I stumbled upon this article: Why I'm done throwing my son birthday parties a few days after JB and I had discussed this very thing.
I never thought about whether I would throw birthday parties for my children before I had children. The parties just sort of happened. I lived on military bases up until this year and when you are living in remote locations, we were always looking for excuses to get together and provide family for one another. You don't have family around so having a "little party" with Grampa and Grama isn't possible. You didn't want to leave people out, and so instead, you'd have a lot of people join you.
We have always kept our birthday parties very simple. My rule was always one hour and one hundred dollars.
That was pretty easy on military bases where there were lots of opportunities for cheap birthday parties. But we are back in the USA now. Things are more expensive. People's time is much more valuable. And keeping these gatherings to an hour when you are driving across town is not really reasonable.
I don't do gift bags for kids. I don't send invites. I don't make my own cake. I don't provide a big meal. However, I quickly realized that despite doing parties simply, I was spending way more than one hundred dollars and the party was way longer than one hour.
Time to make a change.
I'm definitely not saying we are not going to have birthday parties for our children. Please make sure you understand that. I think parties can be fun and we are not setting a hard and fast rule. But we are trying to live more intentionally and things like birthday parties fits into this idea.
I've heard of some good alternatives.
My friend Kristi actually has parties for her kids at the ages of 1, 5, 10 and 16 which I think is a neat idea.
My friend Joia spent her son's birthday day doing inexpensive things that would make him feel special.
What we are saying for now is that we are taking the next year off. After Isaac's party in May (which allows each child to have one party in the USA), we are going to take the next year off of parties. One reason is that we won't really know people where we are moving for quite some time.
But a bigger reason is simply because we think we can be more purposeful in our use of time and money when it comes to celebrating our children. Instead we are going to do what this author discusses. We are going to take that money and do something fun or educational or celebratory without having to plan a party, entertain people, and spend money that we feel could be better spent.
I'd love to hear what you do for birthday parties in your family. Fire away!