Your Child's Birthday Party Doesn't Need To Be Expensive
The Big Day
It’s the big day your child has been waiting for all year, that moment when they make it to that next milestone and become: One. Year. Older. Yes, we know that once they become adults, they will probably look at this day with either indifference, aggravation, or even sheer panic when they realize they are now, well, old. For now though, the birthday celebration means everything to them.
This does not mean it has to mean everything to you. Of course, it is important, it’s your kid after all. The kid you were either pregnant with for nine months, or one you laboured over in another way if your child is yours by adoption. All the same, there is no need to think you have to do something super spectacular, just ‘cause it’s your kid’s day.
Now before you think I’m some sort of Scrooge saying ba humbug on your kid’s big day, realize this: Kids remember what you do for them, not what you spend on them. If your kid is turning two, they will probably not remember the clown you brought to their party (unless maybe it was a creepy clown and they’ve had nightmares ever since). They certainly won’t care that you paid $150 to have the clown there.
Time for a disclaimer: I do birthday parties. I mean, I am the entertainment for such parties. I charge the parents $100-$200 for two hours of child happiness. And the crazy thing is, they pay it without batting an eye. Not only that, often there are games, tons of food, decorations, and of course, the goody bags for all the kids. So I would imagine that when it’s all said and done, the party is worth more like $300-$400, or more. The demographic I service is usually kids who are six and under.
So why are parents spending so much on birthday parties? I would assume most of it is peer pressure. Neighbour down the street had the reptile show, so we’ll have to get the petting zoo with pony rides. Don’t fall into this trap. Just because you don’t spend a fortune on your kid’s party, doesn’t mean you care less about your kid. Remember, kids want time, not stuff.
If other parents think you’re less of a parent because you didn’t have a big party, so be it. If they are real friends, they’ll understand, if they complain, find new friends.
The alternative to expensive parties is not cheap parties. Cheap parties is where you try to look like an expensive party, but you make a fool of yourself. How about an investment party? A party where you invest in your child in some way. This doesn’t mean there isn’t fun, food, family and friends, it just means you spend the time honouring the special day of the child, but you don’t run up your credit card in the process. Look online for simple games, bake a cake from scratch, or from a mix, and don’t worry if it doesn’t look like it came from a bakery (the other parents will probably be impressed that you tried!), spend time with your child. Your kid would probably prefer a simple party, and a non-frazzled parent, over you being freaked out about the party being perfect.
This being said, there is nothing wrong with booking things for your party either. Please don’t be the frugal, tightwad parent who has to comment on why you would never spend so much on a party. Maybe the host family is really that filthy rich, or maybe their daughter has been begging for a pony since she could talk, but they live on a postage stamp and can’t own one, so they make her a deal that she can have one for her birthday party only. Maybe the host parents really want someone to entertain the kids while they get some time to have a glass of wine and visit with the other parents who they wouldn’t see if it wasn’t for the party. Maybe the smile on your kid’s face, and the photo-op is worth it.
There is no right or wrong way to do a birthday party, but don’t feel you have to be a Pinterest Mom when it comes to birthday parties.
If you want the Princess to come, book her. If you want a piñata, order it, or make it yourself . If you are really that bad at cooking, get a cake from the grocery store. Just make sure you are doing it because you want to, not because you feel pressured by society. And, if you just want a quiet family dinner at home with your child’s favourite food and a nice cake, it’s your party.