The Minimalist Birthday Party

When you first have a baby, you’re like omgggg I get to celebrate another human’s birthday. Along the way, you celebrate every single week, and month. They make stickers that you just slap on your kid to help with this task. It’s loads of fun. Then, when the first birthday of your firstborn arrives, it feels like a national holiday! You take the day off, you plan for months, there are photo shoots involved, Etsy printables, themes off the chain.

Then you have more kids, and you sleep a little less, and sticker a little less, and track a little less (what day is it?) and some seasons it starts to feel like every other month is someone else’s birthday. And it can get, well, fatiguing and let’s be honest, bank-breaking.  And man, not to mention the emotional labor, how about Birthday Party labor, mamas? Show me a man who has done anything to make his kid’s birthday magical and I’ll cook him dinner. (I’m sure they exist, but not in my house).

I love birthdays, I truly do. I am that mom who fills her kids room with balloons and makes ombre pancakes. But in light of life, and the fact that our birthdays will all keep trekking on for the 50 or so years, if we’re lucky, I needed a more sustainable, manageable solution that still feels magical.

Enter: the magical, minimal, at-home birthday party. Mamas, I’m here to take some stuff of your plate. There will be years when your kids don’t want a birthday party, don’t mention it,  and don’t care. This at home stash of stuff will fly for your husband, your mother-in-law and your 3 year old. You make it special and you make it yours, and you never have to spend money again. I have chosen a primary color scheme because it’s gender neutral, age neutral and works for everything and maximizes the use of these items. I keep everything in a birthday tub, so it’s easy to unpack the bday celebration and pack it righttttt backkkkk up.

The staples:

A birthday placemat: this is the one we have and we love it and it matches the color scheme.


A hand-painted birthday plate (or buy one!): I did a whole post on this over here, but this has been a staple in our house and I love that it’s handmade. If you aren’t feeling it, you can buy one. Try to make it gender neutral.



Birthday hats: the key here is that you buy them once, collect them, and reuse them. These hats have been worn 147 times. I’m only slightly exaggerating. I use them all the time for little kid things and adult things, I schlep them to restaurants, and parks, but you better believe I collect them back and re-use them. Yes, you can buy anything these days for $5, but should you?


Banner: this banner has also been used so many times. I recycle it and spell whatever I need. It holds up well, and comes with waxed string to insert and I can attest to the fact that it will hold up for you and spell everything you need to spell from Byeeeeeee, Bandi (Like I did for my Sister-in-law’s going away party) to Happy Fortieth (for my husband) and Lovefest (for Valentines Day).


Cake bunting and candles: I collect candles that I find at the Dollar Store, Target, and occasionally at other birthday parties when people are just going to toss them. I have a little ziplock I keep of candle selections and some toppers for cakes like this one from Target. This one is similar and I love it. Resist the urge to over personalize this stuff- stay primary colors/golds! You can pick up a cake from the grocery store and personalize it quite easily.

Number balloons: this is not an item that I would normally buy, but I had the giant 4 leftover from when my husband turned 40. I am in support of getting these because they can be reused and repaired together to form different numbers. Just be sure to carefully deflate them so you can re-inflate them for the next birthday. So, now I have a 4 which I will use again in a few years for the next kiddo.

Other than the decor, the rest of the at home birthday party should fit your style – we always make our kids’ favorite meal or breakfast and play the Happy Birthday mix on Spotify.

I hope that this helps you build up your at-home birthday closet and keeps decision-fatigue low for you, mama, as you encounter many more happy birthdays with your family. What are your tried and true minimalist at-home birthday closet items?  xo




The Birthday Plate



We’ve all been there. There’s a Pottery Painting night for your Moms Group. Someone comes up with it as a creative date night idea. You need something to do with your pregnant friend that doesn’t involve margaritas with salted rims. So, you end up at a Pottery Painting place staring at a giant wall of white dishes and wondering how you’re going to maximize your $50.

I have your answer!

Paint a Birthday Plate. A Birthday Plate is a plate that is only used on someone’s birthday. It designates the recipient as special, it is festive and gorgeous for photos, and it will be used and loved by everyone in your family.

The Birthday Plate I painted comes out four times a year, and I can’t imagine our little at-home family birthdays without it. I painted it in 12.5 minutes, and then spent the rest of the time at the pottery night drinking Sauvignon Blanc and saying “you missed a spot” to my friends.

So, schedule a girls night out, or just file this one away for the next time you find yourself painting pottery.

Birthday Present Closet



The birthday party hiatus is over. School’s back and that means that every other Saturday, you’re likely to be found at a bounce house, a city park, or an indoor play space standing around in a semi-circle having awkward conversation with other parents while your children run around in grippy socks getting high on pizza and cupcakes. The birthday party circuit gets real this time of year.

I’m digging the trends on kids’ birthdays these days – many invitations are calling for no gifts, and even more kids are donating their birthdays to charities and causes. These millenial offspring are embracing minimalism in droves. Still, chances are some parties will still call for presents, or that inescapable mom tick will take over – can. not. show. up. empty.handed.

So, today I’m sharing my favorite birthday party present hacks. Ain’t nobody got time for a Target run every weekend.

The three tenets of the birthday gift closet are:

  1. Buy in bulk
  2. Buy on sale
  3. Wrap minimally

Let’s unpack this.

Buy in Bulk

Choose several items and buy them in quantities of 4-5. More than this, and you’ll risk seeming like a one trick pony, less and there will be too much decision making involved every time there is a party. Choose items that are popular for kids at or above the ages of your kids. Remember, there is more risk in buying something that is too young for a kid, but I’ve never met a mom who didn’t love pulling out a game 6 months later that their kid is jussssttt ready for.

Buy on Sale

Say it with me: Prime Day. Every year on Prime Day,  Black Friday and during other close-out sales, I stock my gift closet. Melissa and Doug and Green Toys are often on sale on Prime Day, as are a lot of board games and popular books. Last Prime Day, I bought 5 Sneaky Snacky Squirrel games, 5 Sum Swamps, 5 Camelbak water bottles, and 5 copies each of Rosie Revere Engineer and Iggy Peck Architect. Each of these toys fell right in my perfect price point, and among the 2- and 3-year old subset, most kids don’t own board games yet, so I knew the gifts would be valued and used (eventually). No one can ever own enough water bottles for kids, and favorite books are always a win.

Wrap Minimally

Wrapping minimally is about reducing decision fatigue, time spent, and maximizing the personalization factor. I own one huge role of craft paper (so many uses). I own multiple giant spools of twine in neutral colors. Every year, I order a new pack of personalized stickers (my favorites are from Tiny Prints, and Erin Condren has adorable ones too). This reduces the need for cards and means I never have to go searching for the right kind of wrapping paper, tissue paper or any other items. I apply this wrapping philosophy to gifts for all occasions. Bottles of wine get a sticker. Tupperwares of food get a sticker. Gifts get a sticker. Stickers are affordable, memorable and minimal.

If you’re looking for a solution to gift giving, you can apply these hacks to your life. Maybe you love giving your kids favorite books away- if so, buy 5 copies of 5 books. Maybe you enjoy making homemade playdough for your kids friends- if so, stock the ingredients and bags so you can easily make them in bulk. Putting in a little bit of time and money up front will keep your birthday party game running smooth for the year.