If you’ve been around here a few years, you know how I feel about birthday parties for kids.
I don’t love them.
You also know that I’m on a major quest to reduce the amount of stuff we have here in our house.
This has led to a birthday tradition with Number 4 where she and I have an “experience” for her birthday rather than a big party or getting a whole bunch of stuff.
We started four years ago on her 7th birthday. She had never had an actual manicure and had been begging for that for a while, so I surprised her and picked her up early from school.
We went to a salon and she got her nails and hair done.
The next year she asked if we could walk around the town next door to us. They have a cute downtown, so I picked her up early from school again.
We walked around town, got ice cream, and she got to pick out a present for herself at an old school toy store.
She got herself a jump rope.
In 2015 on her ninth birthday, we were in a very bad way financially and I had no money. But I did have an Olive Garden gift card sent to me by a blog reader.
So I picked her up from school, and we went to the Olive Garden for lunch.
Last year was her tenth birthday. Double digits is kind of a big deal, so she had a small party. She took six or seven friends to the movies and then we came home and had cake after.
Number 4’s eleventh birthday was last week, and I never got around to sharing our experience.
But it was easily my favorite one so far.
Number 4 had asked if we could go to the beach for the day.
Her birthday was on the 17th which fell on a Sunday this year. The beach thing was dependent on the weather, and skipping school (or at least part of the day) on her actual birthday had kind of become a tradition.
The weather the Friday before her birthday was perfect. So we played hooky and headed to the beach.
We pretty much had the place to ourselves. And it was low tide which was awesome.
Number 4 is so grown up in some ways, but in other ways, she still 100% kid. She had fun running around in the water.
We took a couple really long walks.
We talked about pretty much everything.
It’s fun and weird to hang out with her on more of a grown up level. So different from her 7th birthday when we were at the salon.
After a couple hours, we got dressed and took a walk toward the very small town near the beach. We found this little hole-in-the-wall lobster place, and Number 4 got a lobster roll. It was unbelievable.
Number 4 will be talking about that lobster roll for the rest of her life. We both will, actually.
I’m not kidding.
After that we got ice cream at another hidden gem we stumbled upon accidentally.
The beach has a beautiful boardwalk, so we headed back and spent the rest of the afternoon walking and talking.
We stopped along the way for pictures. There were great views and neat things like this random little rock sculpture garden.
There were endless photo opportunities which I’m extremely thankful for.
Because while neither one of us will never forget this day, it’s really awesome to have these pictures as memories of Number 4’s eleventh birthday.
According to her, it was in the Top 2 days ever in her life. (The other one was the swim team trip in June to an adventure water park where she (temporarily) satisfied every daredevil urge in her body).
According to me, it was the most special day I’ve shared with Number 4 to date.
For your kids’ next birthday, consider experience over the stuff.
I guarantee that twenty years from now, Number 4 won’t remember the presents she got when she was a kid.
But I’m also 100% certain she will never forget the day we spent together for her eleventh birthday.
And that is truly a special gift.
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