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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.

Lisa Marcus Levine October 14, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Who says you need to throw a $500 party for kids to have fun. Invite a handful of friends to the house to play games and eat sandwiches (or pizza) and home-made cake. Hire a teenager ($20 for 2 hours) to help keep things under control and maybe to direct a an art project. If you are so inclined you can make a pinata - even better if you do it with your child - that you can fill with candy of your choice or you can fill it with (soft) party favors to avoid the chaotic scramble for candy. If you are OK with using paper, let your child pick party plates and napkins. Kids like to celebrate special occasions with their friends, as do adults. You can give your kids a low stress party for under $100.

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