Children’s Parties – Do We Have To?

Little Man will be turning 1 at the start of September, and Boo is coming up to her fourth birthday, in early October. Naturally, I’ve been pondering how best to mark these milestones and make them special for the children. And I guess that’s the sticking point and crux of this post really – ‘make them special for the children‘. For Boo’s first birthday, we took her to the farm and then we did have a little party for her. Nothing huge, just family and a Children's partyfew close friends round to our house for a birthday tea. She was exhausted, I was a little stressed with the preparations and rushing about fitting it in around her naps to ensure she wasn’t wiped out by it all, and I was left wondering whether she really ‘enjoyed ‘it? I suppose at that age, it is more about us then them, so is that right? I have Little Man’s coming up, and as we did this for Boo, I’m feeling that we should do the same for him. The husband disagrees. He thinks smaller scale, spread it out over a few days and give him little treats each day. We have, amongst other things, a farm and park visit, cake and balloons, a trip out to Thomasland, and presents to open, across 5 days worth of ‘birthday time’. We’re going with this, as really the only point on which I differ from his here is that ‘she had it, so he should’ – but I’m wavering on whether that really matters. She had a lot of things that he doesn’t have, like peace and quiet, thanks to her!

Moving on to Boo, since that first year, we’ve done things a little differently with her. We have little birthday teas at each grandparents house, including family on either side attending the relevant grandparents’ tea, which builds in to our regular weekend visits to them anyway. There’s often cake and balloons, so all is well. For her second birthday, we took her to Chester Zoo, and then stayed in a hotel up there overnight, which was a first for her, and she loved it. For her third, bearing in mind Little Man was just 4 weeks old, we went to Thomasland for the day (she’s a huge theme park adrenalin junkie!), as it’s only 10 minutes from us, so an easy day out and her grandparents popped in to see her splash landingswhen we got back. This year, we’re booked into Splash Landings hotel, with our Alton Towers tickets all ready (free, of course, thanks to Tesco Clubcard, as were Thomasland tickets last year…!) and she can’t wait. But some of her friends are having parties. We’ve been to some for 2nd and 3rd birthdays, and they seem to be increasing as she gets older. I can only imagine the surge in her social calendar when she starts school. But is it the correct etiquette to reciprocate? I’m aware that she’s had fun at the expense of these parents laying on parties for their children, yet their kids aren’t getting that time back in kind from us. I’d rather spend the money on something a little more spectacular for just the four of us (the tickets might be free, but alas the hotel and water park are not!). I’m also not one for the whole ‘keeping up with the Jones” and trying to throw a better party than the one we went to last week. My mind doesn’t operate like that, but is that fair? On our children and others? Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that as the children get older, if they want parties, I’ll point blank refuse them. I’m just not up for having them simply because everyone else does! I’m probably influenced by the fact that when my brother and I were younger, we didn’t have big parties either. Friends round for a tea and some games or a film, yes, but never a hired hall, entertainer and the entire class. I was happy with that, and I was aware that that meant more of the budget could be spent on my presents 😉

What’s your take on this one? Do you do big parties? Should others reciprocate? I’ve a feeling once Boo’s at school the party treadmill will begin..!

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12 thoughts on “Children’s Parties – Do We Have To?”

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    When MG was 2&1/2 she started looking forward to birthdays and parties. She loves having a big party and as her birthday is in February, too soon after all those Christmas presents, she’s been happy with a party instead of presents! She’s had a small party at soft play, a big party in Church hall, and an enormous party with face painter in village hall. This year she had six guests at home as that’s all we could afford. I felt terribly guilty about not inviting her class, but she’s not invited to every party either (there are only four other girls in her year and she was only invited to one of their parties but invited them all to hers!)

