And just like that, another family birthday came and went. But not without a lot of tears, meltdowns, and bribery attempts leading up to it. The road to five was not easy. My daughter was determined to be a 4-year-old forever because, in her eyes, any age after that would only pale in comparison—with five being the “worstest” of them all.

When she first told me she wasn’t excited about turning five, I was devastated. As a person who often deals with anxiety, my thoughts immediately became morbid as I questioned why such a joyous child would not want to get older. After growing up without many celebrations of my own and marrying into a family that is always up for one, all I wanted was for her birthday to be a special occasion. I tried everything I could to make getting older seem appealing. And periodically, I would ask the same questions about why she was so against the notion. Her responses were always simple, but my search for a remedy proved to be anything but.

Months later, I figured it would be best ignore the day in order to avoid any more meltdowns.  She didn’t oppose.

Thankfully, as her birthday was getting closer, she had a change of heart. Then, it took a trip to the store and a chance to buy her favorite toy to seal the deal. That was two weeks before her birthday.

Hearing my girl’s newfound excitement, I was still determined to plan a birthday party and do whatever I could to celebrate her.  But I knew that with such a short timeframe, I had to do things differently to keep my stress level down. So I cut out a lot of DIY projects and decided not to have a party at our home. Instead, I ordered a themed birthday outfit and decorations, bought a cake, and booked one of my daughter’s favorite places for an afternoon of food, fun, and games.

It turned out to be better than we expected! Baby girl had so much fun with friends and family that came to visit. And aside from the typical running that comes with hosting a party, I did too.

Party Planning: The Creative Challenge

Although I’m a big introvert and don’t consider entertaining one of my gifts, I view party planning as a challenge where I get to see if I can coordinate the details in a way that makes the honoree feel loved and the guests feel welcomed. That doesn’t mean everything goes perfectly, with photos worthy of pinning on a Pinterest board (In fact, most times it’s quite the opposite for me). I used to think that was the case. Now, I know it means doing everything with love and as Theodore Roosevelt once said, “[doing] what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

Party planning is the type of challenge that forces me to put others before myself. The type of challenge that gets me out of my comfort zone. The type of challenge that allows me to give of myself in small, tangible ways.

And in the process, it makes space for creativity.


Getting Creative With Personal Touches

Every party-planning decision becomes an opportunity to be creative—institute a new idea, design something beautiful, or make something special. Although I wasn’t responsible for every single part of my daughter’s unicorn birthday party, I had the chance to do a few things to make the theme come alive as we celebrated her throughout the weekend. Those personal touches, from the carefully chosen colors and outfit to all the pieces used for decorations and goody bags, helped bring everything together.  

Adding personal touches is an easy way to explore our creativity when planning a party. Here are five ways we can take our creativity even further when celebrating someone we love:

Let your loved one’s ideas challenge you.

Each year, my daughter comes to me with ideas about themes for her birthday, as well as cake designs, games, and other activities. When considering the budget and what’s available, somethings may not make the cut. But I will try to incorporate as many ideas as I can.

Cater the theme or color scheme to your loved one’s personality.

Everyone in my house has a vastly different personality.  My girl happens to be all energy and spunk and drama, with a deep love for the bold, the bright, and the glittered.  That is why I opted for unicorn and rainbow-themed items with vibrant colors instead of those I often saw with pastel, muted tones.

Design the invites.

This is one thing I love to do whenever I plan a themed party for one of my kids. I decided against it this time, but I typically use image editing and designing software to create invitations. It gives me the freedom to design something that matches the theme and its colors, with all of the information placed exactly where I want it.

DIY your decorations and activities.

This can be really fun, if you’re into crafts and do-it-yourself projects.  My son’s next birthday will be the first time I get to plan a themed celebration for him, but I try to do them for my daughter each year. I like to take things she likes, make versions to fit the occasion, and incorporate them into the decorations or turn them into party activities.

This year, I also tried something I’ve seen many of my friends do for their kids’ birthdays. I decorated baby girl’s bedroom door. In fact, it went over so well I may do it from now on—only I would make sure the decorations were directly on the door instead of the frame.

Bake the cake or make the food.

As much as my daughter asks me to do this for her birthday, I’ve never gotten it together enough to actually do it. However, my “in-loves” will always cook food, bake cakes, and make juice cocktails for family occasions. I also have friends who readily share their skills in the kitchen for parties. I may not be there yet, but with all of these folks around to inspire me, I am determined to get there one day.

How do you express your creativity when celebrating a loved one?

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