I’m lucky enough to have three lovely (most of the time) children and between them so far they have notched up 15 birthdays. We love birthdays in our house, they always involve traditions like helium balloons with your new age on and a homemade birthday cake picked out after many hours spent studying the cake books. That’s the good part. The not so good part is the dreaded birthday party and even after 15 of them they still strike fear and horror into me.
The conversation about the next party starts about two weeks after the last one. It peaks and troughs throughout the year with crescendos every time they attend another child’s party. I always divert the eldest two with “we’ll talk about it after Christmas” but then comes January and I have to face planning not one, but two within the same month.
Deciding what to do is always a bit of a seesaw. On the one hand there is the party that you pay other people to do, very expensive in terms of money but very little time and effort needed. On the opposite side is the party at home that is much less expensive but can take days of effort to prepare for. As a working Mum of three kids my time is as precious as my money! Each year I decide I’m only going to do something small at home and each year it creeps into something bigger at an outside venue.
There are probably many parents who say both approaches are ridiculously over the top and they are right but we all keep doing it. Just to give you an idea, this year the parties within my children’s classes at school have included: the spy mission centre, several disco’s, a magician, the cinema, the snow dome, weird science, gymnastics, bowling, play centres and the local farm park. They haven’t been to a single party at someone’s house.
That said, I don’t feel that there is peer pressure or judgement from other parents, I more feel the weight of expectation from the children, mine and their friends. It’s not their fault, they’ve got used to attending great parties and the bar gets raised every time they do something new. As parents we’ve created the birthday party monster.
Things are getting out of hand so this year I’m going to lead the charge for change. I’m going to be brave and throw all the kids parties in the next twelve months AT HOME! There, I’ve said it. I’m going to allow marauding kids into my home for disco dancing, game playing and sticky party food. I will survive this and as a reward I’m going to do is BAN party bags. I’m leading the charge for no more bags of rubbish toys and cheap sweets. I don’t mind sending our guests home with something but how much nicer a cute homemade cupcake will be!
If I can convince you to join me in the great party at home revolution try these websites for some tips and ideas.