“‘They gave it me,’ Humpty Dumpty continued thoughtfully, as he crossed one knee over the other and clasped his hands round it, ‘they gave it me–for an un-birthday present.’
‘I beg your pardon?’ Alice said with a puzzled air.
‘I’m not offended,’ said Humpty Dumpty.
‘I mean, what IS an un-birthday present?’
‘A present given when it isn’t your birthday, of course.'”
-“Through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll
Recently, when I was trying to brainstorm some ideas about articles on birthday parties, it occurred to me that in general, most birthday party planning tactics had already been covered in articles around the web. So, I thought, what if I were to go in some other direction- like for instance, un-birthdays.
What is an un-birthday, you ask? Well, it’s one of the 364 days a year that aren’t your birthday of course. Everyone has them, but few celebrate them. The concept, of course, comes from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, more popularly highlighted in Disney’s animated feature Alice in Wonderland. It’s a concept that could be adapted to allow children to become interested in a piece of classic literature in an interactive fashion, as well as (for smaller children) learn about how Birthday parties are organized- by planning one for each other.
Birthdays come but once a year, and outside of Christmas or Halloween, it’s hard for kids to find an excuse to have a party in the summer months if most people they know have birthdays in the fall or winter. I grew up having a birthday at the end of October, so naturally my birthday parties as a child were always Halloween or autumn themes, as opposed to being able to have a pool party or a BBQ. Anybody that’s ever had a birthday right near a holiday, or during the winter probably knows that your options can be severely limited. So have a party anyway, just for the heck of it.
So one theme that could be novel is an ‘un-birthday party’. Have a birthday party, but with no particular person in mind (or to celebrate someone’s birthday at a different time of year). Include all of the typical makings of a birthday party- cake, hats, decorations, and treat bags- but have the kids draw names out of a hat and exchange ‘un-birthday presents’ and cards.
Since the birthday party wouldn’t be focused on anyone in particular, it could be a great opportunity for a class or group of kids to collaborate on what they want at the birthday party. Every child can contribute something, and be creative about it.
Here are a few possible suggestions:
In advance, have the children collaborate on what sort of decorations/birthday party theme they want- make sure that each child has a say, and contributes some creative suggestion to the birthday party planning. This could be a valuable exercise in collaboration, especially if they’ve never planned anything together before.
Have cupcakes instead of a regular cake. Even better, have the children make the cupcakes themselves, and decorate them. Put a birthday candle on each one.
Teach the kids how to do birthday party related things like making balloon animals. Maybe bring in a professional clown or someone who is experienced enough to teach them something small and easy.
Have each child bring one type item to put in the treat bags. This can include anything from toy jewelry, to whistles to candy, as long as there’s enough for everyone to have one in their bag.
The bottom line is to be creative- it’s fun to do something a little bit different once in a while, and the more you can laugh while planning a birthday party, the better. Endorse an attitude of general silliness. Hell, I think I might even try this, and I’m an adult!