Birthday Parties are Cool: But Also Stressful


MM’s 9th birthday is coming up and that means I’m in the thick of birthday party planning. I’m one of those semi low energy parents with high energy aspirations which means I tend to strive for really impressive parties with fun and original themes – like our Doctor Who Party last year – but then when it comes time to execute I kind of just want to acquire a cake and sing happy birthday and let the kids do their thing.

A lot of my kids’ friends seem to do the parties at bounce houses, gymnastics schools, stores that sell playground equipment, bowling alleys, etc. There are a lot of great options for parties away from home that boast the ability to invite LOTS of friends and eliminates clean up. I totally get the appeal but based mainly on price we decided pretty early on that we’d rather opt for smaller parties at home. We’ve made it eight years on that premise and I hate to give in to peer pressure now.

But then you find out that you have friendly children with more than three friends. And now with two kids in school I run into a surprising amount of “his friend’s sibling happens to be friends with our other child – we should probably invite both” which turns into “Why not just invite the whole family?” I love the idea of a big friends of family BBQ birthday party and when the weather cooperates, this works great.

But if I invite some “whole families” then I need to invite everyone’s whole family, right? Suddenly 10 kids becomes 40+ people and if it rains? That becomes my worst nightmare. Then we’re suddenly playing The Hunger Games Birthday Party Style deciding which friends my son likes the least or contemplating the notion of a drop off party so more kids can attend without filling every square inch of our home – which means less parents to corral the crazy. Which version is better? Which version will be more fun / less stressful? Will my son even care about these details at the end of the day?

I asked him what he wants to do on his birthday and his response was:

“Play legos with my friends. And there should be cake. And pizza.”

If his response is that simple, how is planning the party so complicated? I’m still not sure if I want to invite 10 friends or so as a drop off party or 5 friends but invite the whole family. Or if I want to call the closest bouncy gym bowling alley and be done with it.

Don’t even get me started on goody bags.

What do you do for your kids’ birthdays?

3 responses to “Birthday Parties are Cool: But Also Stressful”

  1. spanishwoods Avatar

    My son is now 17. I had Star Wars parties and Spy Parties and Pirate Parties with an insane amount of effort and coordinating games, prizes and activities. Recently, I asked him if he remembered some i.d. cards that my husband and I made for the Spy Party. He didn’t. Then I asked what he remembered about his parties. His response: “I think we had pizza for my tenth birthday, right?” So. Take whatever lesson you need to take from this story. I wish you well.


  2. Betsy Avatar

    We have really just been doing home parties with mostly family and neighbors. It’s been okay so far but my kiddos are starting to ask for bigger ones…. Don’t know what we are going to do yet. Thankfully, because of the divorce, I only have to plan every other year for each kiddo. 😛


  3. Jean Avatar

    I am all about the simplicity. We almost always do low key unless it’s a big one like 5 or 10 or gulp 16. I would still say keep it simple silly and only really invite his friends, BB can have hers when it’s her birthday. Don’t stress about leaving the sibling out.