my family

Why We Stopped Throwing Huge Birthday Parties for our Kids

Why We Stopped Throwing Huge Birthday Parties for Our Kids

It took our family 6 years and 3 children to figure out that throwing huge birthday parties for kids was not working for us. We struggled to make the events special each time and the more we tried, the more stressful it became. We finally switched the way we think when it comes to celebrating our kids and here’s why.

Why We Stopped THrowing Huge Birthday Parties for our Kids

We Have Too Many Kids

Seriously though,  we’re going to have 4 kids! All 4 of them have different birthday months.  July,  March,  January,  and (probably) September.  That’s just our immediate family’s kids! Add in cousin’s birthdays (4 Decembers,  1 November, another July, February, and June) and holidays, too.

Finn, our third kiddo, has an early January birthday, right after Christmas, and right after 4 of our niece’s and nephew’s December birthdays. While planning his first birthday party, it hit me that everyone needed a break in their schedules! We were running out of actual time to schedule without conflicting with another event! It was beginning to feel like we were always planning the next big party. Something had to give.

It’s Expensive

Booking a venue became too expensive.  In our area, it’s hard to find a place big enough for just our local family for under $100! Most places I could find with built in entertainment (bowling, sports parties, play places, etc.) got closer to $300, and that didn’t even include food for the guests.

Multiply that by 4. No, don’t.  It’ll make your budget cry.

Why We Stopped Throwing Huge Birthday Parties for our Kids

Trying to save money, we tried hosting in our home,  but with friends and family,  we simply ran out of space.  We live in Ohio,  which means the backyard (or parks) can only be used if it’s not 90 degrees,  raining, or snowing.  That almost never happens here, haha! At least not often enough to rely on. So everyone tries to cram inside, and it gets pretty packed!

Our Friends and Family Have Grown

When we first started out,  our family hadn’t grown to the size it is now.  Our oldest was the first grandchild on my side and the second on my husband’s.  Back then we could get the families together often and it was no big deal, easy even! We now have 7 nieces and nephews in addition to our (soon to be) 4 kids. Our family has grown and we are blessed to have such a large family in close proximity.

Why We Stopped Throwing Huge Birthday Parties for our Kids

We are also blessed to have so many close friends, our friends have lots of kids, too. You get the picture. We have run out of room, unless we want to book an expensive facility. When we were still throwing large parties, we felt awful to not include a family on the invite list when other families were invited. Picking and choosing from our friends caused stress and anxiety.

Reduce Stress and THINGS

When we finally decided to quit throwing huge birthday parties for our kids, the stress of it all cut back dramatically. It was like a breath of fresh air. Having to juggle all of the invite lists and the cost of feeding and hosting everyone was weighing on us, not letting us really enjoy our kid’s celebrations. We could take a step back and relax, and I really think the kids felt that.

Why We Stopped Throwing Huge Birthday Parties for our Kids

One thing I really didn’t think about until it happened was the reduction of things. I try to keep our home from being overrun with toys. We often give toys away that don’t get played with and we rotate as much as we can. When we had large birthday parties, our kids would receive way too many toys, too much stuff. Some things would barely get played with before the kids moved on to other things and we’d end up giving it away barely used. I felt terrible that our friends and family had spent the time and money to purchase these gifts, only to barely be touched.

In an attempt to reduce all of the toys, we tried to say “no gifts please” on the invite, but people tend to not listen. We love that our friends and family are so giving, but we didn’t like watching our kids discard thoughtful items just because there were so many of them.

Should You Throw Huge Birthday Parties for Your Kids?

Don’t get me wrong. Our way of thinking isn’t for everyone. There are some really great reasons that people love to throw huge parties, it’s literally ALL OVER Pinterest!

