Sunday, August 27, 2006

An Experience Gift

Recently in one of my parenting magazines I read an article about how birthday parties are going overboard; there are too many parties, with too many favors and too many gifts. The parents of the givers and receivers both complain about this. The author suggested instead of purchasing another toy that is over-priced, poorly manufactured, and will likely be forgotten within a months time give an "experience" to the birthday child. She had examples like a day of baking cookies combined with a child-sized apron and a few utensils, an afternoon of riding horses, or even an outing to the zoo. The key to these gifts was to make sure to match the experience to the child and the outing would be experienced with the giver - like an extreme playdate. The author cautioned, however, that you should check with the parent before hand to make sure the experience is allowed.

I love this idea and have already done several no-gift parties for my own children in the interest of less clutter. I am just tired of gifts that sit around and collect dust. Well, I took it a step further this weekend for my over-worked loving husband. He turned 30 this week. But its been a rough year with hardly any time for romance and relaxation. His responsibility to his family keeps him from staying up late with his friends and being away from us. He is so devoted to us and his new role as a father that he forgets to be himself.

So I packed up the kids and went to my mom's house for the night. I invited over all of his friends (against his wishes), bought junk food and beer, cleaned the house, and man-proofed it. I even hid away all the baby stuff and toys. It truly looked like a bachelor-pad, if you ignored the safety gate at the top of the stairs. His friends showed up at 5 pm and by 9 pm when the kids wouldn't sleep at grandma's I started to regret my decision, but a quick call to my husband assured me my efforts were not wasted - he didn't even have time to chat! They stayed late into the night playing board games and hanging out, the latest party-goers left at 5:30 am.

We stayed at my mom's house all morning so my husband could sleep in. We came home at naptime to a messy, but not destroyed house. For some reason the guys chose not to use plates for the pizza, but that just means less clean up for me. One hour after being home and the house is already back to normal. The play-pen and other paraphanelia litter the living room, the dishwahser is running, and the trash is outside.

I could have spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars on some new gadgety item. But Caskey has spent so little time lately with these friends. It has been difficult in our little home and with our busy lifestyle. I was happy to give this to him and he had a fantastic time last night. He had a great turnout and people stayed late. I think he will always remember his 30th birthday!

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