The upside of our 40s?

birthdays

Photo on Foter.com

At a surprise birthday dinner for a friend the other night, someone suggested we offer encouraging input about turning 40. The other women at the table, even the one person who was not yet 40, chimed in with how much stronger they felt now that they were older:

  • “I know what I want and can ask for it.”
  • “I don’t care as much what other people think.”
  • “I’m better at saying No.”
  • “I can love the people I choose to love and not worry so much about the others.”
  • “I’ve figured out who I am.”

All this sounds great, right? But I was having a more difficult time coming up with positives. I still love birthdays, but I feel as if this is the year where I stopped loving getting older.

The flip side of 40s

In the past I was the youngest of all my friends, so that helped. But that’s not true any longer. At this event, I was the deepest into the 40s of any of the women at the table. Later that night I asked the same question of my husband, a year older than me. He also didn’t have a lot great to say about being in our 40s. Our list looks more like:

  • “My hair is really turning gray now — all over.”
  • “The wrinkles on my face are deepening noticeably.”
  • “It is nearly impossible to lose any weight no matter how much I exercise or how well I eat.”
  • “More foods disagree with me now.”
  • “My body takes so much longer to recover from exercise now.”

Now, the obvious answer is that we’re just more negative people (or a cake half eaten kind of people). But, I don’t know about that. I am otherwise in a good place in my life. I practice mindfulness. I am exercising regularly. I eat more intentionally than I have in the past. I am doing a job I love. I get to blog about birthdays…

Maybe I’m just more of a realist. The women at the table were being cheerleaders helping the woman turning 40 to feel good about her milestone birthday. They might agree with me about all of the items on the second list, but realized that wasn’t what our friend wanted to hear at that moment. So, let’s chalk it up to another advantage of being 40 — we know when to keep our mouths shut in favor of greater peace and happiness. for those around us!

Happy Birthday — Have a Meat Cake

Many food and fashion trends have originated in Japan, but I’ll be interested to see if this one takes off in North America. Apparently people are beginning to celebrate their birthdays there with meat cakes.

Yep. Those are cakes made out of meat.

I’ve mentioned before that we used to make ground beef cakes for our dogs on their birthday when I was growing up. But this is full on carnivore cake for adults.

 

Yummy Bday at Yakiniku

These cake-shaped servings of layered meats are a trend being enjoyed in yakiniku restaurants where diners can grill their own meats.

The cakes help celebrate a birthday and can be shaped to look like a gift with sparkler, flower, or bow decorations.

In an approach that might remind North Americans of fondue restaurants, the diners are encouraged to select pieces of the raw meat and and grill them at the table. Of course, you then have to take a picture and post it on Instagram to really be part of the trend.

The Daily Meal predicts this phenomenon will take off shortly here in yakinuku restaurants or Korean barbecues. Yakinuku restaurants, by the way, serve diners bite-sized meats and offal to grill at their own table.

Amy Sedaris has also popularized meat cakes. The promotion for her new series, At Home with Amy Sedaris, features a four-tiered deli meat cake with meat-molded mushrooms. But she’s apparently been into this kind of cake for years (judging by a photo in a 2008 blog I found when searching “Amy Sedaris” + “meat cake” — not something I ever anticipated googling).

My Cake Hierarchy

Having worked with someone who didn’t eat sugar and ordered a paleo cake for the office, I will admit I was uninformed enough to worry she was going to be sharing a meat cake. This was a person who made beef jerky in the office oven after all. Happily, though, paleo just meant no wheat…but the cake could still be frosted and was just as tasty as my choice of cake.

So, I’m going to go first with traditional cakes as I’ve featured in #yummybday. Then, some of the alternatives I’ve blogged about, or I could settle for a paleo cake. But the meat cake is going to be number 4 on my list. Now, if there were a pasta cake…that would be something I would be willing to try.

Pooch Parties — Woof Woof Good.

Animals & birthdays….who can pass up the cuteness? Not me. I am back with another birthday animal blog, because I love them!

This one is inspired by a fun canine birthday party an Illinois TV station covered. Comfort dogs Payton and Eli were turning four earlier this year, so Pawprint Ministries celebrated with a birthday party for several of the pooches it has out in action in six cities offering love and support.

dog birthday

The India Times picked up a story about police officers in Beijing, China, celebrating their service dog’s birthdays with dog-friendly cake.

dog birthday

Dog Birthdays Online

Social media is a great source of animal birthday party fun, too.

How about this hilarious video with Morrisville, Pennsylvania pet owners singing “Happy Birthday” to their contented pooch who pants contentedly and then eats a cookie without getting up from his chair all while his buddy dog has a real issue with his hat.

