Guest Blog: A Very Merry Un-Birthday!

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We all know there are some years when you want to go ALL OUT for your kid’s birthday party, but then there are other years when you want to pull in the reigns and do something simple.

That’s why when Rebecca emailed me to tell me about her “un-birthday party” idea for her two-year-old I thought it would make for a great guest post!   It’s such a cute idea and I love that the focus was on the most important thing – what would be the most special way to celebrate for her child.

A Very Merry Birthday “Un-Party” for Gannon

My name is Rebecca and I’d like to share with you the amazing Birthday “Un-party” I recently planned to celebrate my son’s second birthday.

I’ve had my share of extravagant birthday parties.

You name the theme and I’ve done it. Winter Wonderland, Western, Blue’s Clues, Princess, Baseball, My Little Pony…the list goes on and on.

These weren’t little back yard parties either. I counted 37 children at my daughter’s puppy party this past December.

Don’t get me wrong. The party was amazing and the boys and girls had a blast, but at the end of the day, I was broke, exhausted and couldn’t remember spending five solid minutes with my daughter on the day we came together to celebrate this amazing blessing, the day of her birth.

As February came along, I realized I was already beginning to plan my son’s birthday party for mid-April. I was overwhelmed before I even started and considered scaling things back but was having guilt about depriving my little boy of his birthday spoils.

Then it hit me. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be! I stopped planning, took a breath, and asked myself a very important question: What would Gannon’s perfect day look like?

The answer was simple: Trains, cupcakes, animals and grandparents.

So I made it happen. Two days before his birthday, I booked eight tickets on the Amtrak for myself, my husband, our daughter and both sets of grandparents. I consulted with my mom – a retired Kindergarten teacher of 30 years – and found out about Zoomar’s petting zoo located near the train depot in San Juan Capistrano.

Two hours before his party I stopped by the bakery and picked up some gourmet cupcakes and we were done! No pricey invitations. No deposits on locations. No expensive decorations. No piles of gifts he doesn’t need. No goody bags. It felt so liberating!

The day was perfect. We left the Santa Ana Amtrak station around 3 p.m. just after his nap and indulged in cupcakes and snacks on the 30 minute train ride to San Juan Capistrano.

We took the short walk to Zoomar’s and I relaxed and let my children lead the way. It was all about them! They rode horses and visited with the beautifully kept guinea pigs, chickens, bunnies and goats. Gannon even rode the little train with Papa twice and learned how to gobble at the giant turkey and snort like a pig.

We ate dinner together in downtown San Juan and rode the train home just in time to get the little ones to bed. It was an amazing day filled with beautiful quality family time that I will never forget.

I’m so glad I made the decision to avoid another mega party and can’t recommend enough to other moms and dads this concept of a birthday “un-party”. As I’m writing this I just realized another benefit. I only have to write four thank you notes!

Rebecca is a part-time preschool gymnastics coach at CheerForce Orange County, freelance web designer, and most importantly, mother of two beautiful children, Payton, 7, and Gannon, 2.

Thanks Rebecca for sharing!  I love the idea of doing guest posts to share ideas on how you celebrated your child’s birthday because I looooovvveeeee party ideas!  If you have a party you would like me to feature (extravagant, simple or somewhere in between) please send me an email to jennifer {at}


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  1. 1
    JennyH says:

    Awesome idea, love this!!

  2. 2
    Paige says:

    This is exactly why I\’m also not planning a party for my 2 year old next month! This is a great idea!

  3. 3
    Jackie says:

    I was thinking of doing this for my daughters 2nd birthday in August expecially since I will have a newborn two weeks prior or closer. Any great suggestions for dinner in San Juan?

  4. 4
    Tricia says:

    I also had a merry un-birthday this weekend. I Pre-ordered a small ice cream cake from cold stone had them decorated with a number 2. Headed over to Disneyland total of 6 people 9-4 my son had a blast! It was all about him we got on the zoo train 4 times!! We all headed back home had him open his gifts , ate some ice cream cake. Took lots of picture of course. He was in bed by 8 😉 It was perfect

  5. 5
    Jen says:

    Yes! There is a Ruby’s Diner right up the street from Zoomar’s. Perfect place to take a 2 year old! It’s on Camino Capistrano.

  6. 6
    Cathyb says:

    Lovely! Thanks for sharing.

  7. 7

    We love Zoomars! And even if you did want to do a party, they make it soooo easy for you! Great post and great ideas. This is exactly how we plan to do next years birthdays! Three years of “First” birthday was enough to kill me!

  8. 8
    Nicole says:

    We had a merry un-birthday for my son’s 4th birthday at Boomers. It was immediate family only (mom, dad, sister). On Tuesdays at Boomers they have unlimited rides and arcade games for $22. We were there shortly after they opened and stayed until 9 PM. What wonderful memories we made!

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