Friday, March 27, 2009

Kids Birthdays

I am not talking about my children's birthdays, but all of those around us.  This week alone I have two nephews and one niece and my own on Monday (shameless plug for my birthday, which is monday).  Luckily, they are all of the age that they just want money.  Sounds callous, but once they get over legos and princess dolls, they really just want to get what they really want, not something their Aunt picked out in a panic at Target at 11pm at night.  Just write a check, they will be happy and you will not be at Target with all the midnight shoppers.

I have thrown birthday parties and thought I did a pretty good job.  Then I went to someone else's birthday party and thought I failed miserably.  I want to know when it all became a one up-manship?  Why?  Not that you should not throw a party for your child, it's fun and wonderful and a great time is usually had by all.  I just want to know why I feel like a failure if your party is better than mine.  I think I am mostly over this, but it used to weigh so heavily on me.  I remember going to my first neighborhood party in our new neighborhood.  A very crafty neighbor who is now a wonderful friend had saved baby jars and made "jars of honey" for her daughter's Winnie The Pooh party.  Little baby food jars full of candy, fabric lid and a bow.  I am the mom who gets the pinata and hands out ziploc bags for the kids to take the candy home.  Then, my pinata was not big enough.  The goodie bags not full enough.  The decorations lacking in some way.

I have spent a fortune on my kids birthday parties and never rented a bouncy house or cotton candy machine.  I did "borrow" the snow cone machine from our church, but that's allowed and it was summer.  There is nothing wrong with a bouncy house either, I just could not afford one.  I also started planning all birthday parties around any kind of meal.  I will put out chips and stuff, but I am not feeding your kids.  I am very fond of the 2 p.m. to 4p.m. party.  No hot dogs, no pizza and that is that.  I learned this the hard way.  Tyler's first birthday cost us over $500.00 and he does not even remember it.  By the time all the family and friends came over and ate and had a beer or a soda, we were down the drain.  

When I was a kid, you went to your friends house, maybe played pin the tail on the donkey, ate the cake their mom had made that morning, opened presents and went home.  When did  Chucky Cheese get in the middle of all this?  It took me a long time, but now, I refuse to give in to the hype.  Who can afford it?  Let's get back to basics.  You can get a lot of decorations for birthdays at the dollar store.  If you must get a cake and you are having a crowd, Costco or Sam's Club make great cakes for great prices.  

In these trying economic times, let's tone it down.  If you are having a family party, maybe make it a pot-luck.  All we really want is the kids to have a great time right?  What did we have fun doing when we were young?  We did not require big rats in nasty costumes singing and scaring the babies.  

What is your best cost saving trick for birthday parties?  Share the love.

God bless you and yours.


Baby Z's Mom said...

I know what you mean. One of the Mom's was saying she was thinking of having the 3 yr olds party at Pump It Up. It's a place with bouncy houses etc inside. It sounds like a blast, but hello the little one is going to be 3! Made me feel like no one will want to come to my daughters playdate/party at the local park. One of her little friends did this for a 1st b day & it was great. An 1 1/2 time frame or so, cupcakes and the playground. I am stiking with this idea no matter what else I hear about other parties. She's going to be 3, she won't care if we have a pony, clown and the circus.

Dawn Cartwright said...

I totally agree that it should not be a one upmanship. The majority of our parties for my three kids were home parties. Enlist the help of older kids if you have them- my son dressed as Bobo the Clown ( he'd die right now thinking back) for his youngest sister's "Clown party". Ironically she is terrified of clowns and mascots today.
We also made a big deal of just our nuclear family as we often moved right before birthdays and the kids had not made friends yet enough to invite. And our extended families all lived too far away.

apittman said...

Don't you think parents around the world are just waiting for someone to be the first to say, "Hey! Let's not do birthday parties anymore!" We've done exactly 2. Then we switched to making birthdays strictly a family affair. The boys choose a restaurant for dinner, we go to a family movie. We've gone to Six Flags and once my youngest son's birthday coincided with a trip to Disneyworld.
Once each of her kids turned 10, my sister-in-law said, "OK, you can have a party, or I can give you this crisp $100 bill and you can buy whatever you want with it." --- Guess what they chose?

apittman said...

Oh, and one more thing...Once our boys reached middle school, any birthday gifts for their friends came out of their allowance.

Kay Klebba said...

We quit birthday parties at ten too. Amazing, great minds think alike. Does anyone really have the time and inclination to get out there and throw an amazing party anymore. I am always exhausted. My greatest achievement and lowest point in exhaustion was Grant's Fear Factor birthday party. I spend eight hours ironing on custom decals that said "I survived Grant's fear factor birthday party, evidently, fear is not a factor for me." complete with everyone's name on it. I think I worked at least ten to twelve hours apart from that. It was a great party though, and seeing the t-shirts at school all year was a nice kudo.

OH MY.....I just got sucked back in. Shame, shame, shame. Backing away from the party store. Yikes.