Birthday Cake Ban – Seriously?

Birthday cake debate

Photo credit: mandarinaAsesina via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Another birthday tradition is poised to bite the dust.  In the midst of the current dietary campaign against sugar, birthday cakes are facing ban from the school classroom.

Yes, I’ve written before about school’s banning the practice of sharing birthdays at school due to concerns about time taken from classwork or worries about creating an expectation of providing snacks for the entire class. But today’s blog is inspired by a Daily Mail story about a Mom’s complaint that 85% of the families in her child’s kindergarten class voted against bringing cake to school on the special day.

The mother didn’t want her child having sugar overload either. Yet, doing the math, she noted that with 20 kids in the class it would work out to a cupcake every two weeks — at most.

“Why can’t we just let kids live?” the mother wrote.

Another parent commenting on the post added: “The world has officially gone nuts.”
So long as those nuts aren’t in a cake being handed out to a small child in school!
The kindergarten in question wasn’t going to stop celebrating student birthdays — thank goodness — but planned to do so with sugar-free snacks.
Yes, there are plenty of fun, healthy alternatives to make a child feel special on their big day. I’m not opposed to a school taking a vote and ridding a classroom of sugared sweets, as long as they don’t do away with the celebrating all together.
Yet, the Mom’s words “can’t we just let kids live” resonate with me. Are we parents or police? I worry sometimes that the advice we get about how to insure our kids will be healthy and successful is taking the parenting thing too far. I am trying to go with moderation as my mantra (although anyone who saw me actually slicing my own piece of a birthday cake would be welcome to remind me of those words before I dig in!).

Tips for Handling Tandem Birthdays Tips

Brits Christine and David Lilley, turned 75 in 2016 within three days of one another. To celebrate, they did a tandem jump from an airplane. What an impressive way to shuck off the “getting old” blues!

The news of their brave leap, though, put me in mind of another aspect of planning a special birthday — handling the tandem birthday. Perhaps this is spouse’s having birthdays within days of one another (as with the Lilley’s). Or, the more likely fraught (unless you are the spouse of someone as obsessed with birthdays as me) shared birthday day or week of young siblings.

In my neighborhood there is a family of five with four birthdays all in December. Another neighbor’s two kids are both January born. So, what’s to be done to be sure each birthday gets the ba-ba-boom it deserves?

One Mom’s group considered the question for its community suggested separate parties will help each child feel special. Yet, they did caution that it was a good idea to weigh the financial considerations and gauge the ages of the celebrants in making the choice. Other advice was to ask the children what they want — maybe sharing sounds good to them. But definitely let them each make their own guest list.

 

In a WhatToExpect.com forum on the topic, people suggested that the kids share their birthday parties until they are old enough to complain. Others added that giving each child a separate cake and avoiding joint gifts help. One respondent posted a pic of a 25-year-old and a 1-year-old both getting their own smash cakes!

Another post in a different parenting discussion thread on the issue offered great advice: “Long story short: be open to any/all ideas, including your children’s.”

By the way, while searching the web for shared birthday tidbits, I came across this jaw-dropping world record. According to Guinness, “the only verified example of a family producing five single children with coincident birthdays is that of Catherine (1952), Carol (1953), Charles (1956), Claudia (1961) and Cecilia (1966), born to Carolyn and Ralph Cummins (USA) all on 20 February. The random odds against five single siblings sharing a birthdate are one in 17,797,577,730 – almost 4 times the world’s population.”

Tweet: The random odds
against five single siblings sharing a birthdate are one in
17,797,577,730 – almost 4 times the world’s population.

Birthday Courtesy…heck, any day courtesy.

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Sarah Parrott via Foter.com/CC BY-NC-ND

Basic Birthday Courtesy

This is me blogging angry. ANGRY. I just read an article about a 9-year-old who started this year in public school and was excited to celebrate his first birthday party with classmates. After being homeschooled for years, he and his mother planned a Diary of A Wimpy Kid party to enjoy his big day. Invitations were sent. Party favors purchased. Cake bought or made. Games set up. NO ONE CAME.

The child’s Charlie Brown party is sad. What makes me so angry? NO ONE RSVPed. Simply responding to the invitation with a “can’t make it” text or call would have avoided this upset.

In a post related to this birthday disaster, the mother pointed out that although she hadn’t heard from anyone, she assumed some kids would still attend. After all, several of the children that attended her daughter’s birthday hadn’t responded in advance. But this time, not a soul came to the party, and the parents were totally unprepared.

AWFUL. Let’s consider again just how easy it is to send a text. I probably could have sent six in the time it took you to read that last sentence alone.

It’s So Easy to RSVP

Personally, I don’t understand how any parent who has hosted a birthday party can’t respond. You know the cost that goes into hosting a birthday party. You know the child’s emotional investment. You know how much easier it is to plan when you have some idea of numbers of people to expect.

