When did everything go so wrong? Get so out-of-control?
I fondly remember my birthday parties growing up. I was a summer baby so every summer (yes…every summer) my parents had my birthday party at the neighborhood swimming pool. We swam, played, and ate a simple birthday cake that my mom had baked herself. No fondant, no princess theme, no image of my face etched into the frosting.
Did I feel deprived? No.
Did the other moms compete with mine to have a bigger, better party? Nope.
Ahhh…the nostalgia of it all.
These days, the quest to throw the biggest and best birthday bash for your child is more like competing in the finals of American Ninja Warrior. And don’t think I haven’t tried to figure out how to make that theme work!
Princess parties complete with homemade beauty queen sashes, video game trucks that roll right up to your house, trampoline parks that quite literally have the kids bouncing off the walls and every other deluxe (and cost-prohibitive) activity imaginable.
I’ll admit that in my earlier parenting years, I got a bit caught up in it all.
Confession: I had a chocolate fountain catered for my daughter’s 3rd birthday. As karma would have it, I was cleaning chocolate off my walls for days and the image of toddlers dunking their dirty little hands into the gooey chocolate is burned in my memory for life.
After the fact, I realized the party was more about me impressing my new mommy friends than doing what was right for my daughter.
Now that I am older (sigh) and hopefully a bit wiser, here are a few things I have learned about birthday party planning.
- Pick a theme or activity based on your child’s interests. Some of the most fun (and inexpensive) parties have been those we planned ourselves – a soccer scrimmage at the park, PJ party and movie night, Food Network cooking competition and game night party at home.
- Make the party age appropriate – believe me when I tell you that a 1 year old could care less how much you spent!
- An expensive party does not equal a fun party. Keep it simple and affordable.
- No need to invite the entire class. It’s fine if you want to do so, but please don’t feel obligated.
- Specify if siblings are invited. Many party locations charge per child. It’s okay to only include your child’s friends. Parents should ask and offer to pay if they want to bring a sibling.
- Remember that the party should always be about your child…not you.
And if you truly love throwing extravagant parties, far be it from me to criticize. Just please let me know your Pinterest page so I can be sure to follow. Smile.
This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.