Minimalist Kid’s Birthday Parties

Macy M2 comments7450 views

I always want to post about our birthday successes after our birthdays! Miles just turned 3 (can you believe that!), so here goes!

There are several reasons we are minimalists.

I like my creature comforts as much as anyone but I try to keep them in check and see if the juice I really worth the squeeze on every purchase. We consider if we will get enough use out of whatever it is to justify the embodied energy costs and lifecycle impacts.  I consider how it was manufactured and how it will decompose.  In most cases we opt to go without or use alternatives.  Using unfair labor practices, mining raw materials, cluttering landfills are all things that go into my train of thought.

We don’t do this because we live in a tiny house. We live in a tiny house because we do this!

I even pick restaurants based on where they get their food and what kind of to-go boxes they use.  It’s not a concentrated effort, it’s just kind of part of the decision making and mostly, if I can get by without, I do.

The commercialization of holidays has bugged me for a while

After kids though, it was maddening. Even if you aren’t a minimalist, kids birthdays can get a bit crazy with toys.  We prioritize experiences more than stuff. Birthdays (and holidays) are always a troublesome time because we have big families who are very generous with gift giving. I never want to offend nor do I expect them to understand our position fully. It makes things stressful for our family though when we’re expected to take a car load of ‘stuff’ away from any holiday. A few years ago, instead of the getting upset about this we started a ‘thing’. We try to try to target the generosity. It’s been a screaming success!

Parenting Hack

Every year, the kids and us pick a cause or thing to do to try to help others. Then we (the kids) ask the family for their support. They talk about their ‘birthday projects’ through the year. They ask if they can do various things (and I put those on a list to revisit when the time approaches). Together, we set a goal and work toward it. They still get (too many) toys but bigger, they get to help the world! I bet you can guess what they remember most about their special day!

I document all of their achievements in a family book each year. As they grow older I hope they can remember and know how much good they have done. Hopefully it will help them through any rough patches and build on itself. This used to be SUCH a struggle point for us before, now we can all look forward to birthday parties again!

Our kids are 4 and 3 but this is what they have done already:

Hazels 3rd Birthday she raised 500# of cat food and $250 for our local humane society for her ‘cat rescue’ party (the best part was her getting to hand deliver the cat toys to each cat)

Miles’s 2nd birthday he raised $430 for Pulmonary Fibrosis research (the disease his grandpa died from) – we were on the road, fundraisers are less fun because its not tangible but also it was hard for family to send gifts because we were a moving target 

Hazel’s 4th Birthday she raised $400 for the National Park Service – We were still on the road (a national park tour). She had fun putting together a video for her grandparents and aunts ad uncles though!

Miles’s 3rd Birthday – He wanted to build something. We built a little free pantry for the neighborhood and he asked his party guests to bring food to donate. We got a great spot for it at a community garden and we get to check on it whenever we go on our walks. He had an absolute blast and looks forward to checking on it.

Hazel’s birthday is next, she wanted to ask people to bring plants so she could plant a garden (her birthday is in spring) and ask them to paint rocks with her for her garden. After Miles’s party she thinks she might want to raise more food for the pantry, we will see where she lands in a couple months!

The Trick

The trick we find is to talk to them, give them options based on their interests and let them pick.  The kiddos are always thinking about ways they can help people now.  I keep track of their ideas as they come up with an app on my phone.  The kids really love it and get so invested in the success.  Every day since installing the pantry they ask to go on a walk to check on it to make sure it has enough food.  Both kids get so excited when food is gone or when it’s added by neighbors.  They screech ‘It’s working!’  It makes my momma heart sing!  And Miles has received a thank you note already which makes him feel like a giant!  The smiles are absolutely priceless!

Anyway, I just wanted to share what has been so great for us! In the case it may help you, I recommend something similar!




  1. Beautiful, Macy. Thanks for sharing. I’ve seen book exchanges like that but not food. Grand idea we didn’t try when the boys were young.

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