I also found about Le Doggy Café, in Montreal Quebec, which invites pet owners to celebrate their pup’s birthday with four-legged pals. Check out the tongue-licking, tail-wagging fun in this one

If you think these folks are in the minority, you’d be wrong. The Daily Mail reported on a dog food company’s survey findings that 75% of pet owners celebrate their furry friends’ birthdays. Some 58% also sing the “Happy Birthday” song.

dog birthday

The only drawback is that many people make their dog’s cakes out of dog food — that means the humans can’t share a piece!

Answering Birthday Call to Duty

birthday party RSVP

There is little that makes me sadder than stories of a child having no one attend his or her birthday. I’ve written before about the need to be considerate and RSVP to party invitations. In today’s example, the parents were still hoping for the best even though they hadn’t heard back from anyone. But, even after they prepared pizza and cake for the friends they expected to show up regardless of their rude inability to say “yes” or “no,” no one turned up for their 8-year-old’s big day!

Apparently this wasn’t even the first time — the same thing happened on the child’s sixth birthday!

So, the mom went on social media to ask for people to join her son’s party:

“I think I’m posting this out of utter emotional distress … but I need to ask if anyone wants to come to an 8 yr old boys birthday party to show him that he’s loved and valued as a person…NO gifts are required other than the gift of friendship.”

When she didn’t get any responses immediately, she went to the local police station and asked if an officer might attend. Her son has always wanted to join the force. And that’s where this story takes its turn for the better.

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Members of both the police and fire department showed up to fete Graham. Cruisers lined the street of his neigbourhood. Plus, others who had seen the social media also showed up to share their best wishes.

The Mom was tearful in describing her gratitude to the Dallas News: “Something like this, it literally guts you as a parent because you can’t fix it, at least in that moment…But the Hurst Police Department and the Hurst Fire Department, they went above and beyond and made his day.”

There are so many ways in which you can make someone’s day on their birthday. I hope this glimmer of kindness inspires you!

Birthday Extravagance or Frugality?

There are two sides of every coin — even a birthday one. In going through birthday themed news articles recently, I noticed one emphasizing frugality and another explaining birthday excess.

Since Carlie Faulk’s column for USA today is called Frugal Family, we can’t be surprised her message is to “make birthdays special, not expensive.”

She encourages a focus on experiences, noting “after years of planning in-depth activities for birthday parties, I finally realized that my kids were perfectly happy with free time to play with their friends. They didn’t need a lot of fancy, expensive activities to have fun….Give them a few resources, such as water balloons, basketballs, footballs or even chalk. Then step back and watch their imaginations work.”

Birthday Party Pressure

But what if you kid imagines a lavish birthday party? No wonder 58 percent of parents say cost is their primary worry in the run-up to a child’s growing a year older.

“Parents feel pressured to not only impress their children but other parents too,” parenting expert Juanita Cleare said about the statistical findings.

Yet two Moms interviewed in Scotland about throwing parties for kids said they want to be extravagant to celebrate their children.

Dundee Mom Nichola Queen treats her trio of little ones to birthday parties with clowns, face painters, and or bouncy castle because she didn’t get to have her own parties.

“My birthday is three days from my older sister’s. I never had a party when I was younger and I hated the feeling, and I didn’t want my kids to have that,” she told the Daily Record. “So I spend that little bit more giving them something I never had.”

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Lisa Soyusinmez, a mom near Glasgown, even gives her kids’ bedrooms a makeover to match her party theme. They’ve done Sleeping Beauty and Superheroes and spent as much as $1000 USD for the events.

Lisa has lost her own parents and brother and said she wants to go all out to let her children know they are her world. “I really go crazy in a good way. In the month building up to the birthday, I get them excited and make them feel special – because they are special.”

Seven Parties a Year?

For another perspective on the parent overseeing a birthday consider the plight of a mother of seven children. Four celebrate a birthday in the same three-week period, and two even on the same day (but they are not twins, there are 12 years between them). Her big challenge has been trying to do something different for each one. She noted, “Irrespective of the fact that they have enough siblings for a ready-made birthday party already, each child still looks forward to celebrating their respective birthdays with friends and classmates.”

Honestly, planning seven distinct children’s birthday parties a year would probably be the end of my love of bdays.

6 Tips to Control Birthday Party Costs

birthdays on a budgetPhoto credit: Kid’s Birthday Parties via Foter.com/ CC BY

Birthdays are often an excuse for extravagance. Celebrities might spend $5,000 on a cake or buying an $187,000 playhouse for their six-year-old. Or maybe you know families that hire a yacht for their 10-year-old’s party or host 50 kids at Disneyland for the day — 50!

