Keep It Simple

I have mentioned in the past that my family follows the three-gift-principle at Christmas, and it has proven incredibly beautiful in all its simplicity. Our children are elated with what awaits them as they tear the paper to reveal surprises underneath. While we do not have a gift rule for birthdays, we are very mindful of where and what we do to celebrate in the here and now, since future expectations are often paved by what we do today. And you know what? We can still throw a really good party (I LOVE planning parties) without the pressure to put on the costliest show on earth.

Pre-Pinterest, birthday parties meant a Slip’N Slide in the yard, balloons on the mailbox, and serving up pizza, cake, and Blue Bell. It was a blast! These days, some birthday parties cost more than some weddings, and frankly, it has gotten out of control. When we hand our kids such exquisite platters early on, they begin to expect not just burgers and cake, but steak and pony rides. How can we proactively reclaim the simplicity of childhood and lessen the pressure for parents? Here are a few tips for party planning.

1) Build up the big day. Long before the party date arrives, get your kids excited about whatever plans you have made. Whether you take a trip to the zoo, have burgers on the porch, or invite their buddies over for a pool party, let them know you are thinking about their day and how special they are to you at all times.

2) Begin a wish list. When your littles, preteens, and teens ask for things throughout the year, remind them you are keeping a list of all the things they would like. Not only can you look over the list and daydream with them, but you can create a culture where excessive materialism doesn’t captivate their hearts, and you can continue a fluid conversation about money and budgeting. I know—your favorite subjects, right?

3) Embrace boundaries. Sometimes, parties get out of control because the guest list seems endless. Do your children really have 25 close friends? Don’t feel obligated to invite every person they (and you) know. Invite those people they enjoy spending time with, and don’t feel social pressure to make a party larger than you prefer.

This may seem an interesting time to talk about birthday parties, but I’m sharing these thoughts with you while waddling my way through week 36 of pregnancy. Sometime over the next six weeks, my husband and I will welcome a little girl, celebrate Resurrection Sunday, and usher our little boy into his fourth year! Now, as I have no idea when our third-born will make her grand debut, it’s posing some interesting questions. We do not know whether or not we will be with our boys on Easter to take part in the community-wide egg hunt, and we do not know where/when we should have a birthday party for our oldest child. It’s fair to say this March and April will be slightly busier than normal, and for some reason, people seem very curious as to my plans for all these dates. The thing is, I’m a roll with the punches, go where the wind blows kind of gal, and I refuse to allow this season to be one where unnecessary stress plays any role and takes the focus off of the One who orchestrated it all.

At the end of the day, this baby will be born, my little boy will blow out candles on a cake, and Easter will be the highlight of the year, no matter where we find ourselves. In what order these things will occur, only the Lord knows, and I look forward to seeing what He decides. In the meantime, I want to guard my heart against being captivated by the events themselves, lest I lose sight of the people behind them.

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

My little boy’s birthday isn’t about the location, cake or party—it’s about celebrating the gift he is to us and his sweet life. The birth of my daughter is not wrapped up in what date she will come or what outfit she will wear home—it’s about meeting a child face-to-face for the first time and praising God for allowing me to hold the gift He created. Easter is not about an egg hunt or brunch—it’s about celebrating the resurrected Christ who is the ultimate gift for all of us! When the sun sets and the stars appear, our days turn into mere memories. And the best memories are simply beautiful and usually beautifully simple.

Keeping it simple,

unnamed-1-169x300 Gabbie Nolen-Fratantoni loves Jesus and is passionate about serving him through the arts by leading worship and writing for various ministries. She is married to Greg, her hard-working, iron-sharpening-iron spouse. They are opposite in personality but equal in dedication to their marriage and family. Gabbie and Greg are the proud and sleep-deprived parents of two active, sweet, and fun boys and are eagerly anticipating the arrival of their first daughter in March 2016. An Aggie and graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Gabbie is a small-town country girl trapped in the city and loves getting to know people and encouraging them as they seek to know Jesus and make him known.

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