Thing 2

To ParTAY or Not To ParTAY

DSC_0032 (1)We are giving NikkiZ a real birthday party this year. One at a location other than our home where we send out invitations at school and to the soccer team. This is her first real party. We had a gathering of friends and family for her first birthday…but the guests were mostly adults. This is our first birthday part where she invites her friends. And she is SOOOO excited. She can’t stop talking about it and would invite her entire school if we let her.

Some people do parties like this for their kids every year, some never do it. I’m curious to see how you all look at this topic. I never had any sort of party growing up. When I was 13 my friend Mollie and her family threw me a surprise birthday party…which ranks as one of the best nights of my life. That was the only real With Friends birthday party I ever had and I still remember it to this day. Now, I have friends who had parties every year and none of them really stand out in their adult minds. And then there’s MrZ, who had a few, and remembers them each. They may not stand out like mine does in my mind, but they are still vivid in his memory because they were rare and special.

So…my thought is that if we spread them out, maybe have one ever 3-5 years, then they’ll be special enough to be remembered, but not so common they become expected. I think the way I grew up may be a bit extreme and not necessary, but I don’t think I can throw a party every year and expect my child to appreciate it consistently. What do you think? I would love it if I could throw one every year and my child still appreciate it and remember it as they grow up. I just don’t think it’s realistic. But if you had one every year and remember every one? I’d love to hear about it. How did you grow up? How are you raising your kids? What plays a part in your decision? Is it all about the money because these things are EXPENSIVE. I think it takes four years just to save up for one. Even if I wanted to do one every year our budget couldn’t handle it, but for us it’s about more than the money. What is it for you? What do you decide and why?

28 thoughts on “To ParTAY or Not To ParTAY”

  1. I have more parties now because I didn’t have many growing up. However I have always wanted a surprise party. I have never had one of those….thrown em lots of times, yes….but never had one.

    Growing up we had some birthdays that were “big” and I say big, meaning we had kids over to swim and bbq’d nothing crazy like what some people do today. While other times, I had a dinner with just my family and maybe one friend….I think doing it spaced out is just fine!! Big milestones. πŸ™‚

  2. Since Evi is so little we don’t intend on doing real parties for a while. We want to ask people to donate to her college fund instead of presents until she is old enough to ask for a party… we’re figuring around four or so. Until then, hopefully we’ll just see donations to her college fund! After that, I’d like to keep it to small, in home parties with homemade cakes and such until she is much older. That’s what we always did when I was a kid, and I enjoyed it.

  3. With P we waited until 5 to do the first “real” party with school friends & jumpy houses & the whole 9 yards. It seemed like good timing. Guess that means I owe S a big one next birthday then to be equal. That led to big parties for P at 6 and 7 …

    This month as P turns 8 we’re working on downsizing to a one friend sleepover and pouring the money into The Presents instead. (She’s getting an iPod Touch)

  4. We did family parties until 5. Then we did a friend parties until 10. At 10 we stopped parties and did one at 13, and 16. Some more elaborate than others but after 10 the gifts they want get more expensive so we don’t really concentrate on a party per se and just hit the major milestones.

  5. I had birthday slumber parties almost every year of elementary school. I do remember all of them. They weren’t very expensive because all we needed were food, cake, and movies. My mom planned fun games like potato-sack racing and carrying-an-egg-on-a-spoon racing. I think the only bad thing for my parents was that they probably didn’t get a lot of sleep with so many giggling girls at their house.

    When I was older, I got to do things like invite a few friends to a baseball game with my family or go to a water park with a couple of friends and my family.

  6. We usually just have family over for birthday cake and sometimes hot dogs. Elder Spawn usually gets the shaft since his birthday is 22 days before Christmas. And his present requests get more expensive as he ages (hello 18 this December!!). To me, the gift to party ratio is to be considered. I think he had 1 party at the movies because that’s what he wanted and he understood that expense was part of his birthday gift.

    He’s never really had a HUGE birthday but he always, ALWAYS had great Halloweens with hard-core home made costumes and trick or treating (have to drive around to the “good” neighborhoods in the rural South).

