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I am done with birthday parties!

I am done with birthday parties! | Dallas Moms Blog

I am so excited to say that we are officially done with birthday parties at our house! It’s not that we won’t celebrate birthdays, but that I am no longer going to sacrifice my sanity and most of our food budget for the month putting together some kind of elaborate theme experience for my children, who are now 4 and 5 years old. 

Don’t get me wrong, I know that many of my mom friends LOVE putting together a good party. I have friends who have described excitedly creating Pin boards on Pinterest for a birthday party that is still a year away. These are my friends who are creative, love to craft, and are good at it. I am in awe of their special skills. I am not that mom. 

For the first 4 years of my son’s life, I looked with dread toward October, when I would be forced to do something cool. Both my kids’ first birthdays were not bad, because they are basically unable to express many opinions and discovering cake for the first time was just the BEST THING EVER. But I felt like the Creative Mom expectations were already closing in by that 2nd birthday for each of them. By then we had attended some fantastically coordinated parties — activities, decorations, snacks, and favors all along a common theme and color scheme. Live, costumed  characters that traveled to the house. Face painting. Handmade, personalized favors. The birthday parties my friends created were beautiful and amazing, and they made me want to crawl under the covers in my bed and hide until my children turned 18. The mere thought of all that planning is so far out of my comfort and enjoyment zone that I find it difficult to describe.

Another problem we began to encounter with a party was space. At this point in our lives, most of our friends have 3-4 children. Our siblings with children have two kids each (cousins). We love hanging out with our community group of three families, but inviting only our community group, my kids’ cousins, and the grandparents the total comes to 18 children and 16 adults. Even if we invite no friends from school at all, 34 people is more than my house, or even my yard, can handle. My daughter’s birthday is in February, when it is still notoriously cold in Dallas, necessitating an indoor venue. I was looking at renting a venue for hundreds of dollars PLUS decorating, baking, and carting everything over to the venue. Again with the hiding under the covers.

I can’t remember where I read it, but I heard about the idea of gifting experiences for birthdays and loved it! An experience can be anything that the child enjoys. I made a compromise between birthday party and experience with our kids and told them that they could invite 2-3 friends on their experience. At the preschool age, we did have to spend a little more money than we will when they’re older, because the children have to be entertained more actively. For example, my son chose to take 3 friends to LEGOLAND in Grapevine, and my daughter took 3 friends to the American Girl Bistro. It wasn’t too unaffordable in either case, because we had coupons for LEGOLAND and we just did a regular tea time visit with my daughter’s friends, not a birthday party package. At LEGOLAND, we played all morning until the kids got tired, and then we walked over to the mall and I brought out the cupcakes I’d made, which we all ate together. 

I am done with birthday parties - my daughter at American Girl with friends for her birthday.

My daughter with friends at the American Girl Bistro

I am done with birthday parties - my son at LEGOLAND with his friends for his birthday

My son at LEGOLAND in Grapevine with friends for his 5th birthday

The great thing about experiences, to me, is that I don’t have to worry about favors. I have always been torn about favors, as they are typically either a) very time consuming or expensive, or b) if they are cheap, they are not eco-friendly because of the thin plastic and disposable nature. Hopefully, inviting my childrens’ friends along on these experiences is a gift of fun. At the very least, I am offering their parents a fun, free morning or afternoon of entertainment for their children! 

As the kids grow older, the experiences can differ. I could take a few little girls to a ballet at the Eisemann Center in Richardson. I could take the boys to a movie. I am sure that at some point when they are older, we will be asked to go to Six Flags. Maybe my son will want to take his friends to see one of the local sports teams. Every time I read a post about a new local experience by one of my fellow Dallas Moms Blog contributors, I think: potential birthday event!

Far from depriving my children, I hope that this shift away from parties and toward experiences will give them a freedom to explore the metroplex and share one-on-one time with a few good friends. And it frees me up from having to do crafty things. It’s a win-win!

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4 Responses to I am done with birthday parties!

  1. Julie the V. May 21, 2015 at 9:29 am #

    Omg!The advice i needed.these past two days I have been going over and over with things to do for my sons 4th birthday.He has never had a good one.Every year I have tried my best to come up with something and to no avail.Sadly I too don’t have the creative minds of other women.Sure the ideas pop in my head but my hands don’t seem to know just how to realize my thoughts. Any who, reading your post gave me hope in that I love giving an experience rather then the hundreds of dollars that will go into a 3 to 4 hour party with no guarantees. His birthday is in July so even when he starts school getting friend’s to go in the middle of summer will be a hassle.So for now, I think I’ll enjoy him having fun at any cool place we can find.lobe the post! Perfect timing 🙂

  2. katina May 21, 2015 at 10:12 am #

    I’m on this train!

  3. Sally
    Sally May 21, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

    LOVE it.

  4. jes May 21, 2015 at 5:15 pm #

    Haha, love you Jenny! This year I’ve told the girls that we’re doing a joint birthday party, to which they can invite 2-3 friends each. I am one of those moms who DOES love crafting and throwing parties, but I’m also aware that it’s gotten a little out of hand these past couple years, for an age that likely won’t remember all the details and effort that goes into it, LOL. We did experiences as Christmas gifts for cousins, and it’s my favorite type of gift to give! Love that you’re doing it with bday parties!!

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