  • If you love hosting parties, go for it! If the thought of hosting and feeding a big group of people gets you excited, there is no reason to fight that. Enjoy it, celebrate big!
  • If your budget allows it. Maybe you don’t have a big family? Maybe you do but your budget still allows you to throw a big shindig for them all. GO for it!
  • Maybe you don’t have family close by? By all means, invite every friend you can to celebrate your kiddos. Even though we don’t throw big parties anymore, that doesn’t mean we don’t love celebrating our friend’s kids! Every family is different in what works for them. Do what works for your family.

Why We Stopped Throwing Huge Birthday Parties for our Kids

How We Celebrate Now

After we re-evaluated our parties, we didn’t cut out celebrating all together. We dramatically reduced the budget and size using these 2 guidelines.

1. Only Family. We still have a get together for each child. We invite family only. We pick a day and time and stress to the family that if they can’t make it, no big deal. My husband’s brother lives a few hours away, and we understand they can’t make it to every event. Letting our family know it’s a low key event relieves the stress on our end, and we hope it relieves the pressure of attending every event on their end, too.

Grandma still makes cupcakes. The birthday boy or girl gets to open a few presents. Cousins play and the family gets together to eat. It’s still special and fun, but on a much smaller scale.

Why We Stopped Throwing Huge Birthday Parties for our Kids

2. Special Kid’s Pick. We sat the big kids down and explained to them that we would no longer be doing huge birthday parties, but that we would celebrate in other ways.

We let them pick an activity to do with our immediate family, or with a friend or two.

So far, our daughter picked a spend the night with one friend and our son picked glow in the dark putt-putt with our immediate family. They both felt celebrated and excited that they had a say in how they got to celebrate. Eli, our oldest, always requests balloons hanging from his door in the morning of his birthday, it’s a little thing that helps him feel special and we’re happy to oblige those requests!

I’d love to hear from you, how does your family celebrate birthdays?

Friday 5

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Friday 5 | Make the Most of it Blog

Friday 5: Things We’re Thankful for this Week.

Each Friday, I want to take the time to really reflect on what we are thankful for as a family, called the Friday 5.

I hope to list 5 things that I am thankful for every week. It might be products that we loved and that really helped our family in some way, or it might be personal or family accomplishments that I just want to shout out and thank God for His help! Hopefully encouraging you along the way with helpful tips, products, and inspiration.

FIRST: My Kids

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder for a reason. I have to admit, I was feeling run down, tired, overworked and snippy with 3 kids and one on the way. Summer is no joke and our family dynamic has changed so dramatically in the last two years (we welcomed another dog, moved to a new house, had a baby 5 days later, and Olive started school!) that we’ve all been sort of trying to keep our heads above water. But the instant 2 out of 3 kids went to different camps at the same time, my head forgot all about the bickering and fighting and loud noises. I miss them dearly and I can’t wait for our family to be all under the same roof again.

New blog post is up! ♡link in bio♡ another Friday 5! I’d love to hear what you’re thankful for this week!

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Our family is a single income family. Keith is an amazing provider and I am so thankful for all of the hard work he puts in to take care of us financially. One thing that I believe honors his hard work is making sure to budget that money as best as we can. I struggled with this until I found a budgeting program called You Need A Budget (YNAB). When I first signed up for YNAB we were deep in debt and had no clue how to manage the day to day finances. The free classes offered when you sign up turned everything around and helped me get a handle on our money. As our family has grown, I have been even more thankful for this program and the progress we’ve been able to make on managing our money, helping us to pay off the debt (woooo!) and stretch our budget as far as it can with it’s zero based budgeting system. Seriously, life changing stuff here.

If you’d like to try it out, I have a referral {click the picture}. I’ll get a month for free and so will you if you sign up!


*If you do try it out, I can not stress enough to take advantage of the free classes they offer. These were so so so helpful!

THREE: Asher is still head down!

Week 34 check up was this week (the last of the bi-weekly check-ups!) and Ash is still head down. I am praying he really wants to stay that way, we’ve never had a problem with the last three, but every baby is different! I will continue to be thankful for this until D-day! He is still measuring a week ahead, which makes me a bit nervous. Olive, my 9 pounder, had shoulder dystocia when I delivered her, so the thought of having another big baby sorta scares me a bit. But I know I am in good hands and when Ash is ready, we’ll be able to make an informed decision.

