With my eldest son’s 4th birthday looming in just under two weeks, the wife and I have been diligently plotting out the best way to celebrate. Of course all birthdays are special, but four seems like an important milestone, though for slightly different reasons. With three, the kid realized that it was his special day, that all these family and friends were gathered here in the Name of Cake! and Punch! and Presents! just for him. However, there was very little in the way of lead-up. He didn’t seem to recall that a similar celebration had been held just one year prior, or if he did, he didn’t quite make the connection between the two.

But we’re talking about four now. Four remembers three, and may even have a vague recollection of two, enough that a pattern is established. He understands that every year right around this time, we all get together to celebrate the awesomeness that is him. Thus, it stands to reason that whatever decisions we make about how to celebrate this particular birthday could have a lasting impact on the tone of birthdays to come. Go too far overboard and he’ll come to expect more and more grandiose gestures year after year, which will only lead to greater stress, increased expense, and eventual disappointment when we are unable to arrange a battle between a squadron of unicorns and a dragon for his 12th birthday party. Go too far underboard and he’ll end up a big anti-party lamewad. No, my friends, we are not simply talking about one birthday party here. We are talking about ALL the birthday parties. We are talking about the proper setting of expectations.

So with that in mind, I would like to share with you a list of activities that the Mrs. and I are considering for the impending festivities. Perhaps you’ll find some ideas here for celebrating the anniversary of your own offspring’s arrival, or perhaps you’ve some ideas of your own to share.