Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Honestly, I am not a party pooper.

Jeepers... I think this is my most opinionated post, to date. But, I am really just searching for answers in my own parenting journey.

This parenting thing is an ongoing learning experience. Some may view me as a seasoned mother of three children. However, every single day I try to add spice after spice until the concoction I have cooked up is scrumptiously perfect.

These spices come from a variety of sources: my own upbringing, many parenting books, reading other parenting blogs, watching other parents with their children, and simple trial and error. I take it all in silently and develop my own recipe with hopes of success. How do I want to parent my children?

What is the latest parenting issue that has been consuming me of late?

I am struggling with celebrating parties. When is enough, enough?

Jay is planning his 6th birthday party for July. He is overly excited, and rightfully so, at the thought of celebrating and receiving presents. As parents, we very rarely, if ever, purchase toys for our children outside of Christmas and their birthdays. He is planning his guest list, designing his invites, and preparing his goodie bags with anticipation of the big day. We are all very excited to celebrate.

"Hey, handsome. How about next year instead of a big party, we can do something extra special like front row tickets to the baseball game? Or a boat ride out on the lake and some fishing?" I asked him yesterday. I remembered that my aunt asked her three school aged children if they preferred a party or a dinner and some cash, each year on their birthdays.

"Sweeeeeeeeet!!!!!" He exclaimed.

There you have it. Phew. A new tradition was born yesterday. When an OHmommy child enters elementary school there will be no more HUGE extravagant birthday party celebrations. Instead we will celebrate their birthdays with special memories. A special train ride to Philly to see a ballpark when they are 7.... awesome. A limo ride through the city when they are 10... awesome. A sleep over with two friends at a hotel for movies and swimming when they are 12... awesome. One special night with close friends to celebrate their birthdays... so perfect.

Whatever happened to cup cakes in the park? Or pin the tale on the donkey in your basement? I can't keep up with the Jones anymore. Besides.... I do not want to be the Jones anyways.

When Lola turned four in March, I took her to celebrate her birthday at a nail salon. It was her choice and a special treat. Honest, to God, she was much happier while getting her nails done with Mommy then at her own extravagant princess party a week later.

Don't get me wrong. I am not a party pooper. Honestly, I'm not. Quite the opposite. I love a good party. During this summer alone we will host a handful of parties. And in October, we have one heck of a huge party for Halloween, where our house is filled at least 50 human bodies. It is our tradition. It is super important for me to show my children that we fill our house with happiness and celebration. I love having parties for no reason, then just to get together.

The question is: when is enough, enough?

Do we have to celebrate every milestone with a party?

Every single milestone? Seriously?

At Jay's preschool graduation he approached me, during the school's celebration, and asked, "What will you buy me for graduating?" My jaw dropped. I was speechless. He told me that his friends were discussing what was purchased for them. We had a very long talk that night, it began, "I am not like other mothers and we are not like other families." He went to bed with a huge grin on his face, after my parenting "lecture."

Last month, at preschool pick-up, I was talking to a mother (the mother of the son that was bitten by our puppy) about her daughter's Holy Communion. They celebrated the very special occasion with a fancy dinner at a posh restaurant with their very close family. "How classy!" I exclaimed. A celebration with loved ones.

It made me think about my own choices of celebration in my life. All three of my children had special baptism celebrations at intimate dinners in fancy restaurants. My own wedding was filled with less than 100 people at a beautiful classy club overlooking the serene Lake Michigan. It exuded class, for it was intimate and beautiful and we celebrated with family and close friends.

You see, it all comes full circle... this parenting thing.

What do I want for my children? I want to fill their lives with love, happiness, and confidence. I want so much for them to realize they are special without spoiling them. Being confident in who they are, does not mean bragging about milestones. Being happy, does not mean counting your presents but instead your blessings. Being loved, means you are surrounded by people whom truly love you.

Don't get me wrong. I want to celebrate their milestones. I will be incredibly proud of them. I want to make memories. Just not sure if I have to have a party each time. A nice dinner perhaps. Where do we as parents, draw the line?

Dentistry is one of the top leading professions to be passed down from generation to generation. Hypothetically, if all three of my children follow in daddy's foot steps does that mean I will be planning 9 graduation parties? High School. College. And Dental School. Times three? Am, I doing the math right????? Eeekkkk...

When is enough, enough? I am searching for answers here. Honestly, I am not a party pooper. I love to party. Just a little confused on when to throw them, I guess.

How many birthdays are we supposed to celebrate with parties? How many parties are we supposed to have? Where are we supposed to draw the line?

Any seasoned mothers have recipes of success? Please share.

102classy comments:

the MomBabe said...

I can't ever decide so instead I do nothing. It's working out quite well.

Of course, on their actual birthday I make their favorite dinner and a cake and such, but if you don't live in this house, you're not invited....

Eve Grey said...

I could not agree with you more! I told my daughter next year she can choose any outing she wants & bring one friend. She was thrilled with this. Honestly, as they get older they don't have 10 friends they want to invite anyway. And I cannot stand the amount of presents. I don't think we're doing our kids any favours by celebrating graduation from kindergarten. All these celebrations just make nothing special. OMG, i could write a novella about this! Over & out!

Chelsea said...

It sounds like you have a great philosophy on this. I love that attitude. When I was growing up, we had parties for just the even-number years. I've known other families that have parties for just the "big" birthdays (8, 12, 16, I think). Whatever makes those big depends on the family or culture, I guess.

Mr Lady said...

I wake my kids up with cake. On their actual birthdays, we go wherever they want for dinner. On April 1st, the day inbetween their birthdays, they get to invite their closest friends (about 3 each, lots of mutual friends) over for a "Party" , party meaning movie night or sleepover. That's it. At 10, they get a grandeous birthday. Repeat at either 16 or 18, we haven't decided yet. That's it. We get McDonald's ice cream after big baseball games and Dairy Queen after school performances. That's as grand as we get.

No reasonable person celebrates every stinking event. It's too much and it just teaches them to expect. Even Christmas is getting smaller and smaller (one big gift, a few little) and once they learn the truth about santa, that will get even smaller.

Hope that helps! You're totally on the right track!

momof3crazykids said...

