March 07, 2015

{from the blog archive} The Celebration is More Important Than the Gift

Editor's Note: If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed that I have been sharing glimpses into preparations for creating some new birthday traditions.  I'll share those soon, but in the meantime, this post from The Petit Cadeau archive is still really meaningful to me (and hopefully to you too)

Happy Birthday cake topper by Hana at Hello Plum Studio

This post has been sitting in my brain for a while.  Waiting for the right time to share with you. The value of celebrations and traditions as part gifting has been gaining more and more importance for me lately. 

As a child, I do not remember the specific gifts I received for birthdays and holidays.  Of course, a few stand out, especially if there was something that I really wanted that year, but for the most part the material gifts did not mark the occasion. 

Do you know what moments really stand out from my childhood?  The traditions.

Special Valentine's Day cookies that were only made once a year  
Easter chocolate hunts with hand-written notes in special Easter Bunny writing (I wish I still had some of those) 
Table set in the same way each year for specific celebrations

It was special.  It was important. It was family.  

If you're feeling monumentally stressed out about trying to "do it all", just stop.  Gather a few ideas below for simple celebrations and traditions.  Pick what works best for you, or create your own tradition. 

(+) I've recently finished Gretchen Rubin's Happier at Home where she writes about her tradition of celebrating holiday breakfasts.
(+) Gabrielle Blair from Design Mom has compiled two video shorts about Birthday Traditions.  I love these, they are a must-watch!
Birthday Traditions Part 1  //  Birthday Traditions Part 2
(+) Create a yarn trail leading to little gifts
(+) Do it Yourself Birthday crowns like this, or this

Honor moments in the same way every year.  That's the perfect gift


  1. Beautiful & so true Alison, I grew up with little money and all my presents were thrifted or hand made but it was the celebration & memory making that holds the most significance for me. Being present is really the best present of all! In our home the party is the present, we spend weeks together crafting + planning + dreaming it up and the girls are part of all the lead up and work. We make the cake, set up the house (parties are almost always at home) and welcome friends together. We all love it & spend a lot of the year planning out our next celebration! Love the direction your business is taking, celebrating the simple magic we make is so needed!

  2. It's easy to get wrapped up on gifting the material things. Cheers to refocusing on what matters most- the experiences and traditions we're fostering in our families (and communities!) Thanks Alison for reminding us that we have so many meaningful gifts to give and share.

  3. This is so simply beautiful, Alison! I love the direction you are going with this and think there is a real need for more thoughts like these in our society. Looking back, I have only one or two gifts I actually remember, but what I do remember most are the moments created with the family, the silly traditions we had, and the laughter we shared. I want to provide that same experience for my children, and I love the ideas you have shared here. Thank you!