Yet there are those of us who want to try and keep the birthday spending on a tight budget. After all, it’s the thought that counts, right? Plus, paying off credit card debt or keeping up with the mortgage payments is probably more important than a big, blowout bash for a nine-year-old.

Pop that Birthday Budget Balloon

Here, then, are six strategies to help you keep birthday party costs under control:

Accept Assistance.

No, there is no federal assistance program for party planners. But, you likely have friends and family who would be willing to help:

  • Instead of paying $70 to a bakery, ask a friend to contribute a freshly baked cake.
  • Ask grandma and grandpa to suggest some old school games that will save you from paying for a roving arcade truck or a big bouncy house out back. Kids like to play, after all. Maybe offering them some options they haven’t encountered before will win points for novelty while also giving family members a chance to prove they’re still pretty awesome.
  • Invite young cousins and neighborhood friends to be crafty and draw or paint decorations for the party. It will look homemade, sure, but the birthday honoree will also feel the love of their family and friends whenever they look about them.

Party Outdoors.

If you’re looking at a warm weather birthday, you might host a movie night on screen in a backyard, a field day at a neighborhood park, or an obstacle course in the cul de sac (having warned the neighbors first). These options are more affordable and again will encourage creativity that can make your party distinct.

budget birthday

Photo credit: ND Strupler via Foter.com / CC BY

Think Strategically about Timing.

Planning a party over lunch or dinner might suggest you will be offering a meal. Inviting folks between 2 and 5 saves you from this expectation — snacks will likely do the trick.
If you are going to serve food, keep the menu simple and find a friend who can let you borrow their membership to a bulk store such as Costco or Sam’s Club.

Price Package Deals.

If celebrating the big day is happening at a party venue, shop around to see who offers the best deal. Sometimes a party sticker price seems more expensive than a competitor. But compare it line by line to see what’s included in each offer.

Plan Ahead.

By keeping an eye on sales you can often find party items at reduced costs. This is a good way to keep control of party decoration costs, paper supplies and plastic cutlery, and anything that goes in the loot bags (if you decide your guests can’t go without swag).

Go Digital.

Spending money on paper invitations and envelopes, plus postage (if necessary) is an unnecessary expense for the budget conscious. It’s easy to set up an electronic invitation online at a site such as Evite or Punchbowl.

Budget Birthdays Special Too

Of course, the easiest way to cut party costs is to cut out the party. But, if that simply isn’t going to fly with the birthday boy or girl you are feting, take another take and keep the guest list small.

Yes, I believe I everyone deserves a big day on their birthday — but that doesn’t mean anyone should have to break the bank to make it happen.

Birthday Cake Gets Family Kicked off Plane

 

In unhappy birthday news, there was predictable social media outrage last month over the news of a couple being kicked off a flight for behavior surrounding their cake. Apparently JetBlue bumped the family en route to Las Vegas to celebrate a 40th from their flight because the proper storage of the birthday cake they were bringing along with them caused a ruckus.

Cameron and Minta Burke of New Jersey were traveling to Sin City to join up with family to celebrate Minta’s 40th. According to news reports, they brought a buttercream cake from a NYC bakery along too.

Only, where to put this birthday yumminess proved a big deal on board the flight. One flight attendant apparently asked them “nicely” to move the cake from one overboard bin to a second one. So Cameron did. Then, he was asked to move the cake underneath the seat in front of him. He did so.

But, then a second flight attendant got involved, and things got more difficult. Cameron told the news that he approached the flight attendants and “said everything was fine,” and was told, “this does not involve you.” When he was told he was being “non-complaint” he apparently asked one attendant if she’d been drinking, “because her behavior was not normal.” He probably regrets that question in retrospect.

Family Birthday Fun?

The video the family shared of the incident, shows them being interviewed by Port Authority police. Oh, and the couple’s children are there, one of them crying throughout all of this.

The icing on the cake, though? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one). Minta is wearing an “It’s My Birthday” tiara throughout.

Now, as big of a fan of birthdays as I am, I don’t believe your special day justifies bad behavior. JetBlue counters this family’s complaints with a statement that the family was agitated and making false accusations about the crew.

Still, it’s difficult not to agree (from outside of the situation) with Cameron’s words on the video: “For a cake? A cake? I moved the cake. It’s a birthday cake.”

This particular birthday cake caused this family to be kicked off the flight, their flight refunded, and their trip rebooked while the rest of the flight had to go through the boarding process again.

That’s a big deal for a birthday cake. Reading it was a regular buttercream cake (which is my least favorite), I offer the following suggestion to those traveling for a birthday surprise in the future — settle for local. Mina’s chosen West Village bakery may be a big deal in NYC, judging by its website, but in Vegas it seems safe there is another bakery available to make the cake. Or just have the specialty cake when you’re back home!