It’s a season of letting go while still holding on to the last remnants of childhood.
The first born is turning 14. That age of in between youth and adulthood. We were looking at how to celebrate in a way that doesn’t break the bank, cause stress in planning, set expectations high, require us to feed dozens of people, and still participate as loved ones without encroaching on cultural freedoms and peer relationships that become essential for early teens.
It sounds like a tough check list, but planning gatherings is what we love to do. Challenge accepted.
Often it’s not about the cost of the party, but the impact it leaves. When we are creating gatherings, specifically around a person, the driving factor is, “How does this party reflect them?”
So we turned to the age old goodie of a Drive In movie theater. Only a few people were invited to keep the party intimate and manageable.
Our kids have never been to the Drive In, so this was an item off their Childhood Bucket List. Cars came separately to allow time for set up. This provided a beautiful impact moment when the birthday boy showed up to a van all set up for an evening of fun with his friends.
There was a bounty of blankets to provide comfort and warmth. Chairs and makeshift tables to reflect a living room experience. We stacked the party table with treats that were food friendly for every child, eliminating the need to go and purchase food.
With kids on special diets, parties can often be a challenge for the parent and the child. For the parent, making and providing food that reflects what is served at typical parties to ensure their kid doesn’t feel left out. For the child, no matter how hard the parent tries, they still feel isolated with their own meal and a little weird because it makes them different from everyone else. Not in the cool “I am my own person” kind of way, but the “I am weird and eat weird food” kind of way.
With the age of 14 begins the journey of more independence. We left these baby teenages alone with their own car for their own party and parked the row behind. The grown ups were able to have a double date with the younger kids. This created a sense of independence, but our eyes were almost always watching.
The little kids had a hard time not going over to sneak into the big kid party, but we kept them mostly entertained. Drive In Movie goers around us thought we were a little extra with the supplies and decorations, but the look on the birthday boy’s face said it all, we nailed it.
Parties and gatherings are about the experience and impact they leave. Is it leaving a memory burrowed deep down that allows you to feel connected and loved by the people in your life? Is it drawing you closer and providing adventure and magic? The hope and goal is that yes it would. Otherwise why do it?
This celebration was a success and stayed true to Gatherhaus’ value of reusing, recycling, revamping, “use what you got” and investing in the experience and not the product.
To all those parents out there who have kids with birthdays coming up, our hope is that you will find a way to celebrate what brings joy and magic without the stress and overextension. It can be done!