This might be long...
My children are 16, 10 and 5. So as you can see my oldest was an only child for 6 years, therefore received a funfilled birthday each year with family and friends. I too love parties and always seem to go overboard. I also love to make cakes to go along with the theme of the birthday.
Then I had my daughter, which I didn't want to feel left out from having great parties and everyone was doing them at "great" places. So there have been quite a few not so time consumming but my husband's hard earned money spent on b-day parties. Well along came my youngest. Since the other two had there "funfilled" b-days he couldn't be left out. I've done a jungle party and strung my house with vines I made out of brown package paper and green construction paper, and a pirate party -the invites were a treasure map made in PSE 6 rolled into a emptied water bottle filled with some sand and gold coins-with ships I made out of boxes with posterboard sails. Some(my SILs) think I just try to be the best at parties, but that is not it, I love doing them, putting them together and watching the kids have fun. Though great fun is had by all there was 18 children in my home for my son turning 5 this year. What was I thinking?
I love your idea though... being done with big parties as they head into elementary school. Can I do that starting with my last child?
Our ideas for the parties after 10 were; hockey game, movie, bowling, dave and busters with a friend or two and that has worked for my son and this next year will start for my daughter.
I guess I wish I would have done simplier parties, you live and learn.
I really like your idea!
As for the parties for the 9 graduations. I say yes to the High School. That's a party to be had. But the others, a dinner at a great restaurant and a classy gift would be nice.

Jeremy Neal said...

We celebrate birthdays and Christmas big time, but events in between are celebrated by (extended) family dinners only. I like your points of moderation - it makes things more special when you do celebrate.

Laski said...

Clearly I am not a seasoned parent, but I am a seasoned observer.

My brother and sister-in-law celebrate every birthday. Sometimes, it includes a keg. Not kidding.

I have another family member who has outrageous themes for every party for each of her four children.

We live far enough away that we seldom attend said parties (much to their dismay). We send a nice card and a small gift or gift card.

I firmly believe that many of these celebrations are more about the parents than the children. I don't know if it is a chance for them to showcase their fabulous parenting skills, their high class connections, or maybe their new tile and marble counter tops in the kitchen.

I'm with you . . . it is all about creating special moments that are like little bookmarks that stay firmly ensconced in your child's memory. The parties come and go. They're big. They're grand. They're EXPENSIVE. But, those one-on-one moments--sharing nachos at a game, getting nails painted with mommy, a road trip with the family--those last forever.

Such a long comment---you just touched on something that I feel rather strongly about.

You so get it, OH Mommy . . . thank you for that.

the mama bird diaries said...

Oh my.. these parties can become quite the affair. By the time you include everyone you "think" you are suppose to invite, it's huge, it's expensive and it's ridiculous.

Definitely low key brings more happiness for my family.

Pamela said...

Isn't parenting an enormous tight rope walk? I think you're doing quite well--most people don't even examine their actions the way you're doing, so that tells me you're light years ahead of many.

With four children, I've learned that less is more. I've been trying to work in a little service to others in their birthdays. This works better as the child gets older---with the younger ones not so much.

Thanks for visiting my blog :)

Dawn said...

There really isn't a right or wrong answer here, as you already know. I look back on my childhood, and I loved having a birthday bash with my friends. However, after age 7 or so that got old, and I liked just doing something with a few close pals. Each child is different. My daughter would probably always pick a party, but my son would probably eat up going to a ball game. As for gifts for preschool or kindergarten graduation, give me a break! My daughter just graduated from kindergarten, and we went out for pizza afterwards with my mom. Family time is important. Gifts are not. However, I also feel memories are important, and you never want your kids to look back and think "Mom and Dad wouldn't let us...." Oh, I could go on and on. ;-) Basically, my opinion is celebrate everything, but do so in a way that creates wonderful memories and doesn't break the bank.

Cheri said...

I totally think about this stuff. Pop over to Jamie's blog today she's at "choosing my own . . ." on my blogroll if you haven't been before. She posted about a four-year-old party and much discussion followed.

Anyway, I think we each have our own answers. I've tended to have the bigger parties at some location or other when they are little. But now I'm leaning toward less is more. Just a few kids in the backyard or going on a special family outing is nice. I think you're on the right track.

just jamie said...

Yup, read my mind. Did you read my post yesterday? (wink)

I have a LOT to say on it, but the truth is we will all do what we are comfortable with. And for our family, close friends and family and a simple celebration is enough.

Immoral Matriarch said...

My kids are little. :( I dunno yet!

Anonymous said...

I'm not a mom yet, but I am an aunt. My soon to be 1 year old niece will be getting a HUGE party (rented hall, flying in family from across the country, etc). Personally I find it absolutely ridiculous. Especially for a 1 year old! These parents believe in spoiling for big occasions. My hubby and I do not.

I think you are right on the money! (ha, pun not intended but it worked out so well.....)

Cecily R said...

We do friend birthdays on the odd years starting at five. They still stress me out.

The even birthdays are spent with family and those are my favorites.

Frankly, I like celebrating for no reason. A special something just because its Wednesday just appeals to me more than making a big deal over milestones. I don't know why. :)

Krystyn said...

I think enough is enough when you say it is. Every family is different.

I'm not a big party or celebration person. I think honoring Jay on his birthday with something he wants is perfect.

I think we are too quick to celebrate things and give presents. But, that's just me (and I'm not a seasoned mother). It's frustrating to see kids that think they are entitled because of something they did, or another year gained.

Danielle said...

HI! I am new here. Great post. My little one is only 8 1/2 months so I can't speak from experience. And I was born on New Year's day so my mom always had a party for me- a family party that is. I am so not about keeping up with anyone. I think I would prefer a small family get together. Then again I ran of to Mexico to get married because the idea of a huge party and planning a wedding was not my idea of fun. A week in Mexico with 20 family members= heaven. I love your idea of a special tradition like going to a ball game. In the end it will be so much more meaningful.

Irene said...

Yup, add me to the list of people who wholeheartedly agree. We have a very big immediate family. Just inviting the grandparents and aunts and uncles makes for a party of at least 30 people. Last year we told my 6 yo we would take her to Chuck E Cheese with her 3 closest cousins (the others are older). But I think the huge parties every single year is out of control.

In regards to graduation? We always thought a HS graduation party was enough. All the other graduations are great, and are exciting, but don't necessarily warrant a party. Luckily, most of our friends/family agree and don't have them either.

Kimber said...

