Tween Birthday Idea: Day of Surprises

Natalie's 12th birthday this past summer had the potential to be rather miserable. Not only were most of her friends busy on her birthday (the curse of July birthdays), which forced us to reschdule her sleepover party, but the day itself was rainy and unseasonably cold. Forget swimming and grilling. With steady showers and a high of 55 degrees, the day felt better suited for hibernation than celebration.

Thankfully, Corey and I saw the trainwreck coming a few days beforehand and instituted "Operation: Birthday of Many Surprises." We started brainstorming: What small things could we do for Natalie on her birthday to ensure she felt loved and not forgotten? Hencewith, on the day of her birthday, we:

1. Surprised her with breakfast out at her favorite breakfast place, The Good Earth. Bonus points: It just happened to be the perfect morning for a steaming mug of Good Earth tea.

2. Surprised her by taking her to the mall immediately afterwards and letting her get her ears pierced. She'd been asking to do this for several months; her dad wasn't sure the time was right. So for him to relent on her 12th birthday and help her pick out her studs was huge.

3. Surprised her by arranging her one friend who wasn't busy that day to come over and play for a few hours.

4. Surprised her with dinner at her favorite teppanyaki restaurant.

5. Surprised her by taking the whole family to a late-night showing of Monsters U after dinner, complete with popcorn, soda and candy.

Taken individually, none of those things is a Big Freakin' Deal (except for the late-night movie; we've never done that before). But having them all happen on her birthday transformed a dreary day into a delight.

And once again, we were reminded it's not about the amount of money you spend or the largeness of an event: birthdays are best when they communicate the message, "You are special! We love you! Let's celebrate you!" I have to think a day of surprises would be a huge gift to any tween.

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