Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What I Think About: Big Birthdays

If you read my post yesterday, you know that I've very recently threw my daughter a Taylor Swift birthday party.

Every year I prepare for birthday parties I get the distinct feeling that my husband thinks I'm going overboard.  Maybe he's right.

When I was a kid we got one party (and I use "party" here loosely), not a family party and a friend party.  One party.

The party mostly consisted of the birthday boy or girl picking the dinner meal (hello macaroni and cheese with hot dog chunks!) and cake and ice cream.  The kids might have run around and played hide-n-seek or kick the can but there were no organized games or crafts.

We invited family friends and their kids so there were generally four or five kids, aside from immediate family members (for some reason my folks always made me invite my sister.  {Sigh}).

I never got to invite my whole class.
I never had my birthday at a venue (like a skating rink, bounce house, swimming pool, or laser tag field).
I never had a designer or store bought cake.
I never gave "parting gifts" to guests.

I always had a good time!

Nowadays birthday parties are major events.  They are held at venues that cost hundreds of dollars.  They involve detailed games and crafts.  They include upwards of twenty kids.  They have expensive store-bought cakes, over-priced character plates and napkins, parting gifts, and helium balloons for all attendees

Sometimes birthday parties come in the plural sense.  For instance, our children have at least two parties (one for family and one for friends--presents at BOTH).

I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with these kinds of parties, per se, but I do wonder if parents are going a bit overboard?  Does a child really need his closest twenty friends at a party?  Would the child feel any less special at a home party instead of one held at the local ice skating rink?  Would the kids have less fun if they just had to "play" rather than line dance and make a craft?  Would feelings really be hurt if attendees left without a bag of junk goodies?

One side of me hates the idea of giving up elaborate party planning (in fact, I'm trying to convince my nephew to have a SPY party because man-oh-man do I have some ideas ...) but the other part of me misses the simplicity of celebrating in the home with family and a few friends.

What I think about big birthday is that they are totally fun ... but totally unnecessary.  I'm considering an every-other-year idea.  Elaborate party on even year birthdays; simply parties on odd years.  That's a good compromise, right?

Your thoughts?  How do you do birthdays at your house?

Thank you to Shell at Things I Can't Say for supporting my random thoughts.


  1. We've had different kinds of parties for our boys- depending on where we were living and who their friends were.

    Some small at home and others out somewhere and inviting their whole class.

    I think it's just personal choice. I do love the idea of one day that is just for them and being able to do what they'd like for it(within reason, of course).

  2. Oh the birthday party dilemma. I've thrown my fair share of "over the top" parties and small gatherings with family and close friends. If it wasn't for the expense of throwing those big parties, I probably would continue.

    I've decided to throw them on milestone birthdays. Like when my son turns 5 next year. Then when my daughter turns 10, then the same for him. and then 13, 16 and so forth. I'll need to start saving for those big birthdays anyways, they'll probably cost a fortune.

    Whatever works for your family and children.

  3. I really do think it is up to each parent's comfort factor. If you LOVE to throw a party, and your child LOVES to have all their friends around, and you can afford to throw a big party - then go for it! We do tend to have 2 birthday parties - one for family, one for friends... But we are going to have to at some point rethink this... because 2 out of 3 of my kids have December birthdays and December is crazy for everyone! :)

  4. We have one party. We don't have family nearby and don't have enough friends here locally to turn it into much more, honestly. My niece, back in NY, has two. My SIL's family is huge and so that's how they roll. ;) I see the benefits of them both, but for us it's small. Depending on the locale, that makes it either smaller or slightly bigger. We'll see what happens this coming Feb for her big "5"!

  5. I was just talking to Khale the other day about how I'm not sure what the best approach to birthdays is for us. Neither one of us will ever throw a giant birthday party for our kids but sometimes I think it's fun to go visit a venue and other times it's better to just do a smaller home party. I'm just going to see what sort of thing the birthday kid is wanting to do each year. Although, I am already starting to try and steer a certain little kid away from having a Justin Bieber birthday party...ahem.


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