What were your birthday parties like as a kid? Me? In the beginning, it was family, cake, a few presents. As I got older, it was a few friends, cake, a couple of gifts. Maybe pin the tail on the donkey or hide and seek. It was fun, but not extravagant.
Fast forward to my first daughter's first birthday. 25 invitations were sent out. We had tons of food, a $75 cake, tons of gifts. I spent a ridiculous amount of money for a party she won't ever remember. For her second birthday, we took her and 10 of her closest friends (okay, what two year old could name 10 friends?) and a few cousins to the Teddy Bear Factory. Again, ridiculous amounts of money. The pictures turned out nice though. For her third birthday I was pregnant with Reese. So, in an effort to help the budget, we had the party at the park. Smart. Had the party when no one would expect tons of food. Smart. Got a cake at Costco. Hit the jackpot on that one. It was only $15 and was one of the best cakes I have ever eaten!
I have talked to so many parents who have spent $200 or more on a birthday party. Actually $200 is pretty tame nowadays. You have bounce houses, petting zoos, Libby Loo, gift bags for the guests, cakes that resemble some wedding cakes, and it goes on and on. I realize the kids have a ball, but is it all necessary?
Last year Reia was invited to a birthday party at a friends house. Her mom made the cake; the favors were bubbles; she served cheese and crackers along with the normal party fare of a cake and punch; she made tea and lemonade. There were about 15 children and their moms in attendance. And you know what? The kids ran around and had a ball! They played with all of the new toys, got sugared up on cake, played pin the tail on Boots(of Boots and Dora fame), and went home after 90 min for a nap. It was great! I sat there and thought, "Now, this is the kind of party I remember!" The kids were having fun and the mom was not stressed at all.
Here are some of the tips I have heard that I think are worth mentioning:
1. Only allow your children to invite as many kids as they are old to their parties.
2. When they are young, only have a party with friends every other year.
3. Just have it at home--I bet you have lots of toys already there.
4. If you feel your children have enough toys, have children bring something to donate to a charity for other children.
5. Let your child help make the party decor.
If you have any other time/money/sanity saving ideas, please post them here! Poor Reese (my second child) probably won't have a party with friends until she is three thanks to mommy's new wisdom. Good news--she won't remember!!!! And no, I don't scrapbook enough to get caught.