I don't know how seasoned I am....and we just had a party the other day (as you know) but I am totally 100% with you on this. Kate's b-day was plastic kiddie pools in the backyard/ i think families have gone too far and kids are going to have HUGE expectations when they grow up and they will ultimately be disappointed. I HATE goodie bags. I despise when a child says'''where'e the goodie bag. I have even done parties without them on purpose. I think it sends the wrong message about a celebration. For Kate's recent party each kid got a watering can that my friend and I personalized with paint pens.

We do not do a party every year. Startiong at about 7 weh do exactly what you are doing but maybe even more low key. For 8 WIll went to an Astros Game with Dad and Harry and his best friend, Dad and his brother. For 9, his best friend and he went fishing at his Aunt's pond and had fried chicken (their request) and cake.

Now, my younger son has December b-day but has always wanted a traditional backyard summer party with kickball, water balloons, and baseball game. So, this year he asked if he could skip his December celebration (we"ll still have a lil family dinner and sing) and have a party this summer. I am having trouble deciding what to do.

We also only buy toys/gifts on b-days and Christmas and for Will's communion we went out for a beautiful and classy brunch with family.

I don't worry about the Joneses and even more and more less as I get older. But someday I think the Joneses will wish they were us!


Sorry for the long reply..I guess you hit a nerve because eI think the problem goes WAY deeper and parents are priming their kids to be brats.

Keri said...

Having only one sibling as my family (parents were only children), i like to celebrate my daughter's birthday each year with a cookout party with all her faux aunties and uncles. This year is her 3rd b-day and Scooby Doo is who she wanted to come to the party. So the 'mystery machine' is gonna be the cake.
I'm not sure what we will do yet when she get to school age... but i'm thinking i'll still have some type of fun party because my parents were antisocial and i feel i missed out on some fun get togethers.
And who doesn't love a good classy party.

Stella said...

I'm not a seasoned mom by any stretch of the imagination. We do parties a lot. We celebrate birthdays with parties. We celebrate baptisms with parties. We just enjoy celebrating. As a child I can remember having big birthday parties probably up until 10 but when I say big it was mainly family. Usually for friends I would have a few sleep over and that was it. I was not one of those girls who had a sweet 16 that resembled a wedding. I went to many but I never wanted that. I think, again, I had a few friends sleep over. The birthday I probably remember the most, besides my 21st, was my 18th. My parents took me and one of my closest friends at the time into NYC. We saw Les Miserables and then had dinner at Windows on the World at the top of the World Trade Center. It was incredible.
I think it depends on who you are as a family. With us, it's hard to have a small aunts and uncles on one side number more than 60. Everything is a celebration for us and it's usually with a party.

Lisa said...

I love the smaller parties--sadly my oldest is queen social butterfly and her 'small' list is 12 girls. She wants to do a limo to the Jonas Brothers concert for her tenth birthday--I told her we could do that with 3 friends and she was heartbroken. It's because she likes all of them. My younger girl actually does better with a small party--we had an afternoon tea at very nice Big D hotel with three friends and she LOVED it :)

I think the whole graduating pre-school, Kindergarden etc. thing is a little silly----we end the school year the same way with all of them--out to lunch and watching a movie with friends that night. We will have the real party when the graduate high school/college etc.

kim-d said...

As I first told you when I came out of lurkerdom a couple of weeks ago, I have been reading your blog for a long time. One of the things that I love so much is that, through your blog I can FEEL how much you love your children, and I love the way you parent. I think your children sound lovely, and I think YOU absolutely know what is best for your children and your family--so go with your Mommy instinct everytime! And just so you know--I will be 52 in September and my most vivid birthday memory was my 6th birthday and going out for a very fancy dinner with my Mom, where she had arranged for the piano player to play Happy Birthday to me, and a beautifully wrapped package containing my first watch was delivered with my birthday cake dessert. Just me and my Mom. My most cherished birthday ever :)!

Jessica said...

Hhmmm I am realy conflicted on this one. It is VERY important to me to "make memories." Although my husband argued that our son would never remember his 1st birthday...we had to celebrate. I took pictures. I want to sit down with him in 20 years and reflect back on pictures of all of his celebrations. I def. agree and don't think everything has to be a fiasco, present filled, disco ball spinning craziness...BUT I think whether it is family or friends...big or small it is what is important to you. Maybe next year we will decorate our house from top to bottom, cram balloons in every corner of the kitchen and eat cake for breakfast. Maybe the year after we decide to host the big party at a local kidszone. I think the important thing is (as you mentioned) to not Keep up with the Jones' but to keep up with the memories you want to make. Some years that may be 30 kids running through your yard and other years it is the 5 of you camping in the basement eating popcorn. I am not a seasoned mother but I try and think of what was special to me growing up. It was the "thought" and "time" that I remember about birthdays. Jay will remember the time and excitement of goodie bag crafting and choosing his cake flavor...whether it is important to him this year to have 5 or 50 that I think has to be important to him in the moment.

This all being said. I run a non-profit that benefits children. We get almost daily requests to partner with us for a child's birthday. Little girls have CHARI'TEAS' or the theme is a Pajama Party (we provide night time comforts to children in shelter situations) or sometimes no theme at all. BUT in lieu of gifts, children bring items that get donated to our cause. I think it is so fabulous, so selfless, and I want to hug each of these children that want to celebrate and help others. Just a thought.

Indy said...

Wow. People have a lot to say. I can't even read all of these comments.

I say you do what's right for your family. Whavever feels right at the time.

MommyTime said...

Growing up, it was our tradition that we got to choose the menu for both breakfast AND dinner in our house on our actual birthday (only rule was there did have to be some vegetable at dinner). Some years, we also had a cake that night when we opened presents. And that was big festivities. Some years, we had a party -- a few girlfriends over for sleepover, for example. In which case, the birthday cake would be the night of the party. We would NOT have two cakes, one for family night and one for party night.

For my own kids, I envision doing parties while they are small and care (say, ages, 3-6) -- but I've already put my foot down to resist the $300 birthday at rented destination kind of party. We have parties at home -- making giant rocket ships out of boxes to play in perhaps. Or having snowman contests (Son's birthday is in Jan). I don't object to parties -- but I want them to be small, social, and fun, about the friendship not the gifts.

Stephanie said...

