There’s been a great deal of talk recently, concerning kid’s birthday parties. A lot of conversation has been spurred on by a recent news story of out the U.K. If you haven’t heard the story, a 5 year old boy’s parents RSVP’d yes for their son to attend a classmate’s birthday party, even re-confirming a few days prior. The day of the party, the boy’s grandparents had come for a visit. Given the option, the boy chose to skip the party and spend time with his family. Unfortunately, the parents didn’t call the birthday boy’s family to let them know. The following week, the upset mother sent a “no show” invoice for the cost of the Snow Centre ticket she purchased on their son’s behalf.
This story really made headlines and struck a nerve with quite a few people. The situation could probably have been worked out by the two parents very easily, but now it’s become big news. It’s no wonder, since children’s birthday parties have become serious business.
Having three kids, I’ve hosted plenty of parties over the years. My kids and I have also been guests at lots of parties; some grand and some simple. When I was a kid (I like to think it wasn’t that long ago), birthday parties weren’t typically extravagant occasions. If it was a milestone birthday, like a sweet sixteen for example, then sure, you’d go all out. For all the others in between, a birthday party consisted of a few school or neighborhood friends, some pizza, and a homemade cake. Boy, have things changed. It seems like every detail now is so elaborate. Between the venue, the party favors and the cake, even thinking about party planning is exhausting.
In all honesty, I’m probably guilty of going overboard with a few parties here and there myself. However, the more time goes by, the shorter the guest list becomes, the more simplified the festivities. As a matter of fact, my daughter will be turning 6 in a couple of weeks. Keeping with the tradition of the previous five birthdays, she’s once again decided to go with a princess theme! I could probably talk her into something else, but my son (who is 13 now) had a Spiderman birthday for at least 3 years that I can remember. If I can do Spiderman three times, I figure I can work with another princess birthday. One thing I know is that I will be keeping things very casual. Here are a few ways that I plan to keep the festivities simple, but still make sure the guests have a great time and my daughter feels special on her big day.
I will keep the guest list to family.
Once I gather all of my nieces and nephews, we’ll already have 10 kids. Add grandparents, aunts, and uncles, and our guest list will quickly jump to 20! I’ll save the invites to the neighbors, friends from school, and other extended family for another occasion.
The food will be simple.
I’ll order pizza and a few platters with cold cuts!
We’ll do simple decorations.
I don’t remember when choosing a theme started becoming standard for every party. I know I’ll sound old when I say, “When I was a kid we didn’t have a theme for every party.” It’s true. Sometimes you can make things look festive with some balloons and a piñata.
I’ll order a cake.
For me it’s actually easier than making it myself and risk messing up of the decorating. I admire those who are creative and can make decorating a cake look effortless. This definitely isn’t my forte so I’ll just leave it to the pros.
I’ll be prepared for surprises.
There may be guests that don’t show up, or there may be a few unexpected guests. Just in case, I’ll have a few extra of everything and I’ll allow time for last minute items that I may need from the store. If something doesn’t go as planned, I’ll stay calm and try not to stress. (I’ll admit that may be a stretch, but I can try!)
If I could share a nugget of experience with people who are planning one of their first parties, I would say, do what makes you comfortable. Parties should be about enjoying time with family and friends and making memories. One thing I will do for certain is capture the day in pictures. That way we can all share the memories for years to come.
While my little girl will only turn six once, there will always be more celebrations in the future to do things differently. Having two teenagers, I’ve already learned the value of keeping things simple and enjoying the day. I’ve had my share of parties where I tried to do it all and spent the day in a frenzy. If I’ve learned anything by having my kids so spread apart in age, it’s that I will enjoy each and every moment because in the blink of an eye, all three of my kids will be grown up.