Many years ago now my DH (born in August) and I had come to the conclusion that we were missing a lot of friends' birthdays and that August would be booked solid with the cake and gifts if we tried to make even half of them. We decided to throw a collective birthday in our backyard, and to make it more sane, everyone would bring just one gift and put it in a box. The August Babies would draw out their gifts at random. We put a price limit on the gifts back then. Nowadays we just say, don't go too overboard.
Anyway, we played blind-man's-bluff, cooked over an open fire, drank too much, talked until we were hoarse, and generally had a good time. Such a good time, in fact, we had to do it again the next year. Bigger. That time, anyone could invite or bring anyone. We made it a potluck. The house got hot, we crushed a lot of lawn, and I think we had a kiddie pool full of hot water filled via a contraption hooked to the shower head and run out the bathroom window. We laughed loud and often. A good time was had by all. The gifts got crazier, too. A lamp that looked like an alien head. Ear candles. A huuuuge bra. I seem to remember a Dilbert candy dispenser. Maybe it was the following year, but an inflatable cellphone pool toy showed up, and became a perennial gift--it seems to turn up every year. And of course we had the flying things--flying pigs, flying cows, flying bat. But covet-some gifts showed up too. Handmade pottery. Art. Brand new DVDs. Bottles of premium liquor. A giant zucchini.
Okay, maybe that last one wasn't coveted.
Somewhere around #2 or #3 we started the tradition of the firepit 'bardic'. A rockin' lobster wall hanger showed up, and we passed it around like a baton. The bearer of the lobster had to tell a joke, a story, sing a song, or be doomed to press the button and rock out with the Lobster of Shame for our entertainment. When we had music available, belly dancing was also an option when a turn came up.
Each year we had more people, more food, more fun. We hit a critical mass with the booze--no matter how many people showed up we always had lots of everything left over. A keg would be a waste on us. Perfect; more money in the budget for meat that way.
We moved onto acreage and one of the first big projects was to level a large area for a firepit and procure seating to accommodate our August Babies Birthday Bash. Seating is still one of our biggest challenges. Anyway, we now have an Aussie bbq (a huge bbq is on my lottery list) in addition to the firepit for cooking, and the trees we planted are starting to cast some much-needed shade. We have a gazebo too. But sometimes it's all for naught--we've been rained in before. We set up a copper firepit in the house, filled it with water, and floated rose candles in it. The cats loved it.
We often have work parties beforehand--some have been a huge production with their own feasts and free t-shirts, others have been smaller and at the same time more intense, clearing brush and making sure the paths and stairs are mowed and safe and the firepit area is clean and free of nasty pokey plants. Some years I hand wave them and do most of the work myself.
Last year was poignant. My DH was overseas. He got up very early and called us from a war zone--everyone got a chance to say hey. The connection was horrible, but we all laughed and talked and I have to admit I got choked up. I made a movie, but sadly the data was lost. I'm hoping to reclaim the one and only DVD so that I can make copies. It'll be fun to watch again, especially the sushi races and the safety dance (not the one you're thinking of.)
All our ABBBs have been special for some reason or another. Someone turns an even decade, the full moon is up, we're early enough for the meteor shower, or it rains, etc. etc. etc. This year, after a round of frantic emails, I rescheduled my original date so that we could have one of the original August Babies back home at the time of the party. He'll probably still have a fair amount of sand in his boots when the party begins, and he'll have such stories to tell ....
And the tradition goes on, and on, and on.