I can't speak from my mothering experience, only my childhood experiences. Birthdays were always a big deal, so I had a party until I was like...17 maybe? My in-laws always let their kiddos pick some friends to have over and they would cook everyone dinner (when they were teenagers, they did parties until they were about 10 or so). I don't think there's anything wrong with parties and the HUGE milestones, like high school graduation. But I loved your idea of being able to take Jay to a baseball game next year. For me, as an only child stuff like that was never any fun because I had no siblings. Maybe allow him to invite 1 or 2 of his closest friends with him and make it extra special. My Hubby has the best memories of playing with his guy friends and doing things with them. He had three sisters and so he always appreciated the guy time.

Love your post. I'm with you 100%!

Anonymous said...

The party thing, it's tricky. We also don't buy toys unless it's a bday or Christmas. However-for each and every bday we go over the top, party wise-but when they were old enough to understand, we explained that your choice is a large over the top party or a large gift of the money equivalent. I thought I was avoiding spoiled kid syndrome, I haven't.

And like my sister says, being B&V doesn't suck. They will always have a lot in general(nice house, nice cars, activities, general extravagances, etc) that neither Tony or I had. Maybe that should be enough?

Marmarbug said...

Well currently with one kid I haven't gotten into the 3 or more birthday parties a year deal.
We had a huge birthday party for Bean's first birthday. I was exhausted, he was exhausted. Then I realized I was going in the wrong direction.
Then he turned 2. We went to Chuck E. cheese with a few family memebers and friends.
Same with three.
As he gets older I am planning on having smaller parties. Things just get so expensive and think when kids have the big lavish parties that they get overwhelmed and honestly it is more for the parents to show off.
Not my cup of tea.
When I was younger I had smaller parties and around 11 I gave them up.
So I think we will go smaller and I think your idea for outings is a smart idea!!!
Your not a party pooper you are just a smart mom!

Karen said...

We do not celebrate in big ways very often. We do birthday parties every other year. In the off years we get together with family and have cake and gifts. This year for my daughter's big 13th she had one friend over and I took them to the mall for the day. I offered to take them to the movies but my daughter wanted to rent a movie so that her brothers could watch it, too. It nearly made me cry - she's so thoughtful!

Our oldest son doesn't enjoy large parties so every year we do the creative celebrations - the family goes to an amusement park for his birthday. We go camping together. We do things as a family for his birthday because that's what he loves best.

And they never get gifts for graduations or other events.

Stephanie said...

I'm currently only a monther to one child who happens to be only 15 months old. For her 1st birthday we had a party consisting of just family for her. Because it was all the people special and important to her. As she gets older, I will have to see where it goes. I have not yet had to decide when enough is enough.

But I think only you know when enough is enough for your family. And letting the children decide when they are old enough seems like a pretty good idea - they seem to be more focused on activities than the parties.

moooooog35 said...

I stopped giving parties to my kids when I realized that the cops frowned on having strippers show up at Chuck E. Cheese.

Talk about party poopers.

Aimee said...


My daughter lost a tooth the other day, and then asked me what kind of present she's going to get for LOSING A TOOTH!!! Ughhh!!!

LunaNik said...

Can't really answer this one cuz my kiddos are so young and so far we have only had one party for them.

However, having a party for their bdays every year while they're young appeals to me personally simply because then they get the stuff that I cannot afford to get them. Last year, everyone brought a dish to contribute to the food table so I only paid for decorations and cake, the girls got a ton of toys and clothing which they needed, and I got to keep the leftovers which fed us for another week and a half. Bonus!

Tracey said...

You know, I haven't really met the Joneses... No one in my area really goes overboard with parties. Well, I'm sure a few do, but the norm is to just have a backyard picnic or pin the tail on the donkey. That's all I've ever done for parties. This is the first year that Justin got to have a location party. We had 3 friends at a bowling alley. Perfect.

Jill said...

Regardless of whether or not we have a party, we have a strict "NO PRESENT" rule... for anyone except the grandparents.

This year the 5 year old had a bowling party for the kids in her preschool class.

The 3 year old hasn't had a friend party yet.

OHmommy said...

Thanks everyone.

I really like the idea of a no present party.

No presents.

What do you write on the invites? "NO PRESENTS POLICY" ??????? What would one write?

renatamic said...

since i am a seasoned non-mommy (which means i'm very good at not being a mommy??)...i'll give you my opinion (WHICH I LOVE TO GIVE)...
i was just invited to a party last summer celebrating someone's doctorate degree. SERIOUSLY!! so, at ths point i have gone to a graduation party for 4 different graduation party for this person within 8 years (and have only knows her for 10)...high school, bachelors, masters and then doctorate. at this last one (doctorate) a bunch of us also had the conversation "when is enough, enough?" half said high school, the other said undergrad. heated debate followed.

my bro is going to graduate with his MBA in the spring. we will be celebrating with brunch at charlie trotters. no gifts will be exchanged...although i will give him a card and i'm sure i will spend at least 30 minutes making sure it is the best card and most appropriate for the occasion.

btw - i'm all for parties!! LOVE THEM!! but do think that the 'no reason' parties are the best. i myself follow the "no gifts" rule when inviting people to my shindigs!!

lattemommy said...

I'm a couple of years behind you on the parenting train, but I've been anticipating this issue for a while now. First and second birthdays were family only. The Princess' 3rd birthday saw her invite 3 friends, one for each year. I think that's a good policy to keep the numbers down to a reasonable level.

Once they're older, I want them to have parties, but they will be small and involve an "event" of some sort. For example, I can envision taking my daughter and one friend (so she has someone to giggle about it with) on a beluga whale encounter at the aquarium. That kind of thing. I agree about trying to make birthdays memorable.

My other problem with birthdays is that both my kids' birthdays fall close to Christmas, and it's turning into a 6-week present fiesta instead of separate celebrations. I don't like that feeling, and I'm going to have to work to keep that from happening.

*sorry for writing a novel on your blog!*

Ashlee said...

What a great question. Most of my children's bday parties have been with just family. And honestly, they are just as fabulous as the few friend parties my son has had. Parties take a lot of work. Even the simple kind I throw {which only includes pin the tail on the donkey and a pinata because kids don't care anyway}
I had a few friend parties growing up, but the one I remember most is when my family went to a classy hotel to stay for the night and we watched movies and played there. It was fabulous
As far as the no presents policy....I've just put it on the invites. "No presents please"
Good luck with your quest for finding that line! :0)

krissy said...

