Birthday Party Alternatives for Military Kids

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash.

Depending on when you PCS, birthday parties can be hard for military kids. There’s nothing like showing up in a new town, not knowing anyone and wondering who to invite to a birthday party. We can invite everyone in the class or invite no one at all. Both choices seem less than ideal. 

When my oldest girls were younger, I came up with an alternative. I gave them the option of having a birthday party or taking a getaway trip with mom. They opted for the getaway.

Taking an alternative birthday trip often costs the same as throwing a big party and it offers several advantages:

1. No drama.

Birthday parties are notorious for drama, especially for girls. Whether it’s feeling bad about who didn’t attend or that drama queen who stirs up trouble, birthday parties can be challenging. If I had a dime for the number of times my kids ended up in tears either at their party or leading up to it, well, I’d have a lot of dimes. Birthday parties often lend themselves to kids having really high expectations. While that may not be a big deal for some children, others will find themselves overwhelmed and subsequently disappointed. Let’s face it, birthday parties can lead to unnecessary drama for kids and parents. 

NYC Birthday Trip

2. Memories that last.

I’m a big believer that the family who plays together, stays together. And recent research confirms that money spent on

experiences leads to more lasting happiness than spending money on material purchases.

One thing that really bothered me about traditional birthday parties is that even though they were fun while they lasted, my kids rarely seemed to remember them or the gifts they received. If I asked my kids about their birthday party last year, they would come up short on details. Perhaps I’d get lucky and they’d remember the cake, but that’s about it.

We’ve been doing getaway trips for about 7 years now, and my girls still talk about the places we’ve been. I’m banking on the fact that these experiences will mean more than any material purchases they might have received.

3. Time spent together.

Every parent of multiple children can relate to the fact that it’s very challenging to sneak in individual time with our kids. A birthday trip is a great way to steal some time away with your child and let them know they are special, unique, and loved. Over the years, I found that the key to a super fun getaway party was to pick a location your child will love. One year we took a train to Chicago and went to the American Girl Store. When my daughter turned 13, we traveled to New York City to see a show on Broadway because she loves music and theater.

Birthday Getaway

Since I’m not a big fan of throwing birthday parties and dealing with lots of hyped up kids anyway, I love taking my kids on a relaxing trip where we can just hang out and spend some quality time together. It’s a win for all of us. Honestly, just a hotel with a pool in your own city would make a great getaway location.

Maybe you are one of those moms who loves throwing birthday parties. I think that’s fantastic and would never want anyone to think that throwing a birthday party is not a good idea. But if birthday parties overwhelm you and your kids or if you just arrived at a new assignment, it might be the perfect time to try something new. 

What started as a plan B for a year when my oldest didn’t have any great friends, turned into a tradition that we’ve held onto for many years. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate their birthday, and I can’t wait to see where we go next. 

It doesn’t have to be anything fabulous. Kids spell love T-I-M-E.