Birthday Dictatorship — The Gift Registry

birthday wish list

Foter.com

Good Morning America recently asked its loyal Facebook fans to weigh in on whether or not “it’s ever OK for parents to request gift cards or create registries for their kids when hosting a birthday party.”

Kids, of course, would love this. My own son would be at Target with his portable scanner beep-booping over Magic cards, phone supplies, video games…and then he’d want to go do the same at Dick’s Sporting Goods too.

birthday wish list

One parent, a mother of 5, was onboard. “[A] gift card allows the kids to pick out their own stuff and also shows them money sense,” she wrote. “They know how much they have to spend and they can spend up to that amount, or use their money and add to it if what they want costs more. Gift cards are a godsend if u [sic] ask me.”

Plus, she has five kids. Think of all the junk that would otherwise fill up her house after a birthday party!

Another respondent, though, made an equally good point: “A child should learn that any gift is OK…It’s the thought that counts. Too many spoiled entitled kids today.”

GMA asked an etiquette expert too. Elaine Swann said, “The bringing of gifts is a gesture of goodwill and when we start to set standards and ask for gifts in this particular instance, I think it’s setting the wrong precedence in terms of entitlement.”

A Generous Alternative

One of the respondents suggested what has become my favorite alternative to birthday gifts — giving to charity instead. I am happy to report it is becoming increasingly common for me to see a news story about a young person:

  • Doing a pet food donation drive
  • Sking for donations to a charitable organization in lieu of gifts
  • Donating their presents to a homeless shelter or Ronald McDonald house.
  • Getting people together for a birthday party where they make sandwiches for a homeless shelter.

Young people are using their birthdays as an opportunity to do acts of generosity for others!

I was able to get my son to take this approach for a few years, but then he got older and realized his friends were getting gifts, and he wanted the same thing. I suggest the alternative each year, but I’m not going to foist it upon him.

In the meantime, I’ve become one of those Moms who provides a gift card instead of a present. Yet, I won’t be allowing my child to openly ask for cash or register for gifts any time soon.

 

 

 

Baby Born Twice is Promised Two Birthday Cakes

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Photo by amanky on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

There are two other times I’ve had the opportunity to write about someone with more than one birthday. One’s the Queen, another was an administrative glitch. This one is actually a baby born twice. Yes, you read that correctly!

The 19-week ultrasound for Mom-to-be Joni Reinkemeyer determined her unborn baby had developed spina bifida, a birth defect where the spinal cord doesn’t develop properly. Her doctor suggested an operation to close the gap in the baby spine.

That operation meant “delivering” the baby, operating on it, and then returning it to the womb to complete the rest of the pregnancy—hence being “born twice.” According to Reinkemeyer’s doctor, Dr. Michale Bebbington, in Today’s Parent, this kind of surgery has only been done “a few hundred times worldwide,” and only “about one in five of those who are referred for evaluation will be eligible and willing to undergo surgery.” 

At the end of the second trimester in October 2017, 32 people were in the operating room to assist with the rare surgery. This included duplicates of each staff role — two neurosurgeons and the whole NICU team, — to ensure a safe procedure.  

The baby, named Jackson, was then born again in 2018. He’s doing fine. Mom says he’ll also get to celebrate both birth days.

“Seeing that he was born twice, I think we can allow him two cakes,” Reinkemeyer said.

Wonder how any siblings will take it? If they stick to an extra cake, I could see it going over well — more cake for everyone. But two parties and twice the presents might be a bit too much.

I can tell you if I was a Mom with a kid who was friends with Jackson, I’d only want to be called upon to give a gift once a year! But, I’d probably be more than happy to show up twice for parties — especially once they got to that age when I could drop off the kiddos and get a few hours of quiet on my own!