    I skipped first and second birthdays because the children were too young to care, and we’ve not been able to give DG the big parties MG had because I stopped working. Every child is different. MG loves her party and DG takes after her big sister, but if your children prefer other things then you shouldn’t feel obliged to have a party. MG plans hers about a year in advance and starts inviting people in September for a February party – fortunately the parents understand that they’re not real invites 😉

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      Oh, I love how she plans them so far ahead & gets going on the invites! A well-organised girl after my own heart 🙂 I think you’re right – it’ll be up to their preferences. Little Man’s obviously too young now to choose, though Boo will be 4 and the idea of a theme park and hotel has got her very excited, with no mention of a party. Maybe after she’s been to a few more, she’ll ask, but until then, I think we’ll avoid!

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    I have a half written post on this matter! I have been guilty of a big party when they are small – now I have changed my ways! My eldest is coming up 6 and the amount some people are spending on their childrens parties are ridiculous – its competitive parents gone mad I think. x

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      Love that you say ‘guilty’! It is worrying when it’s about parents being competitive, rather than the kids having a great time.

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    for us Joshuas 1st birthday we had a houseful and practically missed the entire event and promised myself never again! this year we took him out for the day just us and then did my parents visits and cake during the day and then at tea time he had a second cake at hubbys parents …. and we are doing the same again next birthday! x

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      That sounds like a lot calmer & more enjoyable day for everyone! Makes more sense, I think, when they’re so young 🙂

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    I certainly felt guilty for not reciprocating to start with but people need to understand that not all of us have the money! I kept it small to the select few last year and it is was fine. It helps that Grace’s birthday is during the Christmas holidays so no one really knows! Thanks for linking to PoCoLo x

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      Ah, that is handy – keep it on the down-low! It’s tricky balancing what children want & what others’ expectations are. I’m going with the kids requests & see how that goes..! Thank you for the #PoCoLo

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    I’ve always avoided big parties as much as I can – with five children we have a party before we’ve invited anyone else! Occassionally, however, I have been involved in bigger parties – but only when they were joined with other children with birthdays near by to avoid conflicting dates. These work really well, as you reduce the stress on individual parents, and the children seem to enjoy sharing a party. On the other hand, my nearly 8 year old is desperate to invite many of her friends to her party and has turned down a girlie pamper session (nails and hair) that she was originally really excited about because she would only be able to take two friends with her. I can see this becoming more of an issue as she gets older, when I’d hoped we’d finished the ‘whole class’ party concept once she turned six.

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      I’d imagine with a big family, it’s wise to avoid big parties for all five, very time! Ah, you see, I don’t have the pressure of mine asking me for them yet – all to come! Thanks for sharing, and I hope you can get away with smaller parties.. 😉

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    Ouch. The whole question of parties is a sore point for me… My son has autism, and with that comes all sorts of social barriers that can be impossible to overcome in a mainstream school. I did TRY to do a big ‘everyone in his class’ party once, but had no idea how many people were going to show up because so few RSVP’d. Turned out not many, though the day was saved for him at least by a good turnout of kids from his (specialist) preschool and portage / NAS ‘earlybird’ groups. It was very upsetting for me, though, as it very graphically demonstrated the kind of casual disenfranchisement and prejudice that disabled kids can suffer… After that I kept parties small and made them day out events rather than ‘High Teas’, inviting only his closest friends who I knew wouldn’t let him down. I’m sure my son would love a big party now, and I hope that the transition from a SEN residential school to a local college for sixth form will enable him to widen his network of friends in time for his eighteenth in a couple of years…

    Sorry if I come across as a bit of a party pooper, but I thought this perspective on the whole big party thing was one worth sharing. And of course it’s not just disability that can make a kid an outsider as far as birthday parties go – we live in a world that can be very judgemental about ‘difference’ of any kind.

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      Thank you for sharing your experiences. I suppose with parties comes acceptance and popularity, too, though to be honest I was looking at more from a financial and stress- level angle. You’re absolutely right in pointing out the impact of poorly attended parties, the frustrations of no-replies or, as I’d guess often happens, acceptances that then don’t turn up (I understand life with kids isn’t always predictable). I’m glad that your son still enjoyed his party, at least, and it sounds good to go with fun days out with closer friends – better to treat those worthy of your son’s friendship anyway. Thanks for your comments.

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