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Kathy's Chaos: Just Say No To Kids' Friend Parties

Trying to keep the birthdays simple this year

It was not easy, but I just said no. This year will be the second year that I have said no to throwing three kids’ friend birthday parties.

My children’s birthdays all take place within 3½ weeks of each other. We did not plan that well. Well, we did not plan that. 

Throw Halloween into the mix and you’ve got four major Yevchak holidays jammed into a short period of time.

It’s not that I don’t love a party. I do! But are three, two-hour orchestrated kids’ birthday parties really worth the money and stress they cost me? The kids want the parties because their friends have the parties. As a parent, we feel pressure to have our kids fit in and for them to have what their friends have.

But let’s consider the costs involved. First, the physical costs. I suffer from migraines, occasional panic attacks and various other stress-related ailments. The more I add to my schedule, the worse these things get. More parties = more stress for me. And I haven’t even mentioned the gray hair.

Second, the financial costs:  

  • $350 for the party place
  • $50 for the cake
  • $20 invitations and thank you notes
  • $100 on goodie bags
  • $50 on food for the parents who stay at the party

That’s $570 before I even buy my child a present. Multiply this amount times three and you’ve got $1,710 spent just on the parties in less than a month. Add to this the three birthday dinner parties we have with aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins and my husband and I could have gone on a seven-day cruise by ourselves instead.

I have always wanted to go to Bermuda.

When I was little, I had one birthday party with friends. It was for my 5th birthday. It was at the local McDonald’s (see accompanying photo). It was a BIG DEAL. I will never forget it. And my mom was very smart. It was once and done. We should all take note.

It was actually last year that I drew the line myself. I was a mean mommy and declared a moratorium on the kids’ friend parties. I am not too terrible as we still have the family parties. To counterbalance my guilt over forgoing the kids’ friend parties, I allow each of my children to invite one or two friends to the family party.

Skipping the kids’ friend parties may not be my children’s idea of an ideal birthday celebration, but who’s the mom here? The way I look at it, I just saved my sanity as well as a good chunk of money.

Hmm...I think I may call the travel agent and look into that cruise.

George Johnson October 14, 2012 at 12:29 PM
Sounds very selfish to me!
Sally October 14, 2012 at 05:33 PM
I also find it foolish to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on children's birthday celebrations, but their birthday should be special and celebrated. Get a small $12 cake or bake one. Allow a friend or two to sleep over. Maybe get pizza for dinner. Allow them to stay up a couple of hours later and watch a movie or play games. Make them some popcorn. I'm sure you could figure out away to do this for under $35.00 plus the gift you were going to give them anyway. Buy the pizza in advance. Almost ever pizzeria runs a special during the week. Freeze it and reheat it the day of the sleep over. Pizza $12.00, Bake a cake $ 5.00, Popcorn, you pop it in a pot on the stove and add salt & butter $2.00, Games Free, A couple of movies $10.00, Breakfast the next morning for one or two extra children $2.00 and have them picked up before noon. Total: $31.00 If that's to pricey for you down scale it some BUT celebrate the child's birthday, "for crying out loud."
emptyprime October 15, 2012 at 11:55 AM
Lots of fun can be done at a better price than $575, $100 on goodie bags? $350 for the place? I would be stressed out too if I wasted money like that. I have never spent more than $20 on a cake and my kids have enjoyed every birthday with friends and family. I also bake fun cupcakes which works well and saves on cutting and serving the cake. You can cut stress and money at the same time. Set a budget that works for your family and stick to it.

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