Jan
12

Birthday party madness

Posted in Mom Stuff
by Alicia Castelli

I find myself in the midst of a conundrum lately. Birthday parties for kids.
When I was young, I got a birthday party with friends when I was 8 and again when I turned 16. They were at home with a limited number of friends and that was it.
Having a big to-do for a child’s first birthday seems to be par for the course and we did that with all three of our own children –complete with smash cake.
What I struggle with are the frequent invitations to very young children’s birthday parties.
The rule is everyone in the classroom gets an invitation or the invitations don’t get passed out at school. That way, no one’s feelings got hurt.
This wasn’t the case when I was young.
If my feelings were hurt because I didn’t get invited to someone’s birthday party, that was too bad. Life wasn’t always pleasant and I had to learn to deal with that.
Problem number one is that most “party places” charge by the head, usually eight or ten children. There are very few classrooms that small so you either invite the whole class and pay quite a bit more, or you find addresses and mail invitations.
Thank goodness for student directories. We mailed the invitations to our 10-year-old’s party which we held at our home. Pizza and a movie. They had a blast.
Problem number two with these parties is I have no intention of paying $250 or more to have a birthday party for my children, yet they go to these expensive outlets and come home wanting the same thing.
My kids are getting a lesson in “life’s not always fair” at a very young age because I refuse to spend that kind of money on a party for a 4-year-old. If I was going to spend that much money, I’d rather spend it on gifts or taking the family out for a birthday dinner.
Problem number three is we are limited in how many of these parties each child can attend in a year because of the cost of gifts.
How to choose which parties to attend?
My daughter’s entire preschool class was invited to a birthday party the first week of school. She didn’t even know the child in question.
How deep are the friendships among 4-year-olds and 6-year-olds? How can I tell the difference between a real developing friendship and my child just wanting to go to the party because everyone else is going?
My daughter was invited to two parties in January alone. (A little tip – find a toy on sale and buy several for your child to give for multiple party invites.)
When did these elaborate parties held at special venues become the norm?
I tend to make decisions about these parties on a case-by-case basis and continue to keep my kids’ parties family affairs until they are at least 8 years old.
I would like to know how other parents deal with the ever-growing industry of children’s birthday parties.

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