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.

Cathi October 10, 2012 at 10:33 AM
Stay strong Kathy. I let my oldest son have 11 kids sleep over for his 10th birthday. I still have the marks on the wall from the shaving cream they sprayed on their sleeping "friends". Thanks, I'm done too.
Grace Secula Hagemeyer October 10, 2012 at 12:39 PM
I don't know how big your family is, but having three family dinner parties with extended family in one month sounds way more stressful to me that having a bunch of kids over. I say simplify further and have one family party for all three.
Nora October 10, 2012 at 10:42 PM
When I was a kid we would buy some candy etc, make cake+some kind of easy food, invite some kids over to the house and play games for a few hours. 0.o Never cost us hundreds and hundreds of dollars and everyone had a good time


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