Hi guys. I know it’s been a few weeks. The hectic summer life has gotten the best of us lately. Anyway, I’m here to touch on why my family has opted for mini vacations over birthday parties the last few years. First, let me start by saying this hasn’t always been the case. When I was a first time mom seven and a half years ago, I was super excited to throw my daughter birthday parties. Now, I was never the “pinterest mom” with all the goody bags and extravagant themes. These were just your run of the mill family/friends parties. That being said, when we gather up all the siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, cousins, etc. the run of the mill party becomes expensive! So we got to thinking about that. Was the stress of prepping the house, buying all the food, etc worth the cost? And the answer? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. So over the last five or so years, and three more children later, we started taking overnight vacations as a family. We primarily take those trips to Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, NC. It’s about an hour and half away (about the same distance for us as Carowinds) and the average room rate varies from $200-400 a night. I know, if you’re anything like me, you’re thinking, “That’s expensive for one night!” and let me tell you, it sort of is. But with a family my size, you can’t beat the all inclusiveness that is Great Wolf Lodge. There is something to do in the water park for all the age ranges of my children. Greg tends to go do water slides with the older kids while I hang out in the kiddie or tide pools. It is a great time for all. You can check in at Great Wolf around 4 pm, but have access to the water park as early as 1 pm. So we spend the first day hanging out at the water park, and typically ordering pizza from the in house pizza restaurant. Maybe visit story time, but that is hit or miss based on my children’s attitudes and if anyone is afraid of characters. Then, the second day is spent either leaving for drive thru breakfast or the in house Dunkin Donuts for munchkins, followed by more time at the water park. Now I know there are people who stay for several days, but typically this one over night is plenty of time for our family. We’ve also day tripped to Carowinds for birthdays as well. Spending the day at the park, and then coming home to relax. We don’t do overnights for every birthday and every year, but it is something we enjoy doing. We also enjoy parties from time to time. When we do opt for parties, they are laid back events where everyone just shows up, the kids run around and we have cake. But like I said, the cost is close to the same when you factor in the cost of snacks, drinks, cake and alcohol(because every kid party should have alcohol! ha.) It’s just nice to shake it up from birthday to birthday and sometimes to just spend forced family time together which is more difficult to do these days with Greg’s busy work schedule. I also tend to try to live a more minimalist lifestyle, and think memories over things is so worth it. So, I offer this advice: If you have the opportunity to try an over night mini vacation for a birthday instead of stressing yourself out over a party, I say go for it! The memories you make will last you a life time!