How I Avoid the Parenting Trend of Throwing Over-The-Top Children’s Parties
By Jenn Cox
Photo © brandimarkham/Twenty20
Mar 25, 2019
What happened to the good ol’ days when birthdays parties involved your three best friends, a game of pin the tail on the donkey and a slice of cake?
Today’s birthday parties have gotten quite elaborate, from the themes to the customized and homemade food, the lengthy invite lists and the DIY projects (darn you, Pinterest!).
In my opinion, a birthday party should really serve one purpose: to make the birthday boy/girl feel special. So, stop worrying about what Susie-Homemaker-mom thinks of your store-bought cake, forgo the “kids birthday” pins and find out how to control party-planning chaos once and for all. Because it's all worked for me!
Set a limit. It’s really the only way to keep the numbers down (and the cost and stress levels). Let the honouree choose their five best friends. Or, set a rule: classmates only, or outside friends only. Some parents just stick to gender — they have a boy, so they invite all the boys in the class. Know your own limits and work within them!
Relevant Reading: I Don't Want to Sign a Contract So My Kid Can Go to Your Party
Rethink the Goody Bag System
Ugh, do we really need more stuff? Junky toys and sugary candy? Most parents are over this. Think outside the box a little, and more about what kids can actually use. Spring is around the corner, so why not a seed packet per child? Or maybe something creative, like a colouring book and a box of crayons, or a very small gift card to Tim’s. You’ll feel better knowing you’re buying a little surprise that will be used, and the other parents will appreciate the clutter-less idea, too.
Serve Simple Food
Sure, your child would love to eat Lego-shaped brownies or unicorn sandwiches, but really: who needs the aggravation? Unless you can afford to hire someone to execute lofty party food goals, keep it simple! Kids like food they know, so stick to the basics. They’ll be your least-discerning food critics. Trust me.
Keep It Short and Sweet
There’s no need for a marathon of a party. Two to three hours is more than enough time for a little ‘do to celebrate the birthday boy or girl. It gives everyone time to arrive, engage in a short activity, have some cake, see some present-opening and call it a day.
Stay Outside the House
Having a party at your home is definitely more cost-effective. But it is also (most definitely) messier. Some parents are OK with the post-party cleanup, but for others, the disarray can be dizzying and is simply not worth the headache. So, have the party at an amusement centre and leave the setup and clean-up to them!
This can also help you manage the headcount if you’re paying per person.
Relevant Reading: A Pox on Loot Bags — I'm Done with Party Favours
Stick With a Theme
A theme can help streamline all your party planning, from choosing colours to picking a cake. Hopefully your child doesn’t pick something too particular (“I want a magic troll Shopkins ocean-themed party, mommy!”). However, when you go with a basic theme such as “glittery sparkles” or “construction trucks,” you can narrow down your choices for décor and accessories. Easy doesn't have to mean boring!
They’re kids. They have each other. And their imaginations. You don’t need to plan every minute of the party from start to finish. Have some loosely made plans and let the party take its course.
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