More and more parents are throwing children’s birthdays at a jumpy house place or a kids’ gym or a public park miles away from their homes. Families often have Thanksgiving or Christmas celebrations at restaurants.
What’s wrong with our homes? Our yards? Our neighborhoods?
Does it matter that we’re passing the most significant moments of our lives at places to which we have no emotional connection?
I believe it does. Big time.
Every time you hold an event at your home, you leave some memories there. You might add a physical artifact like a framed photograph or a wreath. Because you hold frequent events there, you’re always adding things or changing things to make it a better place to entertain.
In addition, memorable things happen at specific places in and around your home. You might have a memorable conversation with an uncle or aunt on the glider in the back yard. Or the kids might play a particularly fun game of hide-and-seek among the bushes in your front yard. You take photographs that capture these moments.
Of course, it’s entirely possible for you to do all these things at other venues, but then these venues would be mere settings, mere backdrops. If you hold these events at your home, or in your yard or neighborhood, these memories accumulate over time to form a rich tapestry. Your home becomes one of the characters in the theater of your life.
In the two years since moving into our house in Menlo Park, my wife and I have made a commitment to refocusing our lives on our home, our yard, and our neighborhood. I can honestly say we’ve had the best kid birthday parties here that I’ve ever attended. Ever. We’ve also had a dozen or so big dinner parties here that have all been fabulous. Every time, it just gets better.
Because we have many of these events in our front and back yards, neighbors who haven’t even been invited drop by, making our experience even richer. My Jewish M.D. neighbor and his kids have gotten to know my Chinese uncles-in-law a bit. Other neighbor kids have gotten to know my nieces and nephews from Pittsburgh.
Why are fewer and fewer people holding the significant events of their lives at their homes and yards? Many parents don’t feel that their homes and yards are designed and furnished adequately for these events. Besides, holding an event at one of these event venues—party places, restaurants, etc.—is a lot easier because you don’t need to spend any time setting up before or cleaning up afterward.
If you’re someone who feels this way, I hope you’ll decide to invest the time and money into making your home and yard into a great venue for events. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, but it does take a fair amount of planning and forethought, at least the first time you do it.
Trust me, it’s well worth it, especially for your children.
Mike Lanza is Founder and Chief Play Officer of Playborhood.com.