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The Non-Leap Year Birthday Celebration

Mar04

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This post is sponsored by GLAD®. Small changes can make a big difference.

Having a child born on Leap Day makes celebrating his birthday interesting.

(The banner says Happy UN-Birthday. I made it myself with black construction paper, package string, and letters I typed in Word and printed. Is it perfect? No, nothing in life is, but it did impress by son who felt special because I spent that amount of time making something just for his birthday. Remember the Five Love Languages? This demonstrates his right here: Acts of Service.)
Non-Leap Year Birthday Celebration

On the years he actually has a birthday we have a lot of fun and probably tend to go overboard. But it’s just so much fun! Last year, when he had his “fourth” birthday on February 29, I made him a t-shirt that said “I’m four!” I printed out a checklist, the sort your pediatrician gives you, that covered all the milestones your child should have met by their fourth birthday. My son, who has been alive for 17 years now, has a great sense of humor and enjoys gently poking fun at himself.

We have always been pretty low key about celebrating birthdays. The best thing about having a large family (remember, I have seven kids) is that you are your own party. Invite a couple friends over and BAM! instant big bash. Since we have many parties: birthdays and other celebrations, throughout the year, I am very conscious of the amount of waste that a party can generate. So, when I was approached to host a “One Bag Party” by GLAD®– where we only have one bag of waste at the end– I knew we could live up to it. This is how we always do parties at my house.

Non-Leap Year Birthday Celebration

I like to set up stations, or areas, where everything you need it right there: taco station, s’mores station, hot chocolate station, drink station, dessert station.

Tacos are always the perfect food for any teenage get-together. I haven’t met a teenager who doesn’t like tacos and everyone can make their own.

Non-Leap Year Birthday Celebration

I never use paper plates or plastic cups. (Well, in the interest of honesty, I made an exception when I had my son’s entire Varsity football team over for dinner, because the thought of so many hungry, giant young men in my house was a little bit stressful. It turned out to be so much fun.)

Non-Leap Year Birthday Celebration

When having a party, hang your garbage bag in an easily accessible spot. You don’t want guests to have to go searching for the garbage can.

If you are having a large party and think buying paper products are cheaper than buying plates and glasses that are reusable, you aren’t shopping in the right places.

Non-Leap Year Birthday Celebration

These glasses came in a box of 4 for $4. I bought 3 boxes of them to recreate a recipe I saw online. Most of the kids didn’t want them, but you know what I say? “More for me!” They held up in the fridge nicely over the weekend. I thought maybe the guacamole would turn brown, but it didn’t. The kids want me to use the glasses to make layered pudding next.

I also find it is easiest to stick with white plates. That way everything always matches each other no matter how far apart you purchase the items. Sometimes the parties are larger than the amount of reusable items that you can store in your home. However, it is still less expensive than renting the items. I have hit my local IKEA and dollar store for glasses, mugs, stemware and then after the party donated the items to a local charity that serves women and children. This benefits everyone: the people who receive the items, the environment, and you, since it can be counted as a charitable deduction.

One party that we had in the summer I bought glasses at the dollar store which were perfect for root beer floats we wanted to serve. I washed them out and sent the guest kids home with the glass they had used. Perfect and inexpensive item to add to party favors.

Non-Leap Year Birthday Celebration

I try to buy timeless party decorations, things that I will reuse over and over again. Instead of buying streamers, I bought some outdoor lights to hang up on the patio. They are fun and festive and we will enjoy them all year long. Isn’t the turquoise solar lantern adorable? Shortly after the party, my daughter stole it off the patio to hang in her bedroom. I may have to get more for the patio, they would make every day a little more festive.

The Non-Leap Year Birthday Celebration

One of the things my kids have missed since we moved from Connecticut to Texas is bonfires in the backyard. Bonfires are just not practical here, unless we’d like to set the entire neighborhood on fire. It’s just too windy.

Non-Leap Year Birthday Celebration

We recently bought a small outdoor fireplace, called a chiminea. We decided to utilize this as part of my son’s birthday party when he found out that his girlfriend had never roasted a marshmallow or made a s’more.

Everyone has to roast marshmallows and make s’mores before the reach adulthood. I think it’s a rule!

The Non-Leap Year Birthday Celebration

Since it was a chilly night we had a hot chocolate station on the patio, a giant coffee urn comes in handy. The mugs are from the dollar store. Should someone accidentally break one ::cough cough:: I wouldn’t be upset at all.

Non-Leap Year Birthday Celebration

Would you like some cocoa with your marshmallows?

