Whatever Happened to Cake and Ice Cream?

And maybe a balloon or two?

I am about to discuss a very contentious subject. Prepare yourself.

Children's birthday parties.

You know what I mean. I don't even need to describe it, because you know. Three words: Over The Top. Or one word: Extravagant.

Please don't throw anything at me.

We like parties. A. loves parties. Parties are fun. In fact, her potential birthday party looming on the horizon is what has caused my brain to spin and my blood to boil. We have entered the seventh circle of Hades, otherwise know as planning an age appropriate birthday party, without of course, bankrupting ourselves. There's the kicker.

Here are a few facts: She will be turning 5 next week. We plan to celebrate with a family supper, cake, ice cream and presents. At a later date to be determined, at a venue still to be decided, we would like for her to celebrate with her little friends as well.

Here are a few more facts: It's HOT in southern Texas in September any way you slice it. In the past we have hosted 2 fairly simple parties in our backyard. The kidlets have had a great time, however I've always felt extreme guilt about making their parents melt in the glow of our fading summer.

Possible options include these ever so popular Rent-Some-Fun in exactly 90 minutes places. With your very own teenage host. These are usually fun, the kids love them, they are fed and entertained. They are EXPENSIVE. There is a bouncy place, a place with a costumed rat and games, and an indoor entertainment place where you can bowl or play glow golf along with food and games.

Bless her heart, she's only turning FIVE. If we do these types of parties now, what on earth does our future hold?

I'm at a loss.



  1. i would be totally thrilled to melt in the glow of fading summer with you!!

    we did the party at the rat's house. once. just to say we did it? i'm not sure. but our two most successful parties since then have been at the playground. which is FREE!

    so my vote goes for the backyard party. just serve plenty of ice water!!

  2. Holly...
    It is up to US, us OLD FASHIONED women to turn things around to the "retro-way" of throwing a child's birthday party. I mean, let's go all out for a 50th wedding anniversary, but I agree...the birthday parties are over the top! :(

    I have heard that it is best to have as many children as your child is going to be old....

    I have never had one of G's parties at a "venue" (yet!) This year she will be 6 and we are having 7 of her buddies (plus herself...there I go without paying attention to the age thing mentioned above.....) go to paint pottery. Then we will have the cake/ice cream thing with family. At this party, the girls will get a "goody bag" of whatever item they paint and will have Capri Sun flavored water and adorable cookies (made by my baker friend from childhood) and that is that. I will admit, I am jazzed about not having to bring people into the house, but it was very affordable. PLUS the people that work there will paint G a "Birthday plate" and all her buddies will sign it....aaawww....sweet! :)
    Good luck. Don't stress. The kids just want to be TOGETHER. It's the parents that make everything so complicated :(

  3. I am a big downer on this subject. I didn't let the kids have a "kid" birthday party until their 5th birthday. If I did a party each year for all 3 of them, that's all I would be doing and we'd go broke. (OK, maybe it's not that severe, but it feels like it.) Plus, I feel guilty expecting other kids to bring gifts.

    So every 2 or 3 years they get a kid party, it rotates between the 3 of them. And actually, they are happier with the family get together and maybe their best friend attending. No one to impress, and who isn't having fun when they are opening gifts?

    Plus, it's a little extra something they will have to share on the psychiatrist couch when they get older. And something they can tell their own kids; "I didn't have a fancy birthday party every year!"

    Is that my guilt coming through??

  4. Do you know some high school girls? Have them over to help you with A and her friends (plus A and all of her friends will think that they are SOOO cool hanging out with the "big" girls).
    Then have a little spa at your house. Have a finger nail painting station, a toe nail painting station, a hair style station, etc!
    Super fun and cheap!

  5. Oh I like Amber Kays idea...

    I have a lot of kids, love traditional birthday parties, & we have had loads of them... I agree these over the top extravaganza's just set you up for a future of problems.

    Chloe had the most darling teddy bear (or doll)tea party one year- indoors. It was a blast & really cute. You could do it southern style with lemonaide little pb & j sandwiches? I just used my best linen's etc. (they didn't even get ruined) just a thought :)

    tonight we are taking her & 9 friends out for pizza/soda (NO RAT) & then back home for some games & a chocolate fountain. Her birthday was yesterday. Fun times!

