How to Celebrate Never-ending Birthdays Without Losing Your Mind: A Do | dignify
September 24, 2015

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How to Celebrate Never-ending Birthdays Without Losing Your Mind: A Dozen Ideas for Consistent, Memorable Birthday Gifts

Birthday gifts! For any age, receiving gifts is a delight. But, if you’re a working mom and an aunt to seven and a sister (or -in-law) to six and a friend and a daughter… well, you get the picture: it can become overwhelming. Particularly if giving gifts is not how you would naturally express your affections.

In my family, I have two grown siblings: my sister lives in my neighbourhood and has two kids, aged 3 & 6. My brother lives in a different city and has three kids, aged 9, 11, 15. On the other side we’ve got two more: 12 & 14. My kids are 6, 5, & 2.

Like a wave that comes reliably and relentlessly, everyone has a birthday every year!

Over the years, for birthdays & Christmas, we’ve all dabbled in different permutations & combinations:

Gifts for everyone!
Pick a Name!
Mailing Gifts!
Birthday Parties!
Bringing Gifts the Next Time You See Them!
Sometimes Forgetting and People Have Hurt Feelings!
No Gifts at All!

    One Pro Tip to address all of this overwhelm? Become known for one thing. Give the same gift. It is a way to take the stress out of gift-planning, without forgoing gifts altogether. If you think this is a terrible idea and want to be unique every time, that’s great! God bless you. I could use your help.

    If I may be on to something, read on...

    I don’t mean literally the same exact gift (though, one year, after giving some of my nephews & my daughter whoopee cushions, I was convinced that it was the universal gift to end all others), but here are some examples:

    • Books
      You could consistently give a book or a set of books every year of every age to anyone. The well will never be tapped, and there is even wiggle room for those who claim they "don’t like reading" -- whatever that means (graphic novels, comic book anthologies, coffee table books, etc.). I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.
    • Activities
      Take Them to a Movie, Go for a Round of Golf, Have a Birthday Lunch or Coffee. Trust me: as much as little Ella loves stuff, she is much more delighted by the special lunch that her Grandma takes her out for every year. Maybe you & a girlfriend go out every birthday for champagne! Consistency of an activity is a welcome touchstone in our culture of constant change and busyness.
    • A Gift Card for the Dollar Amount of their Age
      This one may not feel substantial enough, and it definitely hinges on the consistency of doing it across the board or over time. But, it’s just creative & quirky enough to memorable, and appreciated. For younger ages, these are best for consumables like DQ or Starbucks or a candy store: somewhere that a small amount of $ will still produce something delightful.
    • Art
      It could be a series of prints, it could be different media in the same size, it could be framing a piece of a child’s artwork for them, or something completely different each time. I’ve found that inexpensive prints in a variety of subjects are the perfect gift for my brother-in-law who has a wildly diverse number of interests (a photograph of a deep sea diver, an illustrated map of Tokyo, an illustration of a Vespa-type scooter). Men’s offices can always use a little perking up, at least that’s what I figure…
    • A Collection
      This one is trickier, as interests may change over time and you don’t want to be that out-of-touch relative who is still sending special edition coins… But, charms for a charm bracelet, or postcards collected over the year (if you are a traveler), may be perfect. Again, it’s about the reliability: some items that may fall flat as a one-off can build momentum, expectation, and excitement if executed over time.
    • Photos
      A photo book, an album, a print, a framed memory: seeing photos off the screen is a welcome novelty!
    • Cash
      Of course, cash! What’s not to love about cash? So easy. If it’s too easy, see all of the other suggestions above.

    There’s a saying that “constraint breeds creativity”; well, I think that is true in this case. But, I’m even more motivated by “set yourself up with tips & tricks so that you don’t lose your mind (or your friends)”. Trust me: a bit of thought & planning early on could save a lot of stress and dread later on.

    And, if this all sounds very… nice… but too much or too expensive, here’s one more idea:

    My brother & sister-in-law (who are the ones who live in another city from the rest of us) have happened upon a routine that is fantastically simple & totally genius. They send (or give in person) one of those cards that when you open it, sings a song. It’s so simple, it’s fun, and there are so many different ones that it never gets old!

    You don’t have to find packaging or wait in line at the post office to send it; all you need is the card and a stamp. I think it is brilliant.

    And this is what it looks like in my house for days:

    Any memorable, reliable birthday gifts that you have received over the years? Share them in the comments below!

     Also: Hosting a kids' birthday party?



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