Zoo Animal Birthdays – Let Them Eat Cake

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Even animals get to celebrate birthdays! The Denver Zoo recently celebrated two birthdays. In the orangutan habitat, the keepers decorated with pink and purple streamers and left out extra treats for Hesty, who turned 8-years-old! They posted a video on their Facebook page — doesn’t it look like she’s looking in a present here?

zoo animal birthday

There was also celebration last month for the 15th birthday of Jorge the llama. He got to share a nutritional cake with his enclosure buddies Fernando and Mahali. The cake made from biscuits, blended jicama, and other vegetables was a hit. I particularly enjoyed this photo of the llama with icing on its…uhm, I’m guessing it’s a muzzle? It reminds me of kid smash cakes.

In Oklahoma, Cindy the chimpanzee celebrated 50 years with streamers too. As well, as a picnic-themed animal enrichment activity and new blankets. 

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Another old fogey getting a special treat was Tricia the Asian elephant who enjoyed a fruit cake on her 61s birthday in Perth.

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Fellow 61-year-old Fatou also enjoyed a cake for her special day at the Berlin Zoo. Her cake of fruit, rice, and quark (a creamy, dairy substance popular in Germany) was gobbled up quickly. She’s one of the world’s oldest gorillas, sharing the title with an Arkansas gorilla, so it was a pretty big deal.

Germany: World's Oldest Gorilla Turns 61

Back in the States again, in Naples, Florida, a one-year-old panther named Athena was treated to a large pink, decorated papier-mâché birthday cake. Visitors were also invited to make birthday cards which would be displayed around her enclosure. 

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Another cute one-year-old is Jackie, a red panda at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. The video online just shows the panda moving about its space where there were birthday cards, but nevertheless it had 23K views in just two weeks. 

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Bet, you can now figure out why I did another animal birthday-themed blog. Plus, it’s fun to research and the images are so cute!

Stranger Makes Birthday Surprise Complete

Birthdays can bring out the best in people. Not always in the person actually celebrating the birthday — she can get a bit demanding (she writes while pointing to herself). But other people often really step up to help someone celebrate a birthday and feel loved. That is the big reason I love birthdays so much.

Here’s a great example from Canada (my native land).

Birthday surprise

A Halifax woman who wanted to surprise her mother for her birthday turned to Reddit for help. The thing was her Mom lives 4,000 kilometres away, in a tiny rural community in Manitoba, nearly four hours northwest of Winnipeg, where there aren’t any floral delivery shops.

So, Alison Hill, put a post on Reddit the night before her mother’s 71st birthday to see if anyone nearby was willing to bring her mother flowers. Within minutes someone had volunteered!

Hill ordered flowers in Dauphin, Man., about a 40-minute drive from her mom’s place, and offered to pay for the gas. But the man wouldn’t take it.

The Surprise Happens

The next day, Tia Hill was sitting in her front yard enjoying birthday wine with her husband and a few neighbors. She told the CBC she said, “If I had known we were having company, I would have baked a cake.”

Moments later, a grey truck pulled up and a man got out to ask if she was Tia. When she said she was, the man went around to the passenger side and came back with an urn full of salmon pink hibiscus and a birthday cake.

The flowers were from Alison and her three-year-old son. The carrot cake was a surprise for both women.

“A perfect stranger,” Tia Hill remarked. “She just ordered the flowers, he ordered the cake. And I was so taken aback. What a wonderful thing to do for somebody.”

Alison Hill added, “I thought that was amazing. It never even occurred to me to get her a cake — I just wanted to send her flowers!”

Tia Hill even called the florist to track the man down and thank him, but he had given a different name there than he gave on Reddit. “I don’t know who this man is, but he came with flowers and a birthday cake, so I love him to death,” Tia Hill said.

Alison Hill wrote back to thank the man too:  “He just said that I’m very welcome, and he does these things because he hopes someday someone will look out for his mom, too.”

 

Birthdays in a Box

 

birthday decorNo, this is not a blog drawing on Justin Timberlake’s famous SNL skit offering his girl the present she’s always dreamed of in “a box” for the holidays. Instead, it’s about a clever birthday marketing idea I came across. Much more upscale than the birthday in a box kits I’ve seen (and still use when traveling) at something like a Target, the Birthday Butler offers portable, mailable birthday party packages for celebrations on the go.

