Friday, March 27, 2009
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.