    The youngest had his first big party this year (4). He’s into pirates so he had a party at Nana’s with his 2 cousins and my 1 goddaughter. Still not huge, but we did buy a pinata and all the loot we could get at the Dollar Tree.

    My best girlfriend always seems to put herself in the hole over her kids birthdays. We have different family dynamics so on the one hand, I can understand her indulgence of expensive parties (cake, decorations, food platters, sodas) and expensive gifts. I have to sit on the other hand to keep from smacking her upside the head.

  7. I had one or two before I was 10; then I had a great one at 13 and a huge one at 16. I think spreading them out is a good idea. I remember my 13th like it was yesterday. My 16th was big and grand, and it was a night to remember… so I say spread them out!

  8. I think the idea of spreading them out is pretty cool, as long as each year is marked and special with the family (even if it’s little things, like they get to pick what’s for dinner, and cake and presents with the immediate family.) I love the idea of a day we spend celebrating the things that are so uniquely “you”. πŸ™‚

  9. Sorry, I can’t help with an answer here. I don’t remember much of anything about growing up, for some reason. But I’m dying to hear how your teeth are!

  10. I’m a fan of backyard birthdays for the under-5 crowd. I always picked up BBQ (Whitt’s!) or cooked something theme appropriate (a ham for the luau) back then. Maybe I’m selfish…but I made those parties about adults getting to visit and eat delicious food and kids getting to run around and play with each other. I did small party favors that they could play with at the party. I never did a craft or organized activity. Everyone always said that they were fantastic parties — mostly I think they loved the food; apparently, we don’t play around when it comes to feeding people? Now that my two are 8 and 6, I let them choose between a friends party and a family excursion to a nearby city for the weekend. The last two years they have both picked the weekend. We still do a small family-only party on their birthday with their favorite dinner, cake, gifts. Our weekends have been to Atlanta (aquarium, American Girl store to spend birthday money) and Chattanooga and this year I think we are going to Louisville to tour the slugger factory and visit horse farms/Churchill Downs. We all love these trips and they are way more memorable than a 2-3 hour party. πŸ™‚ So my advice, let the age and interests of your children dictate your party planning! Hope the party is wonderful!

  11. We have birthday parties. This year Audrey invited 4 friends over (she turned 4) for a FANCY lunch (snadwiches cut into shapes and decorate your own cupcakes) they played dress up for two hours while I visited with the moms (who are all my friends). Elliot’s party was at a local park for the 3rd year in a row. Again, a lot of our friends are his friends’ parents, so there’s nice overlap. We played games and had an ice cream sundae bar.

    I like doing *something* yearly. There won’t be a yearly jumpy castle though. We have friends that have great parties each year and it’s getting harder and harder for the mom because each year the kid says, “no I already had that party.” She’s running out of options and he’s only 7.

    I had one party as a kid, I was 10 and my mom took me and 10 of my friends to see Footloose and then have a slumber party. I think she’s still recovering, 25 years later.

  12. I had some type of party every year, but it was often a small (2-3) friends who had cake together. Then there were a few big ones — I thought I was having 2 friends over for my 13th, and then I went downstairs and there were about 10 people as a surprise. So that sticks out.

    With my son however, we are trying to have something every year because his birthday is Dec. 20th. I feel a need to make an effort on his birthday so it’s not overshadowed by Christmas too much. So far most of the birthday parties around here still tend to be friends coming over for play and cake.

  13. I had a party every year until a certain age I guess (like 10 or 11 maybe.) I love looking at the photos of the parties I do not remember (say before 4) because it was the 70s and we were cute and dude is that Kermit the Frog on that plate?!

    Of the ones I do remember there are two that stand out. They were the two birthday that occurred the 1st two years after we moved from upstate NY to CA. Those stand out because dude I was born in NY in NOVEMBER. California in November I could actually play Pin the tail on the donkey OUTSIDE and have a putt putt golf party. And that kicked ass πŸ™‚

    I always think birthdays should make one feel warm and special to think back on so whether it is a huge blow out every year or a gathering of special friends and/or family every year (or every other or whatever works) or just a special date with mommy and daddy – any celebration just so long as we celebrate the day we were born is mostly important, you know?!