I made my son’s cake this year. Some years I order one, but funny enough my kids prefer the cakes that I bake. No one will ever look at a cake I decorated and ask, “Wow, did you really make that yourself?” I’m okay with that. I made the cake with love and my son knows it. And we both can laugh when someone suggests it would be perfect for the Cakewrecks website.

Non-Leap Year Birthday Celebration

The low lighting is kind to the cake in this photo, hiding its many flaws. It is an eight layer carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, in the shape of a quarter of a cake. Because it is his quarter birthday celebration. And there are 4 and 1/4 candles on the top of the cake. Next year it will be half a cake, the following year three-quarters of a cake, then on his actual birthday he has a full sized cake.

And we sing our special “Happy Not-Your Birthday” song, which has had several different incarnations over the years. The most current one:

Happy Not-Your-Birthday to you.
It’s Not-Your-Birthday, it’s true.
You don’t have one this year,
So your wish won’t come true.

We only made this song up in the past few years when my son’s sense of humor matured. When he was much younger he would not have found this funny.

We rinsed the dishes and loaded the dishwasher was we went along during the party. We had very little food waste. I had several small items for the recycling bin. And our party for 13 people had close to zero garbage– mostly in the form of non-recyclable packaging, like chocolate wrappers.

Non-Leap Year Birthday Celebration

This is my daughter the morning after the party with the GLAD® garbage bag filled mostly of air. I ended up just putting it into our regular kitchen garbage can and days later it still isn’t full.

My motto is the less packaging I bring into the house, the less I have to worry about throwing away or recycling. It is possible to have a party for many guests and still not produce an extraordinary amount of garbage.

Up to the challenge for your own “One Bag Party”? Besides these ideas you can learn some more tips on Facebook and share your own (there’s a celebrity who is taking notes for her own “One Bag Party”).

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This post is sponsored by GLAD®. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that allow us to make this website possible.

About the author

Chris Jordan

http://notesfromthetrenches.com
Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she writes about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children.

Yes, they are all hers.

No she's not Catholic or Mormon. Though she wouldn’t mind having a sister-wife because holy hell the laundry never stops.

Yes, she finally figured out what causes it. That's why her youngest is almost 6.

Yes, she has a television.

She enjoys referring to herself in the third person.

If you would like to submit a question for Chris to answer publicly, please do so to adviceforparentsoftweens[at]gmail[dot]com.


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7 Responses to “The Non-Leap Year Birthday Celebration”

  1. Liz Mar 04 at 3:56 pm Reply Reply

    Thank you for this. I hate waste, and I annoy everyone around me because I am constantly trying to prevent it. I went to a birthday party recently that used styrofoam plates and cups, and every time I set mine down, someone came and threw it away and I would have to get a new plate or cup for the next dish or cake. Eventually I sat there hungry and thirsty because I refused to pick up another new styrofoam item. The garbage can was changed twice before the party was half over, and it was full of styrofoam. They also only had paper towels available to dry your hands at the sink. I am such a curmudgeon about this, I honestly don’t ever want to attend their parties again!

  2. Sonja Mar 04 at 5:39 pm Reply Reply

    A few years ago, I hosted the entire family for Thanksgiving, and I didn’t want to eat off paper (or worse, styrofoam) plates, so I “splurged” on a bunch of plain, white plates, stemware, cheap glass mugs, and some extra silverware at IKEA. I’ve used those things so often over the years – I’m so glad I made that investment!

    • Isabel Kallman
      Isabel Mar 04 at 6:06 pm Reply Reply

      IKEA makes some seriously nicely-designed and well priced items. My reflex was always to go to Target. But IKEA is the better choice.

  3. Fabs Mar 12 at 2:20 pm Reply Reply

    Great suggestions for parties! But I have to ask, are those chocolate chips on top of your taco-dip-in-a-glass????

    • Jennifer Mar 16 at 10:27 am Reply Reply

      I think they’re probably black beans. :-) 

  4. Autumn Mar 12 at 10:26 pm Reply Reply

    Love IKEA for cheap reusable party ware.  I have plates, bowls, and other bowls which I bought for 69 cents each. They are beige and not super pretty, but for that price I don’t care!  I got “fancy” appetizer plates for a buck each.  At some point I will probably pick up some silverware to go with it, but I have so many odds and end boxes of plastic ware to use I haven’t got around to it, plus my everyday silverware is a set of 16 anyways.  

    I do keep some paper plates around for sending leftovers home with people, and it’s just nice to have a back up on hand.  

  5. Autumn Mar 12 at 10:28 pm Reply Reply

    And I just wanted to add I love your kitchen floor!

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