FOUR: Carbonated Water

Anyone else obsessed with La Croix Sparkling Water? I love it and it is helping me stay hydrated this summer! I have also found that I love the Aldi version. Both are refreshing and bubbly and help me drink more when I’m not in the mood for straight up plain water.

FIVE: My Working Refridgerator

Ever been strolling through Instagram and someone posts something that makes you turn into a toddler, (I waaaaaaant it!!!). That totally happened to me this week with a refrigerator. She posted a beautiful picture of her fridge that fit a million times more things than my current side by side does, and I got super jealous.

You see, when we first got out of debt, in our old house, the first thing we bought without credit was a beautiful, huge, bottom freezer, fridge. Our old one had died, and we worked really hard to save up the money to buy that fridge. We lived out of a plug in cooler for months, until we had saved the money.

Plug In Cooler Fridge | Friday 5 | Make the Most of it

Picture evidence of our plug in cooler. Which just happens to be right next to our thankful tree that we do as a family each November. And, yes, that is someone’s artwork on the pantry door under the tree.

So we saved the money and got a brand new, beautiful, fully functional bottom freezer fridge that fit an insane amount of food. Then we moved. And left that fridge.

We now have a side by side. It’s pretty on the outside, it goes well in our kitchen with the other appliances, which is why the flippers put it in, I’m sure. But it’s small for a family of 5 (soon to be 6) and it makes weird noises ALL THE TIME…and the ice maker stinks.

You know what’s nice about it, though? It works. It keeps the food cool and makes it so we don’t have to live out of a plug in cooler.

Seeing someone else’s cool stuff can make you forget where you’ve been and how far you’ve come. I forgot that we have been in a position that we didn’t even have a fridge and we managed. Having a fridge, even if it’s not the one I would pick, is still a blessing and something to be thankful for.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says: Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

That’s my Friday 5! What are you thankful for?

How to Make a Family Command Center

How to Make a Family Command Center

How to Make a Family Command Center

When we moved into our house about a year and a half ago, I knew the first thing I wanted to do was figure out how to make a family command center that worked for our family. The 2 older kids were starting school, participating in sports, and making new friends to schedule playdates with each day. All of our scheduled plans and obligations were beginning to pile up, and it became clear that we needed something the whole family could use to stay up to date on where we needed to go.

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I knew we needed 3 things in our family command center:

1: A large calendar.

2. A to do/done bin for papers.

3. A Clock and Decor.

Step One: A Calender

You know what they say; Go big or go home. We went big for our calendar. I did not want a dinky little thing that no one could read or write on. I wanted lots of room for info and for it to be clean and simple.

How to Make a Family Command Center

I knew you could print large scale prints at Staples for insanely cheap, so I started there to see how big I could go. At Staples, you can print Engineering Prints for dirt cheap! I decided on the 24″ x 36″ size for the wall we would use and I went with gray scale, too. I picked it up in-store all for under $4.00! So inexpensive!

Amazon is always my go-to to find what I need, keeping the cost down for that size frame was a priority. There were so many to choose from, I picked a black frame and plexiglass cover to help keep the cost down. If you can spring for a glass front, that would work even better! I find the plexiglass to bend just a bit too much while writing. It works, but glass would be a bit smoother. {Something like this is similar to what I purchased}


Once I knew the size I wanted, I created my print. I used Adobe Illustrator for mine and made it big enough that it prints clearly on 24″ x 36″ paper. Click on the picture below to download! You can save the file to your computer and upload it directly to Staples for a large scale print!

Family Calendar Preview

Once you’ve picked up your print and tested it out in your frame, you’re good to go! I write directly onto the plexiglass with these markers. Sometimes, I stick with black, but I’ll switch up the colors occasionally, depending on my mood, and the month. They don’t smudge like dry erase. You have to use a wet cloth to wipe them off, but I like that better!

You’re ready to hang your calendar!