We switch year to year. If Diva had a party one year, the next year is something special for the family. One time we took a trip to Orlando and this year we went to watch our beloved Packers play and she was able to bring along her very close cousin. She loved it and doesn't miss the birthday parties at all.

I am with you....I have one spoiling could be quite easy. But I don't want the spoiled brat who has it all. I want the kid who is fun, filled with laughter and life. That is what my goal is. Oh, and not to screw her up too bad.

Marmarbug said...

Oh and I tagged you for a meme! Totally optional but I figure since I just "met" you it would be nice to get to know you!

Wendi said...

"Being confident in who they are, does not mean bragging about milestones. Being happy, does not mean counting your presents but instead your blessings. Being loved, means you are surrounded by people whom truly love you."

You already have your answers.
You. get. it.

Kim said...

I am not seasoned, but I have been around the block a bit with other parties.

I will be having ONE last party at my house this Sunday celebrating my sons first birthday. It will include only close friends and family.

I made the decision after planning this party that there will be no more parties at my house. Why? Because of the excitement I saw in my sons eyes when I took him to NYC this weekend. He was filled with excitement, and it filled my heart with joy to create this memory with him.

I agree with you, keep it special and intimate.


Kathryn said...

I am so sensative to this issue. I never want my children to feel they are entitled to gifts from everyone. For now we are celebrating their birthdays with just our family and the grandparents. We still make the day important, fun, and a big deal. As they get a bit older they will each have two or three parties with friends. That will make them even more special and memorable.
My mom threw 3 BIG birthday parties for me and I remember everyone as incredible. We did not get a huge birthday party every year growing up. But we did get a beautiful cake made by mom, a few gifts (not huge or expensive gifts either), and a special dinner that we picked. That made our day special enough.

I think so many people over-do it these days. It seems kind of nuts to me. And I think Laskigal is right when she said it seems that it is more for the parents than the kids.

Good & Crazy said...

I recently posted exactly this topic.

We only hold 'friend' bday parties every other year(very simple at home affairs), and 'family' ones on the off years(the kid chooses where we go). We refuse gifts from others unless they are handmade (telling them we will donate to charity any gifts given otherwise).

When a close friend has a party, instead of gifts we take the friend out for a snowcone, or slurpee, or even to the dollar theater, I figure time spent together is worth more than a $10 plastic gizmo.

CC said...

"Dentistry is one of the top leading professions to be passed down from generation to generation. "

I didn't know that! I am the child of a dentist. My uncle is a dentist as well. NONE of us became dentists!! Although my mom tried.....

My SIL has 4 kids and they only celebrate every other year.

For us, with only 2 kids, I have a party each year. It's always been a potluck or just cake party at our home. Luckily, the kids have summer birthdays.

Oh, and the 1st was our biggest party because it was also a celebration that our children were finally HOME and we wanted to honor Korean tradition of having a big 1st birthday bash! But still, it was a potluck in our carport!

Kellan said...

I am seriously getting to be a party pooper! I've been doing these parties/celebrations/ceremonial things for 16 years and ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. I try to cut back every year and somehow get tricked into doing the BIG thing once again.

Little Billy graduated from 5th grade (NOT MEDICAL SCHOOL) this morning and had his dad drive him, drop him off in front of the school in my husbands Corvetter - to mark the occasion. He hasn't asked for his graduation gift yet - but I full expect it when he gets home!!

Great post OHMommy - see you later - Kellan

Stinky John Jones said...

When you figure it out, let me know.

My kids are only 2 and 4, so we have had 6 birthdays....but each one gets bigger and bigger.
I think I feel the push from my Mom who enjoys planning BIG parties.

This year, she wants my four year old to have a party at the zoo...complete with pony rides.

So when you figure it out...pass it along please!

Mary said...

I didn't read all the other comments, so I'm sure someone has already suggested this stuff.

Either "your gift is your presence" or something like that. Or "Bring a gift to donate to XXXXX." Or a book for the library ect...

This year we did a party at home for son. There were 8 kids plus my 2, and we had pizza, cake, and water games. I think all the kids had a blast and it was more enjoyable than going some where and spending mass amounts of money.

But then in 2 weeks we'll have Girl's party at an indoor park. And there are 25 kids invited. But she's still in preschool and blah blah blah I could make up lots of excuses for why we're doing it...

It'll be interesting to see which is/was smoother and more enjoyable for us adults, and for the kids as well.

mamachristina said...

I think the key here is to ensure that your child feels your approval and and love. I don't think it even has to be the same for each child as long as it is in a way that they feel special and not lacking in that dept. we did 1 year bday parties and we haven't done another one since, we do special things that interest our children with in a tight budget so they don't get the idea that mucho bucks is what means love, but that quality time in they're interests is what love is. Hope this makes sense.

Steph said...

After 5 no more parities I too can't keep up with the Jones nor do I want to, I mean one person I know had a freaking petting zoo in her yard for her sons 3rd birthday how the heck do you top that??? Personally I am all about the special moments that they choose it means more. Plus what kids needs all those toys??? :) Now that being said I am having an underwear party for my soon to be 4 year old if he goes 10 days without pee or poop in the pull up but that will be just the family :)

GoMommy said...

It's hard keeping up with the Jones's. So we don't. We usually have the boys birthdays at home with a few of their friends. This year we are going to let them invite 1 or 2 friends for something fun- like bowling or jump for fun, pizza, cake and ice cream. I'm a firm believer in keeping it simple.

Sandy C. said...

I'm all about small, intimate gatherings. Our wedding had 35 guests, daughters 1st + 2nd birthday had less than 15. I find that when the crowd is too large, it's hard to get a chance to enjoy anything yourself.

I think you've made a great choice in offering alternatives to throwing a big bash. Certainly not every milestone needs a huge celebration, just as long as the person and day feels special. A day planned out especially for a child is a wonderful idea :)

Crystal D said...

I love the idea of a special event over a party. I have a vision of us mixing party years and special event years. My girls have only celebrated their birthday's with family so far. But we have a pretty big family. I would like to skip out on those big parties and just do something special. I am sure some people would be disappointed, but would get over it. The children, I don't think they would be among the disappointed.

chichimama said...

