Monday, February 10, 2014

You Can't Have Your Cake and A Petting Zoo Too: Why I Say No to Huge Birthday Parties

I am going back in my mind to a simpler time. A time, not so long ago when a birthday party meant cake, ice cream and presents. Maybe a little "Pin the Tail on the Donkey", "Musical Chairs" or a Pinata if a parent felt adventurous. Every once in a while you would get invited to an extra-special party at the bowling alley, or at McDonald's where all the kids would argue about who gets the piece of cake with the Ronald McDonald sugar figurine on it.  Those were the days... just a bunch of party guests running around, playing, getting filled with sugar and going home. At least that's how I remember it growing up. So, what has happened that made me feel like the worst mother in the world because I was not throwing my child the "Disney-themed-party-of-the-year?" I blame Pinterest! 

Somewhere along the line, I put these expectations on myself to throw my children these huge, themed birthday parties complete with bounce house, hand-made party favors, pony rides, and a designer cake. While I have never gone that  big before, I have tried my hand at cute, coordinated, extra-special, themed parties. I tried. I never met my own expectations and I became completely stressed out. Parties like these are great. If party planning is your passion and you have the time and resources to pull something like that off, then more power to you! Keep doing what you are doing, because my kids love going to your parties! But if you are like me and have neither the time nor the resources in your budget to pull something like that off, then don't. Don't put so much pressure on yourself that you can't even have a happy day with the birthday child because you are so stressed, and don't go into debt at the Party Supply store when all that is really necessary is that your child feels loved and special.
Keep it simple! Those are three of my favorite words. Birthdays in this house start off with chocolate chip muffins for breakfast. The birthday child gets a candle in theirs. We sing, of course. That evening, the birthday boy or girl gets to pick what's for dinner and then we usually have ice cream sundaes for dessert. We sing again. We will also have a small party on the weekend for extended family and maybe a friend or two. Every once in a while I will do a spaghetti dinner for a birthday party, but usually it's just a few simple snacks, followed by cake (yep, more singing), ice cream and presents. We will hang a few streamers up and sometimes get a few balloons, but that's it. Simple. And do you know what? My kids have just as much fun at their simple parties as they did when I tried to have a big, fancy, themed one. In fact, in my case, they were probably happier because Mom wasn't so stressed out! So the way I see it, whether you go big or small, you accomplish the same goal: A child who feels special, surrounded by those who love him on his special day.

How do you celebrate your children's birthdays? Do you go big or keep it simple?


  1. We just celebrated my sons birthday last night... We always let them pick their favorite meal for supper followed by their favorite dessert and a birthday gift. That is it... plain and simple:) I agree we as a society have super sized this aspect of our lives. I like keeping it simple!

  2. Love this perspective. (glad you liked the piñatas) ;)