If you’ve been around here since the beginning, you know how I feel about birthday parties for kids.
I’m not a fan of over-the-top parties.
I wrote some pretty opinionated posts about kid parties back in the day.
I still have the same opinion.
I like simple birthday parties.
Only now I don’t feel the need to convince other people to tone things down.
If you want to throw a blow out for your 2 or 10 or 21-year-old, go for it.
But if you feel like you need to throw a huge party (and don’t want to) or if you are putting yourself into debt to throw a party comparable to the one your kid’s best friend had six months ago, well… there are other options.
Birthday parties can be simple and unforgettable.
Kristofer’s 18th birthday celebration last week is such a good example of this.
On Kristofer’s birthday, the whole family wasn’t going to be home until 8 pm that night.
I really wanted to celebrate on his actual birthday, but Ingrid had a swim meet the following morning and had to be up really early, so we had a small window of opportunity because she wanted to be in bed early.
The day before his birthday, Kristofer told me he was going to his girlfriend Mary’s house after work because she had made an ice cream cake for him.
I reminded him that we were supposed to celebrate here as soon as he got home.
He texted Mary to let her know he forgot we had plans to celebrate at my house.
A few minutes later I got a text from Mary.
She was planning on surprising Kristofer by having his two best friends at her house too. She asked me if they could all just come to my house instead.
Heck yeah, they could.
Mary and I thought of two more friends he’d really love to see at this impromptu surprise.
She texted them. They both said they’d try to be there, and they both showed up.
Everyone was at my house well before Kristofer came home from work.
Grammy and Papa were there also. Obviously.
Kristofer was taking forever to get home and I hadn’t planned to feed a bunch of teenagers dinner but they were standing around getting hungry so I threw a bunch of random food on the counter and that made them happy.
When he pulled into the driveway we all stood where Kristofer would see us as soon as he opened the door.
I didn’t get a good picture, but I did get a screenshot from the video.
He was totally surprised.
Kristofer asked for cheesecake or ice cream cake for his birthday.
Mary made an ice cream cake and I got a cheesecake from Costco.
I pulled out my candle stash. I had a couple ones, but no eights.
I had so much on my mind that I didn’t realize I bought two “seven” candles instead of two “eight” candles when I ran to the grocery store.
Eh. No biggie.
I just stuck them all in the cake.
We sang Happy Birthday and then dug in.
Unbeknownst to Kristofer (and everyone else), I had invited one more guest.
But I wasn’t sure if he was going to make it so I didn’t say anything.
As we were passing pieces of cheesecake around, I heard the door open.
He made it.
Around the corner came…
Coach Reiff. Kristofer’s high school swim coach.
He is one of Kristofer’s most favorite people, and he’s been like a father to him.
With about eight hours notice, he showed up.
And now, all of Kristofer’s favorite people were there in the same room, surrounding him.
Coach pulled up a chair and everyone ate and talked and laughed and laughed and laughed.
It was perfect.
Then Kristofer opened his presents.
Those were simple, too.
There were more laughs.
And then, less than an hour after Kristofer walked through the door, we wrapped up the party.
There were no invitations. There was no music or impressive location. There were no fancy clothes. There wasn’t much food.
And we couldn’t have planned it better.
Simple, unforgettable, and surrounded by his favorite people.
May we all be so fortunate on our first night of adulthood.