We have always done parties at home, with a max on ten kids and no entertainment beyond musical chairs and pin the tail on "something." Oh, I did a pinata one year. big mistake.

This year C chose to take his two best buds to the movies and ice cream. A had her two best gal pals over for pillowcase making and pizza/ice cream right before bed (their parents LOVED me I tell you).

For C's preschool graduation last year we went out to ice cream. Apparently we celebrate with ice cream in this family.

But we do throw a massive New Years party every year, and generally a not quite so big BBQ in the summer. And we are big believers in the Groundhog Day party and the Kentucky Derby party.

Dziadek said...

My tez nie dajemy prezenty dla Starszych na Boze Narodzenie-tylko dzieci i emeryci dostaja.

Najlepeij,zeby cala grupa -"przyjaciol"-friends-wymyslila ze np.
zbieraja pieniadze na"build small school in Mali or Sengal or Mexico
or Cleavland

Wszyscy,na wszystkich imprezach in np 2009- zbieraja na jeden cel
"only one project in 2009"
W Invitation napisaac
"briNg $20.-$50dol dol donation FOR OUR 2009 PROCjECT"

Co to da
-integracje Was
-dobry przyklad dla dzieci
Co nie da
-zepsuje troche business Toys are us or "itp"

Nie dawac zadnej "Charity Organization"-sami wymyslcie i sami dajcie
Caluje tata

April said...

Yep, I'm trying to be done with it all, too. It's gotten entirely out of control, and is completely stressful. Hopefully, my girls will be just as understand as your childen. Although, I doubt it!

Life As I Know It said...

We only buy gifts on birthdays and Christmas too...and I had the same conversation with my 6 year old. How about from now on we invite 2 friends to a movie or dinner or bowling. No more big parties!

Beth said...

I hate having big parties, they stress me out, I don't get to enjoy people or the birthday boy, so I avoid them but I have had birthday 'gatherings'. No food (just cake and drinks), no presents, just after naps, home for dinner (the guests) and it's turned out great. I like to call them 'Happy Birthday Hours'.

I'm rolling with it as they get older. I'm not 'seasoned' yet :)

Huckdoll said...

I'm not a seasoned mother at all, but starting this September when the girls turn three, we're doing small and intimate.

For the past two years we've done major parties that took months to plan for and days to recover from...and it was lost of them.

Personally, I prefer intimate dinners out with close family and friends for my own celebrations, whether it be birthdays, graduations, etc.

Your Halloween party sounds fantastic!!

Jennifer, Playgroups Are No Place For Children said...

You put into words what I've been trying to write myself. I, too, think that parties can get out of hand FAST.

I'm already worried about how my son is going to feel when we can't have a petting zoo/clown/face painting/Justin Timberlake for his upcoming parties when it seems like everyone else goes so over the top.

I remember hot dogs and pin the tail on the donkey, maybe a skating party.

Bravo to making a new tradition...I think it sounds perfect.

Beth from the Funny Farm said...

All my children have had a birthday celebration in elementary school. We are done with parties until 16. Amen.

A birthday party is not a given here... our family will celebrate it though.

Nap Warden said...

My kiddos are two, and one...We just do fun family gatherings for Birthdays. Boy, we have been to some crazy toddler parties where the parents actually hired a band! Can you imagine a band for two year olds!?! I think you are on the right track, hopefully so am I:)

Tara Smith said...

OH. MY. GOSH. Thank you for posting this. I was beginning to think no one shared my philosophy of buying toys and big gifts only for birthdays and Christmas. They get enough toys on those two occasions to last the entire year!

I wholeheartedly agree that we celebrate TOO much. For us, it's to avoid any hurt feelings. My husband and I both have large extended families and it is just SUCH a headache trying to make sure EVERYone is invited. So much so, that I started having two smaller parties instead of one large one.

I love your idea of doing some special something to commemorate the day instead of a huge party. It just isn't necessary.

I'm trying to hard to raise level-headed, wise children instead of the spoiled brats we so often encounter.

Jillian said...

Gotta tell ya, it sucks always trying to keep up with the Jones here. Someone is always trying to one up the other. What ever happened to having a few people over to watch a movie and pizza or swim? When did it become a Broadway production?

My one son's friend had a full Vegas style birthday complete with red carpet, dealers, the actual tables, chips the whole shebang. Bullshit. Makes me look bad. My kids wonder why don't I have that. I have to explain to them that that is not real life, but it's hard and instead makes me look poor (which we're not). Just smart.

Sometimes it's the small things that mean the most anyway. It's your job to continue to teach appreciation and moderation. It will fare them well later in life.

You're a great mom though so I'm pretty sure that's not going to be a problem.

Jolyn said...

I don't have time to read through all the comments, but I think you're spot-on. Hosting parties that brings in gifts for each and every event (yes, even birthdays) I think gives them an expectation of entitlement and also helps to make them into materialistic American consumers. We have moved a lot and it's often right before my son's birthday in September. Last Fall, for instance, right after we moved to Ohio, for his birthday we all went to the Acquarium in Cincinnati as a family -- he invited one friend that he had made in his two weeks of school. It was a great time -- NOT cheap, but not all about opening material gifts, either. Making it about the experience will give them life-long memories. Who even remembers what they got for their birthday last year?

Laura said...

Right now I am all about the birthdays...but, we are just reaching the age where the boys will soon have different friends...not sure what I will do...maybe a small friends party and a small family party.

Your post sure got me thinking.

david mcmahon said...

Now is the time for all good bloggers to come to the aid of the party!

Eve Grey said...

OHMommy, just skimming through these responses. Love them. You could say "Bring just yourself, no presents please!" or you could ask people to consider donating $10.00 on their chidlren's behalf to a local charity OR you could ask each person to bring $5.00 toward a special gift. My son went to one & they asked each person to bring $5.00 to contribute towards a turtle & all the paraphernalia.
Lots of great ideas.

Tonya said...

I agree this parenting gig is HARD but oh so worth it! Hubby and I decided that we are going to be doing all the kids parties together at the same time. Less stress!

THopgood said...

