Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Why I'm Done Throwing My Son Birthday Parties

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!


Susie R said...

Yes! I totally agree! We are a one child family, so it is easy to go overboard with things like birthday parties, but really try not to.

We do a party every other year, and I, like you, do not make the cake or do very much. We usually go bowling with friends or something like that so we don't have to deal with having lots of people at our (small) home at once.

The non party years? We take a family trip or pick a special activity that our son can do with one friend. Depending on what we choose, these activities can get pricey, so we combine these activities with our plans for a yearly vacation or something somewhat educational, but fun, too.

Melissa said...

I have 2 children. I never understood how people spent so much money on parties. The kids get to invite as many kids as they are years old. We'll probably cap that at 10 though. I make a cake which costs less than $5, ice cream for $3. We usually don't feed the guests other than maybe a snack and cake and ice cream. I buy plates and napkins at the dollar store. We use Pinterest to create a few games related to the theme and then do very simple gift bags. I've never added it up but I know it is less than $50. We also do a party every other year, rotating between kids. If it's not the party year they can invite a friend to a special activity adn go out to lunch.

Kristin A. said...

After moving far from family, we started doing something small and enjoyable for each child. Last year we let Addison invite one friend to her choice of venue (the movies). We also let them choose the meals for the day! This year we will be moving right before Addison and Austin's birthdays, so we are making a fun stop en route to celebrate both! (And they have no idea!!!)

Parties are so stressful and expensive! I would rather give my children fun memories with their family!!

Anonymous said...

When I was growing up (in the 80s, which is definitely different from today!), we had no hard and fast rules, but generally had small "parties" most years, and a big party once every few years. For me, small parties usually consisted of a couple of friends spending the night, having pizza, cake and ice cream, and renting a movie (we even rented the VCR! LOL!). A bigger party might be a pool party or the McDonald's party, or something like that. To this day, we get to choose our birthday supper, regardless of the day we actually celebrate. That goes for our parents, too!

My cousins, who are currently elementary and middle school aged, have the opportunity for a party every other year, and they don't always take it. The non-party years, they have the opportunity to choose a family activity (sometimes an overnight trip somewhere, other times, just an activity close to home). When they were younger, we always tried to get together for their birthdays, mostly just an excuse to spend time together with extended family and to eat cake and ice cream!

I think it's a great idea to tone down birthdays, and most everything else in life. It isn't easy, and you definitely have to choose to do it. Keeping up with the Joneses is a real thing! I am working on toning down on "stuff". It is not easy, but will be worth it! Good luck in your "intentional" adventure, and enjoy toned down birthdays! :)


Jennifer said...

We have always done parties, but after planning and planning this year and then only 3 of his friend's showing up to the party, I thought, "Why am I doing this?" We have decided this next year to take them to do something special instead of doing a party

Anonymous said...

Our neighbors are grandparents and instead of giving their grand kids an elaborate or expensive gift, they make a memory. Each grandchild gets to spend a day or weekend with them and they'll plan a trip/visit to a location or activity the kid would enjoy but that would allow a memory to be made. They've done a visit to a historical site or boat ride or butterfly park or bowling, miniature golfing, beach, etc. It's usually not something expensive, but the event may be more elaborate for a bigger birthday such as 18 or 15, etc.
I've always loved the idea because it makes a memory and allows the bonds to grow more.