Friday, January 3, 2014

Un-Birthday Parties

English: Screenshot of Alice from the trailer ...
English: Screenshot of Alice from the trailer for the Disney film Alice in Wonderland (1951). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Johns Inc Birthday_party
English: Johns Inc Birthday_party (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Christmas, New Year's, and Thanksgiving aren't the only things that happen around November through January. Babies are born, too. This means there are birthdays, and typically, birthdays belonging to the holiday time slot get the short shrift treatment.  An infamous result is the combination "Christmas-birthday" present. I have a friend whose birthday is on the fifth of January and she remembers as a child how she often got the combo-gift.  We both agreed that it was stretching it a bit, since it was a full week after Christmas. I am not advocating for extravagance and I am sympathetic for those who have limited budgets yet with a little thoughtfulness, you can make a childhood sore point an opportunity for unusual fun.

The holiday birthday children are sometimes a bit disappointed, and you may choose, as the adult in their life, to bring a little cheer in their life with an un-birthday party.

Inspired by the Carroll fantasy children's story, Alice in Wonderland, an un-birthday is simply a day where you celebrate someone's birthday regardless of the actual date.

A well-planned birthday, un-birthday or not, is about thirty minutes of arrival time, and perhaps snacking. Depending on the age, early arrivals can be occupied with coloring a cartoon drawing of the Cheshire cat, painting their own tea cups, watching scenes from the actual movie, participating in make-your-own rabbit ears, etc. One hour to one and half hours of active entertainment such as a freeze-dance, musical chairs, or a tossing bean bag game or even a combination of these activities are next. Then cake, ice cream and a birthday song should take about another thirty minutes. Afterwards, your guests should be able to depart well-satisfied.

Opening gifts in the presence of guests is a choice to be made by the family, but consider opening the gifts after the guests have left. This will discourage a mess and the possibly uncomfortable scene of disappointed guests who want to play with all the toys, all at once, or a guest of honor who loudly proclaims their dislike for the socks.

An un-birthday is made fun by the flair you bring to the table so here are some suggestions for the two or three hours you will have guests.

Excited Kid Birthday
Excited Kid Birthday (Photo credits: Giphy)

  • Give them the choice of a date to choose their un-birthday date. Choose an odd day, like a Thursday or a Friday night. You might want to ensure with your guest list that it doesn't compete with homework nights.
  • You can go full-metal-Carroll and theme the event according to the book with a crazy hat and broken tea cups.
  • You can permit them to choose a special gift as an "un-surprise".
  • Use all your holiday plates - Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.
  • Use all, which may result in a motley combination, of your leftover party decorations - think of it as an opportunity to massively recycle paper goods
  • Serve an upside-down-cake
  • Have guests enter through the back door
  • Pick up a giant frame at a thrift shop for little or no money and "enter" the Looking Glass into your party room
  • Have a wake-over, instead of a sleepover, and start with breakfast in pajamas and have the guests picked up after lunch
  • Have a backwards-trust-walk.
  • For the Carroll enthusiasts, you can have a pin-the-watch-on-the-jacket or bunny; toss the hat onto the hatter or, a reversal, toss the plastic tea cup into the top hat; or play musical chairs with music from the Disney version of the movie.
  • An English game is to have a surprise gift packaged in multiple layers. Each guest gets a turn to unwrap a gift. If you have ten guests, then be sure to have at least 12 or more layers so that everyone gets a turn to unwrap the prize. When the gift is finally revealed, that person is the winner of the prize. A simple but entertaining game.
Most of all, encourage your birthday child to appreciate that a birthday celebration is a reminder to everyone of just how special they are to you and to their family. A great birthday or a great moment,  doesn't rely on a certain date or a time. If you encourage the right attitude, you may find that your son or daughter can be a messenger for others that fun can be created out of almost anything as long as the atmosphere is positive and the outlook happy.  Love is timeless.

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