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A Birthday Book Swap & Kiwi Favor Fun!

Yes, I fully realize that as I sit here & share this, I still have not finished everett’s first birthday images. Poor, sweet second child. I’ll share soon enough, but my first baby just turned FOUR! (sad!!) & we wanted to do a little something different for her this year. :)

My husband and I have decided that as we raise our children we want to make their holidays and birthdays about experiences, not stuff. Kids have enough stuff and birthdays, to us, don’t mean the accumulation of more junk. What do kids really NEED anyway? I have one answer to that question: BOOKS and FUN. Well, babies and blocks and trucks and crayons too, but mostly, BOOKS. & some fun as a family. At least in our household. So what we decided to do for caroline’s fourth birthday is to each give her some precious one on one time (in the form of a new experience) with each of us AND change it up at her birthday celebration.

My little bookworm started to read last spring, so we are constantly encouraging her love of learning through flipping pages. So how best to share our love of reading with our friends and nix the birthday junk? Enter The Birthday Book Swap! In lieu of gifts, we decided to ask each of our little party guests bring their very favorite book, wrapped. We asked for one for each child attending the party, so no one was left out. I bought a couple of our favorites to add to the swap and after cupcakes we confused all the kids royally, by handing them a gift. :) Each child opened a brand new book to take home and so did we! There were a couple of last minute adjustments (as a couple of kids got books they already had, so we swapped those out, WHEW for extras!) but overall, I’d say it was pretty successful! I went home with a couple of great new books and NO JUNK. Win Win! Cloudette (by one of my favorite illustrators) is a new fave. :)

On my continuing quest to ban the junk, we opted for these AMAZING Kiwi Crate Party Favors to send home with our guests. Again, gifting an experience! I had no idea these were part of what Kiwi Crate had to offer–but when they offered to send me some wings I jumped–because we adore all things Kiwi. & I kid you not, by the end of the day nearly every single guest of mine sent me a picture of their kids in the wings that they made together. They were a MAJOR hit. Totally better than a bag of junk.

I took my sweet girl to her first yoga class–so so fun. We do yoga together almost every day, but this was her first studio experience. She was smitten! We had a blast. I hope we can do this together for many, many years to come! :) Lisa teaches a great kids class at San Antonio Yoga Center, for you locals!

For her real birthday, my sweet girl requested a trip to the Children’s Museum and a sweet treat at her faaaaaavorite place, Bird Bakery. I surprised her with a special mini cake in her favorite color. We LOVE Bird! It’s the cutest place in San Antonio. It’s a good thing I don’t live closer. ;)

Those baby blues take the cake…

Ah, so much fun. Now hopefully I can share some of the fun BOY details from everett’s first birthday soon…seven months later. HA! :)

Hope you are having a great back-to-school week!

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  • Jenn - You are so right in this. I’ve asked for years that people not bring gifts to our children’s parties and instead make a small donation to the children’s hospital where my son was treated, and they STILL bring gifts! I realize it’s very sweetly intended, but it’s not the message we want to send. Glad to know we aren’t alone here :)ReplyCancel

  • Marie - i love this idea! thank you for sharing. totally going to do it for my kid’s birthday! =)ReplyCancel

  • Jessica - So sweet! I love the idea of the book exchange. When I first read about you gifting an “experience,” I told my husband and we’re totally doing the same thing this year. Thanks for sharing :)ReplyCancel

  • nicole - Such good ideas all around! Love it. I NEED to do this kiwi crate deal! love the goodies!ReplyCancel

  • lindsay - what a lovely idea! i’m trying so hard to be intentional these days and i love looking to your blog for inspiration to what family should be about. i love the direction you are going these days, but i do have to admit i miss see your dreamy IG feed and frequent blog posts ;) however, i understand why. can’t wait to see e’s birthday post. would love to see how you party for all things boy :)ReplyCancel

  • Kirsten - Shawna, I totally agree with you! And I wanted to share with you some other fun giving back ideas that I’ve recently encountered. A couple families I know set up a donation to help orphans in Africa instead of presents. And another family has set up a link to donate money to a little girl who is currently going through treatment for kidney cancer. I love seeing these different ways to teach our kids that life isn’t about stuff or ourselves. It’s about giving back and loving on others.ReplyCancel

  • Emilee - I love the book swap idea. I haven’t had a birthday party with friends for my daughter yet because so far she doesn’t like a lot of attention focused on her. But if she ever wants one, I’m going with the book swap idea. So much better than worrying about her getting presents that I don’t want her to have. And making a birthday more about fun and giving than just getting stuff.ReplyCancel

  • Lyndsey - Love love love the book swap!! Cloudette is such a sweet book!! what an awesome post!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - Sorry if this has already been asked before, but do you have yoga DVD recommendations to do with toddlers? My little girl is only 15 months old – when did you start with Caroline?

    Thanks!
    And love the party pictures!ReplyCancel

  • Ann - I love everything about your blog. LOVE it. I’m not a mother right now but have been reading your blog for over a year., You offer such great ideas, advice and honesty that I can’t help coming back and reading more from your archive. Thank you for all that you do! You are an amazing woman. :)ReplyCancel

  • Courtney Reeves - Hi Shawna! I absolutely love your blog and all of the beautiful pictures you post! I was just wondering if you could share some of your favorite book titles. I feel like my son, Jameson and I are in a book-rut. He will be 18 months in two days, so he and E are very close in age. Any recommendations would be great!
    I also love the birthday book swap, such a great idea!ReplyCancel

    • -shawna- - The DK books that start with “my first” are huge faves! As are the slider DK books & brown bear, brown bear. & any truck book! :)ReplyCancel

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