Why We Stopped Throwing Huge Birthday Parties for Our Kids
It took our family 6 years and 3 children to figure out that throwing huge birthday parties for kids was not working for us. We struggled to make the events special each time and the more we tried, the more stressful it became. We finally switched the way we think when it comes to celebrating our kids and here’s why.
We Have Too Many Kids
Seriously though, we’re going to have 4 kids! All 4 of them have different birthday months. July, March, January, and (probably) September. That’s just our immediate family’s kids! Add in cousin’s birthdays (4 Decembers, 1 November, another July, February, and June) and holidays, too.
Finn, our third kiddo, has an early January birthday, right after Christmas, and right after 4 of our niece’s and nephew’s December birthdays. While planning his first birthday party, it hit me that everyone needed a break in their schedules! We were running out of actual time to schedule without conflicting with another event! It was beginning to feel like we were always planning the next big party. Something had to give.
Booking a venue became too expensive. In our area, it’s hard to find a place big enough for just our local family for under $100! Most places I could find with built in entertainment (bowling, sports parties, play places, etc.) got closer to $300, and that didn’t even include food for the guests.
Multiply that by 4. No, don’t. It’ll make your budget cry.
Trying to save money, we tried hosting in our home, but with friends and family, we simply ran out of space. We live in Ohio, which means the backyard (or parks) can only be used if it’s not 90 degrees, raining, or snowing. That almost never happens here, haha! At least not often enough to rely on. So everyone tries to cram inside, and it gets pretty packed!
Our Friends and Family Have Grown
When we first started out, our family hadn’t grown to the size it is now. Our oldest was the first grandchild on my side and the second on my husband’s. Back then we could get the families together often and it was no big deal, easy even! We now have 7 nieces and nephews in addition to our (soon to be) 4 kids. Our family has grown and we are blessed to have such a large family in close proximity.
We are also blessed to have so many close friends, our friends have lots of kids, too. You get the picture. We have run out of room, unless we want to book an expensive facility. When we were still throwing large parties, we felt awful to not include a family on the invite list when other families were invited. Picking and choosing from our friends caused stress and anxiety.
Reduce Stress and THINGS
When we finally decided to quit throwing huge birthday parties for our kids, the stress of it all cut back dramatically. It was like a breath of fresh air. Having to juggle all of the invite lists and the cost of feeding and hosting everyone was weighing on us, not letting us really enjoy our kid’s celebrations. We could take a step back and relax, and I really think the kids felt that.
One thing I really didn’t think about until it happened was the reduction of things. I try to keep our home from being overrun with toys. We often give toys away that don’t get played with and we rotate as much as we can. When we had large birthday parties, our kids would receive way too many toys, too much stuff. Some things would barely get played with before the kids moved on to other things and we’d end up giving it away barely used. I felt terrible that our friends and family had spent the time and money to purchase these gifts, only to barely be touched.
In an attempt to reduce all of the toys, we tried to say “no gifts please” on the invite, but people tend to not listen. We love that our friends and family are so giving, but we didn’t like watching our kids discard thoughtful items just because there were so many of them.
Should You Throw Huge Birthday Parties for Your Kids?
Don’t get me wrong. Our way of thinking isn’t for everyone. There are some really great reasons that people love to throw huge parties, it’s literally ALL OVER Pinterest!
- If you love hosting parties, go for it! If the thought of hosting and feeding a big group of people gets you excited, there is no reason to fight that. Enjoy it, celebrate big!
- If your budget allows it. Maybe you don’t have a big family? Maybe you do but your budget still allows you to throw a big shindig for them all. GO for it!
- Maybe you don’t have family close by? By all means, invite every friend you can to celebrate your kiddos. Even though we don’t throw big parties anymore, that doesn’t mean we don’t love celebrating our friend’s kids! Every family is different in what works for them. Do what works for your family.
How We Celebrate Now
After we re-evaluated our parties, we didn’t cut out celebrating all together. We dramatically reduced the budget and size using these 2 guidelines.
1. Only Family. We still have a get together for each child. We invite family only. We pick a day and time and stress to the family that if they can’t make it, no big deal. My husband’s brother lives a few hours away, and we understand they can’t make it to every event. Letting our family know it’s a low key event relieves the stress on our end, and we hope it relieves the pressure of attending every event on their end, too.
Grandma still makes cupcakes. The birthday boy or girl gets to open a few presents. Cousins play and the family gets together to eat. It’s still special and fun, but on a much smaller scale.
2. Special Kid’s Pick. We sat the big kids down and explained to them that we would no longer be doing huge birthday parties, but that we would celebrate in other ways.
We let them pick an activity to do with our immediate family, or with a friend or two.
So far, our daughter picked a spend the night with one friend and our son picked glow in the dark putt-putt with our immediate family. They both felt celebrated and excited that they had a say in how they got to celebrate. Eli, our oldest, always requests balloons hanging from his door in the morning of his birthday, it’s a little thing that helps him feel special and we’re happy to oblige those requests!
I’d love to hear from you, how does your family celebrate birthdays?