Roundtable Discussion – Kids’ Birthday Parties

17 Sep

Is it just me, or have kids’ birthday parties gotten out of hand?  Sometimes I think the parents must be trying to one-up each other with the biggest, coolest, and most expensive party.  Who are we throwing it for, anyway – the kids or the parents?  What about inviting everyone from your child’s class?  And don’t even get me started about goody bags – who started those??

Two years ago, we had a huge (and expensive) party for my son’s 3rd birthday.  It was at a jumping place, we invited every kid we knew (including all the kids from his class) and all of our families, fed all the kids and adults, and had gifts for all the kids who attended.  It was a chaotic nightmare, in which I never even got to have a conversation with anyone!  So last year, we deliberately scaled back.  We had a party at our house for only his closest friends.  We put up our kids’ train set and had PB&Js and cupcakes, and it was GREAT.  It was fun for the kids and not stressful at all.  It was just perfect.

What are your thoughts about kids’ birthday parties these days?  Too much?  Are you feeling the pressure?  Maybe you have some ideas for keeping things reasonable while still giving your kids a memorable day.  We want to hear from you!


6 Responses to “Roundtable Discussion – Kids’ Birthday Parties”

  1. Rita MIller September 17, 2010 at 9:54 pm #

    I have not done anything big for my daughter’s birthday party. We always do something at my mom or mother in law’s house with mostly family. Then again, my children are still very young.

    One thing that I very much remember was my 7th birthday party. I was allowed 5 girls or so, and had a breakfast party. Unlike a slumber party, we awoke my friends in their beds and brought them to my house for a breakfast and a sweet roll cake. The guest list was limited to folks I felt close enough to wake up. I don’t know where mom got the idea, but it was the best party ever.

  2. Jen September 18, 2010 at 1:59 am #

    Rita, what a great example of using a little ingenuity (instead of money) to create a lasting memory!

    That is such a fun and original idea – I’m sure others will love to read about it and maybe use it themselves!

  3. Lori September 18, 2010 at 2:19 am #

    I agree that children’s parties today have gotten a bit out of hand. I think it’s difficult though, like you said, Jen when you have a school age child. You might either invite everyone, or no one, and is that fair to your child, not to, say, have their best friend at their party, if that child attends their school. I am fortunate that my oldest child’s birthday is in the summer. I therefore didn’t feel a huge need to invite the entire class. People who have parties at home are brave though too! The thought of cleaning up afterwards is what usually steers me towards wanting to have it somewhere else. I would rather pay money NOT to have to clean up a huge mess! This year, we planned a really fun birthday for my daughter at Velociti Fitness. It’s relatively inexpensive for a “venue” party. It was $100.00 to have the party in the gym, then $30.00 per instructor per every 8 children you invite. The kids got a great workout and had fun running an obstacle course, playing games, running relay races, and then calming down with yoga & a book, before having food & cake. I am definitely looking forward to the days of my daughter inviting just a few friends to have a slumber party or movie night at our house. But, with that, I know comes the day when her heart breaks when she finds out she wasn’t invited to someone else’s party!

  4. Lisa Martin September 18, 2010 at 7:09 pm #

    Well, the dust is just settling on Chip’s 5th Birthday bash, which we held at our home this year. I think this was the best party yet because all 10 of the kids seemed to truly have a blast. I started to worry last night, when Chip had a rare meltdown over where I was hanging the decorations. (I am a design dictator…I’m flexible with food, music, wardrobe but I draw the line at how my house looks! Birthdays included!!) MId-meltdown, I worried that I’d revved him up too much for the party, that I shouldn’t have made such a big deal about it in the last 10 days or so. But he woke up ready for the fun! His 14-year-old sister, Paige, who has autism, didn’t mingle much. She’s sleeping off a cold and a ZPack. But that also meant that the noise from the kids didn’t bother her.

    I know Chip would love a Chuck E. Cheese’s birthday party one of these days, but there’s something so nice about having our friends and family in our home. For me, that feels like a true celebration!

  5. Lisa Martin September 19, 2010 at 4:06 pm #

    Another thought: When Paige turned 9, we had a huge party for her, inviting everyone in her class. (The “skills” classes as the district calls those for special-needs kids, only have about eight kids in them.) But still, it was a big group. We decorated and bought a ton of food and had a bounce house out back. She enjoyed the bounce house, but about halfway through the party, I went looking for her and noticed she’d crawled under her bed! In retrospect, I know that party was more about me than her. I wanted the big, sprawling celebration and the photos to go with it.

    The next year, Chuck and I took Paige to the Galleria, where we spent an hour riding the escalators, which she loved. That was the best birthday celebration she’s had!

    • RIchelle September 22, 2010 at 2:17 am #

      Lisa, I love the escalator birthday celebration! That’s definitely a great lesson for keeping in mind what’s fun for the birthday girl/boy rather than succumbing to the peer pressure that parents face.

      As a kid, I had plenty of birthdays at the skating rink (don’t scoff–they were quite popular back in the day) and Chuck E. Cheese (of course, it was Showbiz Pizza back then), but my favorite birthday party was for my 13th and it was at our house. There were maybe 6 or 7 girls and we were all dressed in makeshift 50’s attire consisting of bobby socks, ponytails and poodle skirts. We danced like fools in the living room to Elvis and Chuck Berry and chowed down on Domino’s pizza and homemade birthday cake. Simple idea, minimal cost and ridiculous, memorable fun.

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