I couldn't agree more. It's almost like it's a competition between parents and every year someone is uping the ante. All three of my kids have birthdays right around the Christmas holidays; one the end of November, one the beginning of December, and one the beginning of February. We host three Christmas parties in December...Christmas day is at my house, and we also have a big New Year's party. So celebrating 3 birthdays with huge parties is out of the question. I decided when my daughter was born that the three of them would alternate years with a friend party. When it's not their year we do something special...last year we took one son to see the Globetrotters, and the other son to a gymnastics event, while my daughters 5th birthday was celebrated with her friends and Tootsie the Clown (I won Tootsie at a fund raiser raffle). Make's them appreciate things so much more!

Monkeys' Mom said...

I am birthday party weary and my oldest is only two (and we have the baby's first birthday coming in August...). I am stuck feeling a little badly about wanting to low-key the baby's first birthday celebration when his brother's was such a huge occasion. I love entertaining, don't get me wrong, but I'm concerned about the message we're sending our little guys with a giant party every year (that seems to get more complex and more extravagent than the year before...) If it were all about me, we'd have the big parties every year (I LOVE throwing them), but it is really more about raising bright and grounded children up to be adults without entitlement issues. So I'm working on this one too. Let me know if you figure it out!

Maureen said...

Oh, you're going to HATE me. We only have one daughter, so I will admit we went all out for her parties. But they stopped at 14. So I would say we did a total of 10 "theme" parties.... but I had so much fun preparing for them. I knew those days would go by fast and I am glad we went all out with Pokemon, Harry Potter, Survivor and Amazing Race themed parties (in her older years).

Now that she's 17, I must admit I feel wistful about those times.

Sue said...

Funny, we must have been thinking along the same lines today. I, too, posted on parties with a different twist.
I love a good party, but special time with friends and family members make the memories!

Shellie said...

I'm with you on this one. If putting on a a party to end all parties is going to burn you out, will it really be worth it? Just celebrate. Mix and match. Sometimes a big party, sometimes an intimate special date.

Shamelessly Sassy said...

Um, about the parenting thing, I have no comments because I don't know what the hell I am doing as far as parenting goes. Honestly, I'm just writing to see if I can come to this Halloween party you speak of. :)

carrie said...

Birthday parties (and planning them) stress me out. A few years back, I said NO MORE GOODY BAGS for the final time because I was so sick and tired of all the crapola that my own kids received and then forgot about 10 minutes later (no matter how awesome the goody was). We have tried to make a conscious choice to have meaningful and fun parties that are low-key and celebrate the birthday child -- my oldest has chosen the pool for the past three years in a row because he loves it and this also fits our budget (it's cheap!). What matters is being together, being happy and celebrating one more year of being on this earth together.

The rest is just crap. :)

DysFUNctional Mom said...

You're doing what I do. I've never had one of those huge (ridiculous, IMO) parties. I do simple, fun parties with family and good friends, or whatever the child chooses.
I also make their favorite dinner on the night of their b-day, like Mombabe mentioned.

Happy Days said...

This was a great post. I have had a great time reading all of the comments. There are lots of great ideas. I completely agree with you about when is enough, enough! Thanks for sharing!

Secret Agent Mama said...

I have no recipe for success. I simply try a bit of this, and a bit of that, and hope that it ends up tasting perfect!

I think you are doing it right, OHM! ;)

Clare said...

Hi OHMommy! As a newer mom, I did a fairly big first birthday. But, really only invited family. I love reading what all of the other more experienced mommies have to say! Good luck with this one, I worry too about overdoing it with bradley.

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

The Toddler will be waiting a very long time before she gets a big ol' party for anything. Even then, it will be a one-time thing. She LOVED spending her 2nd birthday at the Children's Museum with just her Dad and I, and I fully intend to make every birthday all about her, but in a very small, personal sort of way.

The Gerster Family said...

Obviously, I'm no where close to this point yet, but I do know what we did growing up. Once we turned 12 (or middle school...whatever came first) we didn't have Birthday Parties anymore. We were allowed to choose a restaurant for dinner and invite one special friend to go along with us. We, each, did get a surprise 18th birthday of sorts, but it was also to celebrate the importance of "becoming adult" and celebrate the paths that God had called us to. We never celebrated every milestone with a huge group of people, but my family always made each accomplishment extremely important within our house. This taught me another important lesson showing me that no matter what, my family was always there for me and they were my biggest fans!

Don Mills Diva said...

I'm so not at this stage yet but I really agree with you in principle. We always got a big birthday party each year but back then we didn't celebrate preschool or kindergarten graduation - the birthday was it and when I say big party I mean my whole class but just hot dogs and cake from a cardboard box and water balloon tosses - a lot of work for my mom I'm sure but not a lot of $$$ - I can't imagine having more fun that that...

Pink Lemonade Liz said...

We do have elaborate birthday parties for the girls (I am a former professional event planner, so it just seems natural to do these)... however, it seems that every year their expectations of the party get bigger and bigger. I was so relieved this year when my oldest, Collette decided to have her birthday at the local "jumpy house" center - it took so much pressure off from me (no months of planning ahead, no entertainers to contract with, no getting up at 4am the day of the party to set up, no buying goodie bags for 15 and only 5 show up).... ahhhhh the freedom of "just showing up and going home".

I wish my kids would go for the special moments instead of the big bashes, maybe as they get older it will be an easier sell.

BTW: I love your writing! email me... I'd love to chat with you about possibly doing a guest post while I'm on vacation (if you're interested)...

Tari said...

I loved your post. I don't know the right answer. A few years a go I was tired of the parties and didn't want to do it again, when I told my husband he said it's not about you. It's about your child and this is a special day for him, we will have a party.
I like the no present policy when you figure out how to include it on an invitation let me know.

The Daily Stroll said...

I'm definitely not a seasoned mommy yet but I completely agree with your post! Parties can get out of control very quickly! Jonah's first birthday party was at our house with family and friends and his second was at a venue again with friends and family but I love the idea of having "special" birthday's going forward where we take him somewhere fun with a friend or two and making a memory. I do love celebrations though. We really enjoy get togethers with friends and family. Birthday's are a big deal in our house because it's your "one" special day! I don't worry about keeping up with the Joneses I just care about making it special for my family. I wish I had the control to only buy things for Jonah at Christmas and birthday but my parents were not like that and neither am I. I have fun going shopping with Jonah and getting him a few new things here and there. It's nothing extravagant. Like this week we bought a bubble maker from Target for summer. Something fun that he will enjoy but inexpensive. I do not want to get in the habit of spoiling him. I did read an article about a mom and dad that alway try to take each one of their kids on a weekend getaway once a year. Sometimes it's a weekend to another city with an overnight stay in a hotel or a weekend camping trip. Something where they can bond with each of their kids. I really liked that idea and would love to do something like that for my kids when they are older. I have enjoyed reading the other ideas in the comments. As always, great post and good food for thought! This parenting journey can be a struggle and it's so encouraging to listen to other parent's who are going through the same dilemas :)

Anonymous said...

