Birthday Bash…2008!

My daughter turns seven…in SIX months, yet thanks to the birthday party circuit we’ve been on lately, it’s all she can talk about. Where will her party be? Who will come? What activity will we do? What will be the theme? We’ve been fortunate to escape the big birthday bash for the previous six celebrations. We’ve either had small, at home parties with a homemade cake and a few friends, or we’ve taken a trip to the beach, or New York (which I will admit, was totally over the top but more fun than a day at Pump it Up!).

I find myself wanting to be one of those “opt out” moms when it comes to kid’s birthday parties. I want to keep it simple, at home, with close friends and family. No need for $12 goodie bags and entertainment that costs more than my car payment. No need to herd 25 kids into an inflatable playspace and feed them overpriced pizza. Why rent out part of a museum for the day when you could just enjoy Betty Crocker at home and make a sweet craft as a take home gift?

Somehow, this year, the big party seems inescapable. My daughter now has a nice collection of friends from preschool, kindergarten and first grade, and church. I can’t imagine having them all here, with questionable weather in March, inside our home, jumping off the furniture and wiping icing on the sofas. And I don’t want to say you can only pick 3 friends to have over, because that can lead to hurt feelings and makes me feel like a total cheap-skate. Where’s the middle ground that feels fair, appropriate and fun?

I did come across this fun list of activites on Kiwi that are all eco, healthy or socially responsible. But how do you convince your seven year old who has given away cool gifts to all her buddies that this year, mommy thought it would be a great idea to collect animal toys and food for the local SPCA instead of getting gifts for your birthday?

When did birthday parties get so big? And, even when you’re not trying to compete, how do you keep your kids from feeling like losers when their own big day arrives? Share your ideas…and do it quick! I only have six months to plan this party, and the clock is ticking!!

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6 Responses to Birthday Bash…2008!

  1. Mom of Three says:

    I’m with you sister…birthdays are out of control!!! I tried to scale back one year by not providing the silly goody bag filled with cavity producing candy and trashy toys that just get pitched, but I found out later that one child cried because he didn’t get anything! He got a day at an indoor playground. He got Pizza. He got cake and icecream. Doesn’t that count? Anyway, I felt horrible. Won’t do that again.
    I wanted to share with you my favorite birthday party we hosted. My daughter turned 6 in February. We rented a room at the local Embassy Suites, invited 4 of her favorite buddies and had a slumber party! The girls swam in their big, heated pool. They loved the hot tub. We ordered pizzas delivered to the room, brought in a cake and then we rented a movie and watched tv in our pjs. I lucked up because Kohls had robes on clearance for $2. Each girl was presented with a beutiful wrapped box with a snuggly robe. In the morning we did a devotional on friendship, had breakfast in our matching robes at their complimentary buffet. It was great and really not too bad of a price tag when you consider how much fun it was!

    Whatever you end up doing, just enjoy it. The kids grow up so fast. Just savor every minute with them.

  2. Jennifer says:

    OK. Put on your seatbelt. This is a huge soapbox issue for me. JUST SAY NO!! I repeat, JUST SAY NO!! We are killing our kids’ perspective with this party thing (among the myriad other ways we give in to this noxious air of entitlement our children inhale every day). My 6 year old went to a party last week IN A LIMOSINE! I don’t mean she rode to the party in the limo, I mean the PARTY itself was in the limo. 8 6-year-olds rode around town in a limo watching the birthday girl opening her gifts, listening to the High School Musical soundtrack (and I could do a whole other post on that, too), stopping for ice cream, and getting dropped off at home in the limo. Freaking unbelievable. I would actually have to put Embassy Suites with personal bathrobe favors right there in the same category, regardless of the pricetag. WHAT IS THE MESSAGE HERE?

    Every-other-year parties work for us. I have to give my parents props for this plan – they did it with me and my sibs, and it made our parties that much more special while also cementing that family-time is special idea. I now see my girls valuing their “friend” parties with much greater perspective as a result, too. On odd birthdays, we celebrate with family, cake & gifts. On even years, we have a party for no more than 10 guests (including my 2 kids), and I have NEVER done a bag of crap, I mean goodie bag. We do a nice, normal party – we’ve painted pottery, had a luau one year, a dress-up tea party another, took a couple friends to the zoo once. Caroline’s 7th will be at Build-A-Bear in a couple weeks. I don’t feel guilty spending a little bit of money since they are biannual, but the point is, they are kid parties doing kid activities with kid themes. We’ve been to a couple “socially reponsible” parties (book exchanges where everyone except a few bring crappy books no one wants, Humane Society tours where everyone ends up crying about euthanizing animals, etc.), but in our experience, these haven’t gone over super well with younger kids. They just want to have fun. And you know what, they really GET the whole thing, too, if you just give them some credit. My girls thought the limo was dumb (“even tho we WERE ridin’ in style, Mom!”) I asked them once – “Which child is better-prepared for being a grown-up in the real world – the one whose parents give them everything they ask for, or the one whose parents say no some?” They gave the right answer without any prompting. It’s too bad so many of us are rearing this wisdom right out of our children.
    Sorry if I stepped on any toes – I’m the meanest Mom I know, but you know what – I’ve got some damn extraordinary kids to show for it.

  3. Hi,
    We have always kept the parties low-key. Some years my daughter has not wanted to have a party. And some years we have been traveling, so that is her memory (turned 7 in Jamaica, 14 in Costa Rica) But far and away the big at-home favorite is to have a bonfire, with s’mores and music and stuff to throw in the fire to watch it burn. Everybody loves to poke a fire and hang around and drink cider, especially when it is cold out. Tell everybody to bring at least one joke they can tell, there are always ghost stories, and charades by firelight is the best!

  4. perr1ker5h says:

    Tell me how you really feel, Jen! I’m right there with you on the over the top aspect of b’days for SIX year olds. We’ve actually never been to anything so insane (we’re on the east coast and it takes us a while to catch up…by 10 I’m sure we’ll be cruising Franklin St. in a limo, too). I’m not trying to compete–really, I’m not. And you’ll never find me contributing to the bottom line of Oriental Trading company by filling plastic bags with made-in-China crap that parents will be tossing in 4-6 days. I’m all about the at home b’day and a few friends–I think you originally shared the every other year idea with me when kiddo’s were babies and we’ve really followed that (say thanks to your mom for me for that great idea). But this year would be a friend year and I’m just trying to figure out how to handle the ever growing list of names my daughter spouts off as “best friends” these days. And do you feel obligated to reciprocate–if you’re invited to someone’s party, do you have to invite them back? I can easily identify the kids I would invite, but I’m not walking the halls of elementary school every day and hangin’ on the monkey bars with my child during recess. How do you set a limit that won’t hurt feelings. Share your wisdom…I so appreciate it. Loved your video, too.

  5. Jennifer says:

    I’ll call you.

    I’m a monster.

  6. Pingback: Birthday problem solved « Enough is Enough

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