Minimalist Kids Birthday Party

Macy M2 comments7463 views
and hair, she is getting hair, finally!

This little lady is turning 3 in one week!  Can you believe it!!  Man-oh-man!


I sort of dread the holidays and birthdays because our house is only 232 s.f., we don’t have a lot of room for things we don’t love and cherish.  while, “we don’t have the room” is the obvious and easy to understand reason that we ask for no gifts the real reasons go much further than that!

We are minimalist people, obviously, otherwise our family of four couldn’t live in this small of a space. While that is our choice we definitely won’t require it of our kids.  But at this stage there is something I have noticed about my kids, they get overwhelmed at this age easily.  Our kind sweet and caring kiddos turn into wild animals when they have stuff to protect.  When there are less items they really do share much faster and easier!

There are lots of reasons in reality though, and they all matter to me:

  • They both get territorial when overwhelmed with ‘things’.  I think they feel like they have to watch over it and their brains just can’t seem to handle watching after a lot of things at this age. So they get fighty!
  • They also don’t take care of their stuff as well when they have a lot of stuff.  I want to teach them to take care of things, right now that means having fewer things.
  • I really don’t love most toys these days. They have one thing that they do.  Or one thing they say.  Even the toys marketed as ‘educational’ are generally not… they ‘train’ more than educate if anything.  Education comes from thinking critically and using your imagination. They seem to take imagination out of playing and I want to grow my kids’ imagination more than I want to stifle it.  I think the ‘boring’ toys like sticks and rocks help that considerably.
  • I fundamentally do not agree with the labor practices behind most toys.  They are more often than not made in other countries, with unfair labor practices with undesirable materials.  Yes, I am one of those people who will not shop at wally world… and it bothers me a bit when my kids get used as the reason to support those practices (I know I cannot change other people’s priorities, I just don’t like supporting that in any way).
  • I don’t like every holiday becoming about presents.  I like holidays holding their own meaning and celebrating that.  In a kids (at least mine) mind it is so easy to get lost under all the ‘stuff’.
  • And yes, we simply don’t have the room.

On a more selfish note, if everyone else competes to give my kids the best and biggest and brightest things then my efforts as the parent are diminished.  I really don’t like feeling like I am competing for my kids’ attention at every holiday/birthday.  I want to be the one that gives them the one special memory.  It’s selfish, I know.  But I don’t remember getting as many things as my kids get, from every direction.

To date holidays have induced a lot of anxiety.

This birthday has been…great!

Every year/holiday we try a different tactic but we do have some natural gift givers in the family so it’s been a delicate balance.  Still, we try to temper the magnitude to gifts.


  • Asked for no gifts (please!)
  • For only consumables (things that get used/eaten)
  • For experiences (zoo passes, dinner dates, etc.)
  • Opportunity fund contributions

None of this has made much of an impact on plastic things I bring into my house for every holiday to sort through (the crappy down flow that makes me have to 1) possibly upset the kids by taking away and 2) throw away/donate items I just wished and asked not to have).  The facts are that it is my job to raise kids into amazing individuals and the obligatory toys are a major distraction.

So, what are we doing this birthday!?

We picked a charity… well, I did.  Based on Hazel’s interests.  She is a self proclaimed ‘cat person’.  Her favorite thing right now is to ‘rescue’ things, mostly animals.  Everywhere she goes she needs to have a ‘rescue rope’ to pull things out of harms way.  I asked her if she wants to use her birthday to rescue kitties.  She is ecstatic!

So, we are having a rescue party!  We’ve asked guests to only bring a bag of cat food.  I also provided a list of items the local Idaho Humane Society always needs.  This is the message I sent out:

Our crazy little gal is turning 3 in just seven days! Most people who know me know that I usually do ‘no gift’ parties for the kids for a few reasons but this year is different!

Hazel’s favorite thing to do is ‘rescue animals’ (to be fair she is a little fuzzy on what exactly this means… she thinks fishing is rescuing fish… but her heart is always trying to help!) – so we are having a rescue party.

We are doing a pet food drive for the local cats at the Animal shelter. Hazel is learning how to leverage herself and her privileged to help others. She is very excited to help the kitties and would love to make ‘the biggest donation EVER!’

So if you’re in the area and you want to help her reach that [arbitrary] goal and have any of these items laying around the house that you’d like to contribute feel free to shoot me a message and I will schedule a time that we can swing by and grab it! (or you can drop it by her party next Tuesday)

“Mission: Rescue Cats” – here is a list of items they are always looking for. They don’t have to be new:

Dog/cat toys
Cat & dog food dishes
Cat litter
Clean plastic litter boxes
Dog biscuit/cat treats
Dog Food (dry & canned)
Cat Food (dry or canned)
Puppy & kitten food (canned & dry)
Washable rugs

If you are NOT local and want to send something to help her rescue the kitties you are more than welcome to ship it to our address (in the comments) or donate directly to the IHS from the button below. (She also LOVES getting mail… so a card would make her day!)

Facebook makes it really easy to add a direct donation button.  I have had multiple people contact me to chip in items.  A three year old has already raised 20 bucks for the animal shelter.  Hazel is beyond excited to ‘tuck that cats in’ in their new blankets and give them teddy bears to sleep with at night ‘so they aren’t sad’.  Her own personal goal is to help 5 cats.

We’re focusing the generosity into a place where it is really needed.  Every time we get something else or even just talk about her birthday Hazel gets a real experience on how she can leverage herself to help others.  And she LOVES it.  I have also really enjoyed spreading the news and helping her too.  I get to brag freely about my amazing little monkey princess without the fear of triggering obligatory gifting.  This has been the best birthday ever, it’s like we’ve been celebrating all week!

If you want to help support Hazel’s efforts at ‘the biggest donation ever’ you can use the donation link HERE or even just mail her a card at the address below.

Update on how it went HERE.



  1. I’m so impressed by you, Macy. You have a great ability to verbalize your priorities and explain why they matter to you. You are strong by not caving under pressure…and being a mom is a LOT of pressure! Keep living intentionally. You and James are doing a great job!

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