The founder, Lisa Bader, loves “making people feel special on their birthdays” and wants grown-ups to be able to enjoy great, easy celebrations too. She’s a former Intel and Procter and Gamble branding and marketing executive who wants to “make it as easy as possible for you to celebrate your loved ones.”

birthday decor

That’s an easy idea to get behind!

The BirthdayButler.com offers several different styles of birthday party decor, in two different package sizes. There’s a black and gold, more upscale-looking option as well as a pink and yellow party theme called Sweet Indulgence.

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My favorite thought is the Outdoor Theme one. Apparently inspired “by Mother Nature herself,” this party features greenery and natural woods.

 

I came across this party decor helper in an interview with her local TV station. Personally, I’m willing to give this idea two thumbs up. Not only because of its smart appeal to adults who are too busy or may be traveling on their birthday, but also due to its wholehearted embrace of the idea that grown-ups deserve a good birthday party too.

Unicorn party idea

Unicorn Birthdays and Celebrity Sparkle

Sometimes it is just fun to see how the rich and famous live. No, I’m not a Kardashian loyalist. But, when my birthday news alert (yes, I have one of those!) blew up with coverage of a Kardashian birthday party I couldn’t resist.

Cousins North (who turns 5 on June 15) and Penelope (6 on July 8)  wore matching rainbow-colored robes and swimsuits at the June 3 party Kim shared on Instagram. There were also horses with sparkly manes and rainbow-colored horns!

 

 

Grandma Kris Jenner…wonder what they actually call her (is there still a show people watch and already know that?) was also covered cuddling
with Dream Kardashian.

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Unicorn Party Ideas

The theme is popular for parties, so I thought I’d share some great unicorn party touches. Like this one to make Unicorn Poop Slime, which I know several girls in my neighborhood would absolutely love.

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Or let everyone wear a unicorn horn headband. Crafty kids could make their own at the party.

unicorn party ideas
You can easily go on Amazon and buy a cake topper that converts a cake into a unicorn.
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Or you might make these fondant golden horn cupcake toppers.

unicorn party idea

Then, there all the games you might play. There’s the obvious Pin the Tail on the Unicorn. Or, you could give each partygoer their own Unicorn to ride, as suggested in LollyJane’s 17 unicorn party ideas.

unicorn party idea

unicorn party idea

There are also videos and tutorials online to make your very own unicorn piñata.

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UNICORNS! It’s the best of little girl dreams: horses, magic, color, and — if it were my party — sparkle.

Birthday Surprise for Military Son

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Image source

I’m a fan of creative gift-giving. My friends did a scavenger hunt for me to find my present in college, and I loved it. I have aunts who sent the same plastic figure back and forth to each other embedded in other gifts. I’ve done the big box of empty to faux disappoint a child. Plus, a lump of coal for my husband one Christmas.

So, I get the idea behind the birthday gift prank played on the boy in this MilitaryKind video I saw shared on Facebook:

 

Birthday Prank

The boy is given a big box with more boxes inside of it. At one point he opens one to find a letter, which has him in tears reading out loud how his Dad won’t be able to make it home for his birthday. So sad. Then, he keeps on opening more boxes…Finally, he hits a note that says “Surprise” and out comes Dad — home after all.

Perhaps not as surprising is the mixed reactions on Facebook. Some people thought the whole thing so sweet — Father and Son reunion after all. Others were upset about the cruel trick played on the little boy.

One wrote: “Why put the kid through the emotional trauma of the first part of this surprise by first lying to him??? Cruel.”

I appreciated this response to that perspective: “…guess all of you saying how cruel this is have never done anything to tease anyone in your lives.”

Still, the comments made me view the video again in a different light. I’ve decided taking out the letter part, where the kid’s hopes are crushed, could have had the same surprise impact and softened the blow.

What’s the cruelest/cleverest thing you’ve done to celebrate a friend’s birthday?