Am I the only one who finds that children birthday parties are getting out of hand? Some may give wedding parties and wedding planning a run for their money. Depending on your disposable income, I get why you would want to celebrate the key milestones of your precious little ones with as much fanfare as possible. But if you do, don’t expect the same from others who attend your party – so manage that expectation.
As for those who are on the fence line, please remember that for younger kids, birthday parties are redundant. They want to spend time with you rather than having you fuss on the party itself and care what other people think. Often time parents are putting together parties to ensure social acceptance rather than to celebrate kids. IF you want to do that don’t use your kids as pawns and please do that though other gatherings like a neighbourhood cocktail party or something. Birthdays are for kids and not the adults (although adults are usually the ones who experience anxiety over them, over exaggerating their importance.
For slightly older kids, well they’ll probably want a party but it’s mainly to invite two or three of their close friends – not the whole class. Often times parents put that added pressure on kids to invite everyone for fear of offending. But it’s your kid’s choice – would you invite all your colleagues to attend yours? When you do, you are entitled to obligate them for those few keepsake photo poses as embarrassing as it is for them they will thank you for capturing the moment when they are older. But other than that keep it as low key as they prefer it to be.
If your kid however what’s the fanfare – make sure you do so with reason. Kids who enjoy the attention will ask you for the moon, so be careful that you over deliver and under promise on their special day to avoid disappointing them. You should manage expectations well in advance. I have told my son that a party is doable every other year, and a cake every year. The party will be a maximum of 2-3 school friend and the rest will be whatever family we can scrap together for the “gathering”. You also don’t want to impose on others to have to get a gift, but it’s a balance between not imposing on family and by not inviting you’re saying they are not part of the celebration. Instead – I would make it an early breakfast, don’t mention the birthday and if they bring a gift that’s fine – otherwise avoid putting them in a situation where everyone brings a gift except for them (out of ignorance not spite).
Themed birthdays are fun, but much like Halloween try to keep handmade costumes and decorations to a maximum and minimize the artificial mass produced stuff – although that is probably easier said than done (just watch that wallet, and in most cases dollar store substitutes (knock-offs) will do nicely).
Let’s hope that past the sweet sixteen birthday they expectations will be ….a bit more reasonable. Then again, with everyone out there one-upping the other on birthdays and parties – its looks like birthdays will soon be as elaborate as weddings. The problem is unlike weddings, they’re every year!