My Super Secret Calendar Hanging Trick

This is a large scale frame that I tend to take on and off the wall a lot. I wanted it to be level all the time and be as secure as possible for writing directly onto it. These picture hangers make everything so much easier! They are called French pleats in the woodworking world. I used a large metal one similar to these, and I love it! It makes taking it on and off the wall simple, and I don’t have to worry about it being level every month when I update it.


With school in full swing, I knew I needed a to-do bin and a done bin in the family command center. I wanted them to be hanging on the wall to get them up off of the desk space below. This bin is something I found at Target, but you can find similar bins just about anywhere!

How to Make a Family Command Center

I used inexpensive clipboards I found at Dollar Tree to keep things together so I can easily pull them out. It’s worked really well so far. We keep our filing in the basement, so the done bin is often more overflowing than the to-do. School papers and documents are always stacking up and I wanted to make sure they weren’t on the desk. Now, they are up off the desk and I love that!


Nothing is more frustrating to me than to get my times mixed up when planning family events. I do it often and every time I kick myself. For the decor, I knew I wanted something around the calendar and to-do bin to help it feel more like a gallery wall. The first thing I wanted to include was a clock. Clocks are pretty and functional. There are so many styles you can choose from to create the look you’re going for in your own family command center.

I liked the wood look of this one to offset the metal going on with the bins. Again, I found this one on Amazon (they have everything!) Here is a similar one: Foxtop 12 inch Silent Non-Ticking Wall Clock Vintage Wood-Grain Plastic Quartz Wall Clock Mute Quiet Sweep Country Style (Dark-Brown)

How to Make a Family Command Center

For the rest of the decor. I wanted to fill in with things that encourage myself and my family. The small canvas was actually done by a friend from church. She’s so talented and just happened to have a few of these pre-made. I love the hymn “It Is Well with My Soul” and the colors worked perfectly! It’s hard to tell in the picture, but she used gold paint for the letters which look fantastic with the metal bins. Having these words right next to our calendar help me to remember in the chaos that He’s there in it all. No matter what we have planned for the day or month, or how crazy I feel trying to keep up, He is constant.

Last, I made a few arrows using scrap wood we had lying around. When I made them, I was inspired by my 3 kiddo’s distinct personalities. Each arrow is different and represents them in their own way. I’ll have to add a 4th one after Asher comes! I hung them all together using twine, I love the way they turned out.


Now you can complete your family command center! I started with the biggest item, the calendar, and made sure the bins were reachable for ease of use. Functionality came first and I went from there. Then, I played around with the spacing and placement, but with the size of the wall and the large scale pieces, I didn’t have a whole lot of wiggle room. I love how it turned out!

I’d love to hear from you! What’s does your family include in a command center?

How to Make a family command center

Friday 5

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 Favorite Fridays (july21)

Friday 5: Things We’re Thankful for this Week.

Each Friday, I want to take the time to really reflect on what we are thankful for as a family. I hope to list 5 things that I am thankful for this week. It might be products that we loved and that really helped our family in some way, or it might be personal or family accomplishments that I am

I hope to list 5 things that I am thankful for every week. It might be products that we loved and that really helped our family in some way, or it might be personal or family accomplishments that I just want to shout out and thank God for His help! Hopefully encouraging you along the way with helpful tips, products, and inspiration.


It’s so hot and muggy here in central Ohio this week! We made a pool trip, but I only have the energy to do a little at a time trying to keep up with Finn in the water at the same time as watching the big kids.

It’s been a stick-inside-as-much-as-possible kinda week. The A.C. feels amazing! Even getting the mail has made my pregnant, tired, self, hot and sweaty.

How we all feel after our walk in 90° heat with 1000% humidity. 🌡☉🔥

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Also a special shout out to LEGOS, books and craft supplies for keeping the kids busy inside!


I could write a whole post on this.  Keith is such an amazing father and husband.

Typically,  he always makes sure to ask me where I need help with the kids and the house,  but even more so as we come to the end of this pregnancy.

