“Where thou art, that is home.” —Emily Dickinson

A child can feel at home anywhere, especially if she is loved, accepted and treated well. And particularly when it’s a birthday, no matter where the party is held and friends are surrounding, you’ll see a glow of happiness on a child’s face.

Last week we had a party in our home. It’s what I’d call a “good ol’ fashioned” birthday party. Fourteen girls came to help celebrate my daughter’s 11th birthday. We played games for 2 ½ hours and enjoyed our homemade “Cold Stone” ice cream bar. A lot of laughter, silliness, competition, and genuine caring for one another transpired.

Some of our favorite games to play at birthday parties are:

Clothespins in the Jar
Cottonballs on the Shower Cap
Count the Candies in the Jar
Freeze Dance
People Bingo
Pictionary (w/white board)
Tasting Game
Whipped Cream Pies

Many of these games I played as a kid growing up.

It does take time and energy to organize such a party, but the cost involved is so little, and the payoff huge. The kids really enjoyed the home environment with such simple fun.

Last year my theme birthday dessert for my kids’ parties was the “ice cream trough.” This year I tried to think of something a little out of the box, yet inexpensive.

The night before the party, Abby was in charge of chopping up her own toppings, and setting them up in a Cold Stone fashion. Cold Stone is an ice cream chain where the clerks mix up your ice cream flavor with toppings as you watch. With Halloween candy in the stores, Abby had a huge variety for the girls to choose from.

Cold Stone was generous enough to sell us their cones in a dish (fifty cents), we softened our own tubs of ice cream in large bowls, and we mixed up the treats on a cold stone.

What were we missing? Hoppi and I singing behind the counter! (Cold Stone tradition when you go into their stores).

At the end of the day we had a very happy little girl. Abby saw the effort I put into planning this party, and I also pointed out the importance of keeping costs down. She is learning the value of home celebrations and that keeping things simple is advantageous.

But more importantly, she is learning that being connected to her friends and being loved in return is really the gift she is looking for. And I saw this as she genuinely hugged each girl after opening each gift.

Elaborate and expensive can be exciting, but sometimes good ol’ fashioned fun is all we need.

I’d love to hear some of your fun, simple birthday ideas!