    We have done the whole at the house invite a group of friends and their parents every year for our kids with a theme and oh it is always a lot of fun. I like the idea of having parties like I had when I was a kid I guess.

    For my son’s 5th party, we are going off site to the YMCA and we will let him mostly choose who can come with a limit of sorts in terms of the number of kids. Am babbling going to stop.

  14. When I was growing up there wasn’t the amount of pressure I see now for parents to provide a huge
    birthday blow out for every birthday. I had one sleep over party the year I turned 10 and it was great.
    The other years my parents made my day special
    with gifts at breakfast and letting me pick my favorite
    foods for dinner. My husband and I have pretty much
    continued on the same way. I think each of my kids
    has had one sleep over party and on the rest of the
    years we just celebrated their special day as a family.
    Maybe I’m just weird, but I kind of equate sending out
    birthday invitations as demanding presents for my
    kid, totally my own hang-up though. I certainly don’t judge anyone for having a party every year.

  15. My twins are almost 1, and we’re in a mom’s group that all have kids born within two months of each other (although, we’re the only twin set).

    Anyway, in a recent playgroup, the subject of birthday parties came up, and people started listing what they were going to do and invite. I made an offhand remark about the juggler, bouncy house and magician we had all set for our party.

    I got a lot of blank stares because they TOTALLY believed me! I thought I was making an outrageous statement and everyone would laugh, but they thought I wasn’t kidding!! For a first birthday? I quickly followed it up with “Those kids will be damn lucky to get a cake, let alone a party” and laughter thankfully followed.

    So, I’m sort of with you. I had exactly two birthday parties growing up at 12 and 16, the rest were all just family celebrations. I think as the boys get older, birthdays will be more about doing something adventurous or fun, vs. a whole party debacle.

  16. I don’t know if I had a birthday party every year or not growing up. I do distinctly remember a few but that doesn’t mean there aren’t others I don’t remember. I don’t think you can control what makes something memorable. We did a kid party every year for our kids but nothing big really. It varied from year to year as to size, location and activity – kind of depending on what I was up for – never trying to top the last, just go with the flow. One year we had lanes reserved at a bowling alley but when we got there they were closed for repairs. We went to the nearby park and it started to rain, had to finish up at our house – memorable to me. All that said, I always say do what you feel is right for your family and that is what will work for you.

  17. My darling husband feels our kids should have big fun parties EVERY year. Meanwhile, I think it is stupid to have so much fun for everyone else’s kid and they aren’t appreciative.

    Aidan has a party for every birthday so far. And so far the other kids (his cousins) tend to benefit more. Sure he has fun but still. Sam will probably not have a party this year only because we are strapped and with his birthday being less than 3 weeks before christmas, it’ll be crazy.

    I think parties are fine but I think the ‘intensity’ of a party should vary year to year so that kids don’t become expectant of having a big bash.

    Now if I could just get my husband to realize that.

  18. We are doing an outside of the home, “real” party this year – it is at a nearby nature center and will include a live animal demonstration. It was $60 to get the place for 2 hours for 15 kids. That sounded reasonable to me in place of having to clean my house and be stressed out about playing hostess. I will serve some cupcakes and ice cream, then that is it. No party favors/gift bags and no excessive gifts for the birthday boy even (save for a few from my own family attending)

    To me, anything over $100 is expensive (and yes, even for the “home parties” I spent about that by the time I bought games, decorations, favors and cake). We will see – I can envision having a fancy party maybe a few times for each kid. I am with Mr Z, I don’t mind having a few fancy parties that will stand out in each kid’s head. But certainly not every year.

  19. Our family does a family party every year, and friend parties every other year, starting at age 5 (you can have a guest for each year old you are…) staggering the parties so you only have one friend party a year (two kids makes that easier…)

  20. I have friends who do big parties for their kids every 5 years–so ages 5, 10, 15. This way the kids know when to expect them, can plan for what they want to do, and don’t ask for them other years. The other years they just do smaller in house parties with a few of their kids’ friends.

