In just three short weeks, my baby boy will celebrate his third birthday. Party planning is well under way but I’ve been struggling to think of a great gift idea for him. Part of me almost wasn’t going to plan a birthday party in the first place because the thought of a house small condo full of three year olds did not appeal to me. Neither did paying a couple hundred bucks to rent a facility. That was until Liam so sweetly requested a cowboy birthday party and I was hit with a brilliant idea.
Instead of throwing a big birthday party, with decorations, food, activities, etc and then buying him more toys, I decided to turn his party into the gift. I will be taking him and two or three friends to a local ranch for a pony rides. The experience includes helping groom the horses and prepare the tack before going for their ride. He will invite a couple of his ‘very best’ friends along for the morning and we will celebrate with cupcakes and pizza. I know my horse loving boy is going to have a blast.
Experiences always leave lasting memories where toys are almost always forgotten. I couldn’t tell you what gifts I received for my sixth birthday but I will never forget the excitement of our family dog giving birthday to a litter of puppies the day of my birthday party. Or the year my parents sponsored a baby gorilla and orangutan in my name. Or the year I received concert tickets to see Gwen Stefani, my childhood idol.
Seeing Liam’s reaction when we get to share experiences together trumps watching him open new toys that he will only toss aside after the gift opening excitement dies down. Watching him this past weekend at the Bubble Guppies live show, with wonder in his eyes, is something I will likely never forget. As much as the experiences are for him, I know they are just as big for me too.
Instead of buying Liam toys this year for his birthday, I want to focus on the experience he will get to be a part of. I hope that as he grows up, he can learn to value new experiences rather than always wanting more ‘stuff’ that doesn’t serve us and clutters our lives.