He is always willing to help me get the rest I need and without him, the house would be in complete disarray.

All of this on top of working full time and being an amazing provider for the family.

I’m so thankful to know that when Asher arrives,  he’ll be there with bells on to help keep the family moving.  He is my biggest blessing ❤


We’re in full on toddler mode around here.

The big kids wanted to help with making some yummy energy bites for dinner yesterday (energy bites and smoothies are a regular summer dinner around here).  I knew Finn wasn’t ready to join in the way the big kids do,  so I set him up with his own bowl,  spoon,  and some plain dry oatmeal.

He had so much fun but made a huge mess. Oatmeal was everywhere!

Cleanup took me no time at all because we were blessed with such an awesomevacuum, the Shark DuoClean Rocket Corded Ultralight Vacuum.

This thing swivels easily,  sucks up crumbs and big pieces easily,  and it’s easy to get out and put away.

My very favorite thing is that it can be stored hanging on the wall.  We don’t have a good closet to house a stand-up vacuum,  so this is the best solution for our home.


We had 2 water play birthday parties this weekend and the kids had such a fun time running through the splash pad and swimming. I’m so thankful that we live in a community that has so many fun outdoor opportunities for our kids to enjoy!


I’m a bit surprised how much I love the Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote.  One of my favorite features is the parental lock!

I set up our stick to require a pin each time they want to play an app. This means they can’t access HBO and Netflix without asking first, which is a huge relief.  And since we cut screen time, I’m already there helping them and giving them permission to use the screens so ours not an added inconvenience.

That’s my Friday 5! What are you thankful for?

Meet Jenna
Meet Jenna! Author of Make the Most of it.









I’m a mom of 3 (soon to be 4) that loves to let my creative side roar even when my time and budget can’t.

What mom doesn’t feel busy? If you’re a Stay-At-Home mom, working mom, or somewhere in between, we all feel stretched and thin. The never ending to-do list is there (and yes, sometimes that means a Netflix to-do, because you need to be able to talk to your friends about something OTHER THAN YOUR KIDS!) How are we to get it all done?

Here’s a bit of honesty for you. I don’t! Sometimes I leave the laundry in the dryer for days on end (I pray it’s the dryer and not the washer). Sometimes it takes me months to finally sit down and do a special craft my kids have been begging to do. I’m guessing you might be similar?

We are not perfect, we only have 24 hours a day to squeeze everything in, it’s not easy! But I find that if I focus on what’s right in front of me and make the most of it, I can get a lot more done. Finding joy in each moment may not check off every task on your to-do list, but it will help you show your family the love they deserve and help you feel the love you deserve. My goal is to help you get there.

My Family

I’ve been married to my husband for 8 years! We were almost high school sweethearts, but really college sweethearts. (Long story short, we went on one official date and then I broke up with him, oops! We reconnected a year into college, thank you, God!) We were married in 2008 in the same place and exactly one year after he proposed. It was beautiful, and my mom helped me plan the whole shebang with no such thing as Pinterest! We had plans that involved 2 kids and we’re so excited God had other plans!

We have 3 kids and one baking, due in September. Ages 8, 6, 1 and 0. Add on top of that a Chihuahua and a Greyhound, and our house and hands are FULL. Full to capacity and full of love. I homeschooled the older 2 through preschool and found my love of crafting and learning with my kids. They are off to school now, but I am so excited to start again with our youngest and will continue to craft until they head to school down the road.

Make the Most of it
Our 3 kiddos

We moved into our current home 5 days before our 3rd child was born. We have loved living here the last year and a half but just barely scratched the surface of making it our own. I love doing DIY projects but have a tight budget to work with, a great and fun challenge.

When I’m not chasing after toddlers, planning our next DIY or crafting with the big kids, I love to break out the brushes and brush pens to play around with hand lettering and watercolor art. It’s such a soothing way for me to create, and although it’s not perfect, it’s so much fun!

That’s me and my family in a nutshell! Nice to meet you!

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