    I am not so organized, so have no idea what I’m doing one year to the next, but my daughter is 8, and we’ve never gone anywhere big, she was lucky to be born in June, so we usually go to a park, invite everyone in her class, and I just let the kids play. So I am not only disorganized, but lazy!
    (She has always said she’s had a great time at her party, though!)

  21. I am one of nine kids so we never had Friends over for parties.

    I agree with you. A part every few years is perfect. Like Milestone birthdays.

  22. Kim – Piper still isn’t getting a “real” birthday party. We invite adults with kids, then throw a party for ALL of us in the driveway and yard. Beer and BBQ with birthday cake as dessert. She’s going to grow up country πŸ™‚
    Last year, we rented an inflatable and that was AWESOME!!! So we will be doing the same this year….and for as many years as I can get away with it! I am sure Halloween Parties are in my near future (and possibly yours too!) But just think of how much fun it will be to dress 80s and embarrass the girls πŸ™‚ WAHOO!!!

    When I was growing up, my parents gave us “milestone” parties – 5 years old (old enough to start school), 10 (entering double digits), 13 (entering teen years), 16 (you can drive) then no more. Although, I don’t remember having one or wanting one for my 16th birthday.

  23. I do kid parties for my kids every year from 3 on. That’s when they started really having and playing with friends from play dates and activities and school. I choose to have it outside of my home because I am lazy and not very creative. That takes the pressure off of me. I’m not sure that every one of these parties will stand out in their minds later, but it isn’t only about making memories. It’s also about celebrating the moment. That they do appreciate.

  24. For Scout we were able to get by inexpensively. He’s a summer baby. We live in a community with dues that pays the care and maintenance of the beaches and pools. $50 deposit pays to reserve one of the beaches or pools and you get it back when you clean up after yourself. The only real expense is food (though having decent food that will impress your friends is not easy or cheap…and I like to serve good food). We have had a party for him every year. The past couple of years we’ve invited only the boys to something smaller that costs more per head (movies or bowling and pizza).

    For Lil’bug, who turns 4 in December, we’re not getting off that easy. All her friends have started having parties and she’s started talking about what she wants to do for her birthday. Every year the cycle perpetuates itself. I don’t see any way to get out of it. At some point my SIL stopped throwing big parties for my niece and started saving that money for her sweet 16…and what a party THAT was! It was bigger than my wedding…by about double, easily.

    My advice: start with this one and take it one year at a time. Eventually you’ll be able to cut the guest list in half and invite only the girls in her class. Then cut it further and invite only her closest girl friends.

    What did you do with LilZ?

  25. We had one every year when I was little, maybe until 10. But always basic – homemade cake, pin the tail on the donkey.

    We had the first last year, third birthday. Just 5 kids at our house. I’m not sure what to do this year. My cousins live 2 hours away, and always invite us (our kids are close in age), but they are crazy extravagent-they paid for 12 kids, plus their parents, to go to Sesame Park for their sons 2nd birthday. Maybe $25 apiece! So inviting them for ice cream and coloring at my house – I just couldn’t do it. I just hate that crap. A 2-year old doesn’t need that, and won’t remember it.

  26. My parents gave each of us kids (me and my 3 brothers) a party at age 8 with our friends and another party at age 16 with our friends. They are both very special memories for me and my husband and I will do the same for our children. We did the obligatory 1 year birthday with the immediate family, but 8 and 16 year birthdays will be for the kid and their friends.

    My 8 year birthday was a Strawberry Shortcake theme with a Strawberry Shortcake cake and everything. It was one of my best days ever.

  27. I had a party every year, but it was always at our house so not so expensive. But I LOVED them. highlight of my year, each time. Not that I can remember each individual one (although I still get people commenting on my cakes that my Mum made me each year, even a couple of days ago someone I hadn’t seen in years remembered my birthday party cake and BROUGHT IT UP lol) but in general, it was just the best day of my life (along with Christmas) every year.

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