This is about courtesy and a basic level of respect for the people around us who are inviting us to share in an important moment in their lives. Argh. It makes me so angry to think of that poor boy’s disappointment. And how easily it could have been avoided if we weren’t becoming this society of people who are letting basic etiquette slide in favor of swiping to the right and adding a thumbs up or thumbs down to a social post.

RSVP! Whatever the occasion — birthday, wedding, retirement party…even pet playdate! Say yes. Say no. But say something. It’s a small thing you can do to make someone’s big day that much better.

Birthday Baking or “No Bake” Goodness

It’s time for another #yummybday roundup. I know the real reason I have twitter followers is because people want to see the treats I share each day. Fine. Here’s the latest greatest hits for you. It can help you with upcoming birthdays and all those holiday potlucks coming up too. You’re welcome.

For the Chocolate Lover

And because I can’t believe I missed last week’s National Chocolate Day:

These tantalizingly named Cookie Dough Billionaire Bars make the cut with their shortbread, salted caramel sauce, cookie dough and chocolate ganache layers.

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Or a double dose of goodness with @mindoverbatter’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars:

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@BeyondFrosting gives us this No-Bake Snickers Icebox Cake, which I love for the “no bake” part:

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For the gluten-free, some fudgy, gooey brownies from @Texanerin:

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Fruit Lovers Unite!

Combine fruit and funnel cakes with @grandbabycake’s Strawberry Shortcake Funnel Cakes:

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Lindsay of @Life_Love_Sugar provides us this Banana Pudding Ice Cream Cake:

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Lemon’s a fruit too…Thanks @WillCook4Smiles for this Lemon Oreo Cheesecake:

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Hand-held Yumminess

OK, this one tackles two favorites: eating with our hands and S’mores. Check out @shugarysweets’ Ooey Gooey Hand Pies:

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Also with marshmallows…I’m weak in the face of fluffy whiteness. Thanks @spoonforkbacon for these Salted Gingersnap Mallomars:Screen Shot 2016-10-28 at 4.11.45 PM.png

Plus one more from @shugarysweets who often makes my #yummybday tweets — Birthday Cake Fudge.

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Finally, another of my favorite ingredients from a familiar fellow blogger @cookierookiebec. How about Loaded Salted Caramel Soft Batch Cookies?

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Can you believe I held off an entire year before sharing all that yumminess in one blog? I need to do this again more often. I also welcome suggestions. Or, if anyone wants me to do some taste testing of sweets recipes, let me know at @BirthdaysBest…I’m willing.

Birthdays are for Sharing, I suppose

 

birthday presents

Photo credit: Melinda Taber via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

The other day at work I had the opportunity to watch this video of Bronx Zoo gorillas enjoying cupcakes. It is not entirely clear whether it was a birthday. What amused me, though, was seeing the gorillas grabbing handfuls of cupcakes and refusing to share.

This got me thinking about sharing and birthdays. I’ve written in the past about how much I think it would suck to share my birthday with another person I loved. Or even liked. I might not like/love them so much after that. This pretty much sums it up (stupid typo aside):

At the same time, I know I’m not the only one who likes to see what celebrity shares my birthday. Somehow, by being born on the same day as Elizabeth Shue I am that much cooler on my birthday.

Yet, another way of looking at birthdays is what they teach people (who are bigger than me) about sharing. Kids, for instance, have to go to stores and find toys to give to someone else. They then have to actually hand said toys over to another child. (Parting is such un-sweet sorrow).

I thought I would share some other ways to teach about sharing, gleaned from Parents and WebMD:

  • Set a time limit on the sharing to make it more manageable (in a birthday context you may hold the balloon for 60 seconds and then your sister gets it).
  • Share with those in need. Have the child collect items from their closet, cupboard, toy bin to donate to charity.
  • Role play. OK, I was a theatre major. I could probably do this one.
  • Acknowledge positive behaviors. When your child does share notice it and commend him or her on a job well done. Too often we point out the negatives and don’t recognize the good the child does.
  • Set expectations in advance so as to prepare the child to share.
  • Lead by example. Parents. Yeah, yeah, like we don’t hear that one all of the time. Harrumph.

Yes, presumably I learned how to share better while writing that list. But let’s just stay away from my birthday date so we don’t have to find out.

Employee Birthday Benefits

As organizational development folks study employee engagement at great length, I suggest a simple tool to enhance morale — birthday benefits.

Just this month, my office job employer has treated two of our team to birthday cakes. We were even asked in advance what kind of cake we’d like best — so there was even an element of choice! Plus, even the person who wasn’t having a birthday could look forward to the break of enjoying a slice of cake together. It’s a win for everyone at work.birthday benefits

As I sat enjoying my second “small” slice of chocolate cake at the office in under two weeks (we’re not talking about all of the slices I ate at home for my own birthday), I wondered what other examples of birthday employee benefits I might find.

