child to child, lighting the candle and asking each child what they wished for Gabrial. "I wish you to get lots of presents", "I wish for you to play with me everyday", "I wish for you to be happy" were some of the wishes. Each child delighted in that they had the opportunity to blow out a candle and make a wish (and an important lesson is that they made the wish for someone other than themselves!)
After that, We told the wonderful story of Gabrial's Rainbow Bridge As we told the story, all of the children (and parents) were in awe of Gabe. He sat tall and proud, after all, this is a celebration of the day of his birth! As we spoke of him coming over the rainbow bridge, he stood up, walked proudly to us and then sat with us. He was so pleased, he was squeezing my hand very hard because it had such a "ceremonial" feel to it. We then went on with the story and for each year of Gabrial’s life with us, and lit candles. When all of the candles were lit, we carried the cake to Gabe who made a wish and blew out the candles. We all sang "Happy Birthday to You" and the every one went off to eat cake, cupcakes, and play.
The Children then had some free play time.
While, I did a quick clean up and set out a place for the opening of gifts. (Now maybe I just have a personal peeve here, but I have noticed that at each and every party we have ever been to, the gifts get piled high, the cards and tags fall off, and the child rips through from one gift to the next. I have always tried to teach that a person puts much time, care and love into choosing a gift, and that needs to be acknowledged)
So, for that reason, at our house, the gift giving is done a bit differently... Each child (and parent) holds onto their gift. When it is nearing the end of the party, we sit in a huge circle and I ask that everyone please be patient as Gabrial opens the gifts. Now this may sound kind of tedious for many, but the actual experience is a great "lesson" for all of us home and unschoolers. Also, as each child carries and presents his gift, Gabe gives them the goodie bag. It’s nice because each child gets to open a gift, plus they don’t lose it during the 2 hours of the party... it goes home intact! I’ve taught Gabe to thank each person by looking into their eye and either offering them a hug or a hand shake and I truly believe that giving and receiving go completely hand in hand and lend themselves to the "breathing in-breathing out" rhythm. I am pleased to say that it went very well.
Of course, we will now spend the next few days preparing lovely Thank you notes, and at our house... doing that is almost as much fun!
“A healthy social life is found only, when in the mirror of each soul the whole community finds its reflection, and when in the whole community the virtue of each one is living” Rudolf Steiner