  6. We didn't even start doing friend parties until they were five. Then we did friend parties every other year. They have always been at home! I'm a voice of support for you on this. The expectations keep growing. Celebrating on a small scale from the start is hard to do because of the pressure of others doing big things, but it has to start with one of us speaking these words out loud and not fearing that we will be embarrassed because we didn't provide enough. You can always come up with creative water games in the backyard or obstacles courses that involve water or just run through the sprinklers. Good Luck.

  7. I'm probably no help. I'm not a birthday party person. I don't like the chaos and I can't afford all the party stuff anyway!

    We always have a family "party" and that's about it. One year, for E's 6th birthday, I did a party at a gymnastics place. It was awesome and I figured that it was worth the cost to not have the hassle at my house. But, I was working full-time while my husband was in school and it was feasible. That was in California and I haven't found a similar place near us in Idaho. We haven't done anything like that since. It was his one and only birthday party and he's now 10. His birthday is in July and so we started a tradition that we always go to the water park as a family for his birthday. This year his best friend came along. He doesn't seem too scarred by the fact that he doesn't have parties.

    J, who's 7, has never had anything other than a family party either. He's not scarred at all either. He's been to a couple of parties, but birthday parties in general aren't a big thing around here.

    As much as I hate Chuck E Cheese, the kids love it and that might be an inside option for you. Personally, I wouldn't give in to the pressure to have something big, with lots of goodies or anything like that. Keep it simple and buck the trend!

    My sister started over the top parties with her first and now her first is 10 and her 4th is one and I think she's regretting it.

  8. I have been reading your blog for some time and I really enjoy it. I had to comment on this post. I agree. We just adopted two sweet girls from foster care. They really came from nothing. They have only been with us for four months. Next month is the youngest's birthday. We want her to have a party but don't want to give her everything. This has been keeping me up at night. I would love to know what you come up with.

  9. I say stick to the family party and then have a couple of girls to a movie or bowling or something. I think kids' parties are TOTALLY OTT!! I have serious issues with it. My kids have each only had one party with a bunch of friends. Each birthday is special, but I do NOT think they need to be overindulged. Neither do their little friends.

  10. I agree...if you start renting venues and spending big bucks at 5...what's left for Sweet Sixteen?

    This year my daughter had a pajama-breakfast party. Parents dropped them off at 9 and picked them up at 10:30. They were all starving and still waking up...so we ate, played a couple of games, opened presents and sent them home. The rest of the day was ours.

    Pancakes with whipped cream and strawberries were just as good as b'day cake!

  11. Oh, don't even get me started. I decided with my kids to have big parties at major birthdays like 8, 12, and 16. Otherwise, we just have a simple family dinner with cake and presents. I think the world has gotten too retail oriented for Christmas and now we feel the pressure for little ones birthdays. Why don't you decide which major birthdays you would like to go all out on and then the other birthdays you can just do something simple. Really, when they grow up they will just love remembering that you loved them and their family loved them. They don't need all this 'stuff' every single year. Lay back and relax. You might just inspire some other parents to 'cool it' a little! :o)

  12. we have mostly had at home parties too. (or in free/low cost places) we did always let them invite friends. My daughter's five year party was at a church camp out! we brought a cake and a pinata and every one there played along. my son's five year party...his grandparents had a big pile of dirt. we brought the kids and tonka trucks and shovels and they played in the dirt!!! if we did ever decide to "go somewhere" we usually did it w/ a friend or two and no "party package" like someone mentioned above...

  13. Totally agree. I refuse to pay anyone else to throw a party for my child. A party should be just plain fun. Not some extravagant waste of money that produces seriously spoiled children. There's my two cents.

  14. i think if you have fun, it doesn't matter where it is. i loved all my birthdays as a kid and there were always friends there in my house having a good time. no chuck e. cheese for us. kids are kids. no matter what the bells and whistles. :) good luck. i'm looking to see how it goes with you to see what to do wtih k next year. :) (ha ha!!! after i preach of simplicity i'm secretly nervous HE will have a fit!).

  15. Hi, I'm new and routed from the Gab Blog (from a good friend who moved to Utah recently and has been trying to explain the FLDS stuff to us midwesterners). Anyway, we hit the same dilemma in August with our son's 4th birthday. We rented the bouncy place - but talked two of his preschool friends with August birthdays to join in.

    Key: overlapping kidlet friends.

    Results: (1) Shared cost, and (2)only one birthday party (instead of three) for all the parents with overbooked schedules. The kids loved sharing the birthday too!

    Enjoy, no matter what you do. These are precious times.


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