Birthday Holiday

Entrepreneur suggests the following in its 10 Benefits Employees Welcome and Every Company Can Afford:

“1. Birthdays off.
Everybody has one, so consider giving employees a paid day off to celebrate their birthday or perhaps a floating holiday instead.”

Of course this is #1. Why doesn’t want their birthday off? Or at least a day off of their own choosing?

On one HR site supporting the “paid birthday holiday” an employee relations-themed blog noted that the majority of departments celebrate with cake and singing, but the birthday holiday “sends a great message.” This shows the organization doesn’t view the birthday in terms of workers “getting older, benefit costs going up and efficiency going down.” The author even suggests the holiday might be given only to employees after three years of service to cut costs.

Piping up on this same Birthday Holiday idea, a separate HR voice added another perspective: “Some people may not work well on their birthday as this is when they would like to have a big party and celebrate throughout the whole day. By giving them that day off, they get to have that day of rest and relaxation that may prove quite beneficial.”

Birthday at Work Pitfalls

Really, where is the downfall to offering this one extra way to celebrate the employee?

Apparently there remain concerns. The Society for Human Resource Management featured consideration of whether or not to recognize employee benefits in a 2015 blog. The article began:

“Recognizing employee birthdays can be a low-cost yet personal and special way to recognize employees. It can also be a means to upset employees or lead to allegations of unlawful discrimination if not handled correctly.”

WHAT?

Apparently this “seemingly harmless act of celebration” could:

  • be seen as a violation of privacy, a misuse of HR files
  • pressure employees to pitch in for cakes and gifts they can’t afford
  • be at odds with employee religious or birthday beliefs

I didn’t know about the last one. Now I’m going to have to track down the religions prohibiting “the celebration of holidays and other events, including birthdays.” Another blog…Oh, it’s Jehovah’s Witnesses. The SHRM tells us in another blog they believe it is a sin. I guess I might know that if I ever answered the door when they called.

Great Birthday Benefit Ideas

One thing this article made me sure about is my complete disinterest in being in HR. I can embrace the advice to always ask first and respect the birthday celebrants wishes for privacy or not. Still, I’m much more behind the great ideas a SHRM LinkedIn post on the topic generated:

● Electronic birthday cards, especially at large organizations.
● Surprise decorations at the employee’s desk.
● Lunch with a manager.
● Gift cards to popular stores or restaurants.
● Cash gifts based on years of service.
● A company contribution to a charity of the celebrant’s choice.
Monthly celebrations, perhaps with a cake, that acknowledge all workers born in that month.

Except perhaps that last one. By now my loyal readers can be sure I don’t want to have to share my birthday with others — not even work colleagues…sorry (not sorry).

Birthday Games for App Generation

There’s a new release exciting the gamer population. I too was excited when I saw the title. — Birthdays the Beginning is due out in early 2017. It’s the latest from the developer of Harvest Moon (and apparently that means something big in gamer world).

I’ve checked out the simulation game screen shots and related press. I’m disappointed. The only the reason it’s related to birthdays is because the game sees you birthing an entire ecosystem. One advance blurb summarizes the premise as follows:

A garden game in which players create cube-shaped worlds that give rise to diverse and unique lifeforms. Shape the geography and alter the temperature of each world to create the conditions for life and witness the birth of an entire ecosystem!

Sigh. I don’t see any cupcakes, balloons, or party favors in any of the screenshots. The closest we get is this one in which it could be thought a creature is floating alongside some scorching birthday fireworks (or cakes with too many candles˚).

Birthdays the Beginning game shot

Image source: Steam

I looked online to see what kinds of games exist in the app store related to this special event in all of our lives.

My Birthday Party — The Game lets you choose a birthday boy, girl or pet, bake a virtual cake, set the table, open presents and blow out the candles. All without any cleanup required. No wonder the kids involved have such saucer eyes!

Birthday Party Game App

Toca Birthday Party has the same idea and even lets you shoot fun party poppers. Apparently you also put things away in the dishwasher after party planning goes well, so I guess there’s a lesson in there too.

The Yo Gabba Gabba Birthday Party is about a “super-fun party for Brobee’s fourth birthday” and kids help catch falling plates, find matching gifts, swing at a pinata and play party hat shuffle along with their favorite characters from the show.

Baby Panda’s Birthday Party creates “a warm and happy atmosphere” as you help celebrate Kiki’s birthday with cream cakes and donuts waving at you.

You might have noticed all of these games are toddler focused. Boo. I don’t see why an adult can’t enjoy birthday game fun too. My suggestion?

Birthday Balloon Blast. You pop birthday balloons in a Tetris/Candy Crush kind of way, but then once the level is complete you get to unwrap a present with a reward for the next level.

What interactive and fun game might you suggest that could be birthday themed?