I have been invited to many parties where presents where prohibited and it just puts me off. Because I can't help thinking this kids is getting stiffed somewhere(which of course couldn't be further from the truth, I know) I will say that the parties when it says 'In lieu of gifts, we would appreciate a book to donate to Lil Bit's library' was very VERY classy. That way nobody feels odd about showing up empty handed and too many books-well, there is no such thing.

Motherhood for Dummies said...

as a child, my mom told us all that we each only get two big parties. where they get a place and take friends and pay for them all. Which seemed fair. So I had one when I was around 8 and then like 14 or so. Those parties get expensive and they aren't about friends it is about spending time with family, so they dont need to be huge

Jim Gerl said...


I just voted for your blog for Bloggers Choice Awards.

Could you return the favor at:



Jodee Leader said...

On the invitation, you could put: "Please no presents, just your presence."

Tara Smith said...

OhMommy, you can write,"No presents, please. Your presence is the only gift we desire!"

girlymom said...

We have parties at our housee year round. We have a house that fits the crowd and a family that always brings a dish to pass. It's never a big deal I don't mail out invites, the word gets out and ya show up. As for bdays, we invite the family over, but we don't do a meal anymore, it's just for cake and ice cream...and a few drinks! When my oldest turned 6 she was allowed to have some friends over in the afternoon (before family showed up) we set up 3 kiddy pools in the backyard, water balloons, face paint and that was about it. They all brought pj's for a half sleepover (ya know get ready to sleep but then go home) We popped popcorn and put a movie in. I painted nails, they goofed around. The rule was she could have 6 friends, but that had to include her sisters...I'm sneaky like that! It was an easy party, basically a playdate, they all had fun and she was full of Thanks Mom at the end of the night. We are coming up to the 7th bday soon, she asked if her friends could come over and swim again. Sounds good to's cheap!

girlymom said...

Oh and for graduating from preschool, yeah they think it was a special treat, I ordered pizza. In truth I was going to order anyways and just told her that it was in her honor. We talk alot about pride and hardwork, they don't need things to know we are proud of them. Last day of Kindergarten was yesterday, they were aloud to stay up "late" to watch a movie. What a treat!

Karen MEG said...

Hmmm, not "so" seasoned, but the boy just turned 8.

I've been saying every year since he turned 6 that we wouldn't do the huge party any more. We started doing the indoor playground party when he turned 5 (he started kindergarten and was in daycare so we had to invite EVERYONE); it was so much easier to do it offsite, KWIM?! 25 - 30 kids ...ugh. The issue was that everyone was also doing it; the kids loved it, it almost got the point of "what is the new BD theme this year?" We did that twice for him; then last year we did a Sportball party - about 15 kids showed up, again offisite, but I loved it as they had two young coaches that took the kids through some fun and fit exercises and two games (soccer and hockey). This year, we did the Laserquest thing ... I know, I'm not big on guns, but the HUBS wanted to play too. About 13 kids including theBigKid.

Next year, I've told him no more big parties. Maybe a couple friends and a sleepover. He's quite excited already.

The other thing I noted is that we've always had 2 celebrations for him, one with his friends, and another, more intimate of just the grandparents and uncles/aunts (just baby cousins now) over at our house for dinner and cake. And my boy really LOVES those dinners just as much if not more. So that family celebration will certainly not go away.

Now my girlie, she starts kindergarten this fall and her birthday is right before Christmas (and I've already been told that I should not "double-up" on prezzies, by my SIL and both nieces, both born around then too LOL).

My dilemma is that I started the big party thing with the boy, and think it's only fair that I do the same for her for at least the first few years. We'll take it as it comes, but one of the most important things my mom instilled in me was equity for the kids. And I'm 100% behind that.

Sorry for the long novel here... I just can't shut up!!!

Anonymous said...

I am a party pooper! My daughter doesn't like parties either (she has an excuse, she's autistic and simply can't cope with them) but I can't use that as my excuse. I'm just unsociable. Kids expect so much more these days, it's all become a kind of competition hasn't it. I know some kids recently who are having parties in limo's. Do they think they are the Bratz girlz or something?!

Came over from David.
Crystal Jigsaw

Shelle said...

ON their odd birthdays the get a party and can invite 5 to 6 friends. On their even birthdays they get a date JUST with Mom and Dad and they get to pick the activity!

It seems to work around our house!

Flea said...

No recipe for success here. My youngest is going to a laser tag party for a friend's birthday next week. But my son? Wants to see a movie with his family, have his favorite meal for dinner, then eat cake and ice cream. Every two or three years the kids will each get a big party with friends, but usually something like a tea party at home, using my good china, or rock climbing with four friends. Yes, for us, that's big. They seem to like it.

Amy said...

It's so hard! You want to keep your kids happy and sometimes when they're all worried about how awesome little Timmy's party was and they want one just like that, well what do you do? My kids waver back and forth every year so there's no set party timeline for us. I do cut it off at 9 though. After that invite some friends for a sleepover and some pizza and we are good to go!

insane mama said...

comment #101, I should get a prize or something. I think this whole party thing is SO overdone, I have to get an outfit, yearbooks, and teachers presents.. I hate the end of the school year, but I have four kids so it's just too crazy

Angela said...

I seriously LOVE this entry. My son has had only two birthday parties out of four birthdays. Both of us those were with family and close family friends in a hope with cake, presents, and trampoline bouncing with cousins. The other two birthdays were intimate occassions with just him, me, and his daddy.

This year? He's getting one heck of a memory. For his fifth birthday, he will be going to a place an hour south of here, Marineland (in St. Augustine, FL). He will spend 10 minutes interacting with a dolphin. He will choose 3 colors of paint, and hold a canvas, and the dolphin with paint a picture that he will be able to keep forever.

Also, every year we make a Build-A-Bear for him to keep.

I just feel like if you do the same kind of celebration every single year, they all blend in to one another!


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