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A Party Fit for a King? Children’s Birthday Parties

Since the twins’ first birthday (and their dad’s, yes they all have the same birthday) is coming up I thought I’d rerun this.


Birthdays for me have always been small affairs. Maybe a nice dinner with some family or friends.

A special treat to mark the day, and usually presents and cake. For Sawyer’s first birthday we had a BBQ at my parents’ house and invited the family and it was a lovely day.

This July Sawyer turns three. Not a big milestone for sure, but I am feeling a lot of pressure to do something “more”. On my baby boards people talk about putting together these grandiose parties, looking for new ideas to top the party last year. Then I received a birthday party invitation for a friend’s boy turning three in July and they are having a big Cars themed bash and I thought to myself, am I doing something wrong? I hadn’t even given his birthday a second thought (except to use it as an excuse for no new toys LOL).

There really is no limit to how far you can go for a birthday party. You can also invest either time or money so it doesn’t have to be expensive. At the same time, is all that necessary to make your child happy. I used to joke that we should just take a couple of pictures of Sawyer holding balloons and tell him that was from his first birthday party because he wouldn’t remember anyway!

Next year will be tough because it will be the girls’ first birthday and Jeff’s 30th birthday all on the same day! So we are gonna have to try and do something (although usually most people are partied out right after Christmas, or I know I am). If we do something though, it will be more for Jeff than the babies.

I am new at the whole kids party thing but my mom gave me a tip I like. She said you should invite no more kids than the age of the child. So if he or she is turning six, they can invite six friends. Makes good sense to me. Luckily, Sawyer doesn’t go to daycare so he doesn’t really have “friends” at this point.

I plan to talk to my parents and see what they say, but it’s tricky. I don’t want to spend a lot of money, but I don’t want him to be neglected because of the girls. Sawyer’s due date was actually on my birthday but he was born eleven days late (longest eleven days EVER) so we usually share a “party”. Not that I care, I am just older, it’s all about the kids.

So what’s your take on it? Do you throw big parties? What do you think is appropriate for a three year old?


About Shannon

I am a university educated full-time working mother of four children. Proudly Canadian, I freeze my butt off along with my loving partner, two dogs and a cat. I hope you enjoy reading my posts as much as I love writing them, but if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all.


16 thoughts on “A Party Fit for a King? Children’s Birthday Parties

  1. We do small family parties. I kind of figure once you start having big birthdays or friends birthdays it’s hard to go back to not doing it. My mom had the same rule of the number of kids as your age (or half as many for a sleep over or fancier party).

    Posted by organizednowplease | May 26, 2013, 1:34 pm
  2. It’s funny that you posted this today because we are having Eitan’s 7th birthday party today.
    last year was the first year we asked him what he wanted to do… This year he chose to have a bowling party and only wanted to invite 5 friends. Which is great. The place does everything for just have to bring your own cake. Which i bought at a grocery store and decorated my self with star wars characters. It’s not much. But i know he will love it.
    When he was younger we used to do bigger parties. But we were resourceful about things. So that we don’t spend too much money. And always took into consideration his likes.

    Don’t feel pressured to throw a big party. At the end of the day the party is for them and no one else…
    If you start big than you will always have to to what you did the year before.. And that can be stressful.
    Good luck

    Posted by Dafna | May 26, 2013, 1:53 pm
    • Thanks for the comment! You highlighted a fact I didn’t bring up, which is the pressure to top the party the year before. Yikes!
      Bowling sounds like a lot of fun, and 5 guests seems totally reasonable to me. Hope you have a great time.

      Posted by Shannon | May 26, 2013, 2:25 pm
  3. I like the age = friends idea! 🙂 We keep it small but they definitely feel special. 😉

    Posted by Valerie | May 26, 2013, 10:57 pm
  4. Our place is pretty small and we don’t have the budget to have a party somewhere else. I just invite family and close friends, but that usually ends up being more people than I expected. My son’s second birthday party ended up being more than 20 people! He had a blast, though. i’m glad we had it at home.

    Posted by Christie Silver | May 27, 2013, 12:34 am
  5. I feel that children’s birthday parties should be celebrated as adults are. They are just as important and you never know what day could be their last or yours even. Although they may not remember the earlier days of their lives, they do remember now in the short term, so I try to make the most of every special occasion so that atleast I know I did everything in my power to celebrate them as they should be. So, let me start by saying that I grew up with not a lot of money and very few times did I have a party or celebration as we could simply not afford it. My mom did everything she could for me, and that is why I will do the same for my children, regardless of the cost or stress involved in planning a large party. My family, on the other hand, feel that it’s okay to not celebrate my child’s birthday especially when it is too far for them to go or they feel a gift is warranted. Cheap, Cheap, Cheap family! It is hurtful, especially when my husband and I have been to their kids’ birthdays and provided presents for many a year, where we didn’t have the money to do so. I remember as a kid having a birthday party that no one came to. It was a horrible experience. This is why we always plan larger parties, so that the people that do end up coming are the ones that matter. If we invite all our family, it is a lot of people. But these are the people that we want with us to celebrate. So, when only half come from each side, we are usually left with around 12 people (not including us). Seeing how we do not have any close friends with children (or friends that would drive 2 hours to a birthday party) our parties are geared for adults with touches here and there for our son. This year, we attempted to invite 1 friend for our son who is the same age, but this little boys’ mama couldn’t make the drive out. I believe in the rule to invite as many children as your child is turning, but we simply do not know that many people with kids the same age as ours. I found myself this year, offering a bounce house to parents in hopes they would want to come, thinking the party was going to be awesome for the kids. This tactic did not work well, in fact it may have backfired when I was told that the older kids wouldn’t jump in it and would probably complain while at the party that their friends weren’t there. This hurt me beyond words, but I keep going and try to do what my son asked to make his party special for him in the here and now. I think I overcompensate for the fact that my son doesn’t have kids at his party to play with him, so I buy a trampoline for him to use, and a slip n slide, and balloons for water fights and a Lightning McQueen Powerwheel car (used). Buying all this ensures he plays at his party and has a great time, regardless of the fact that there are no kids there to play with him.
    I like the fact that my husband and I will always have pictures and memories to look back on and know we did all in our power to make sure our son knew his day was special and important to us (if not to our family and friends). So how did we end up throwing this large party you ask? Well, every year my father has offered his home (a farm) and has offered to help pay for the food costs. To me, this is a no brainer. If my father will not come to the city for my son’s party, then I would rather go to him and ensure that he is present for this occasion. It also helps that he has a yard and helps with the food, because these things get expensive. Now, we are in a small condo and we don’t have a backyard, so saving us the $200 room rental fee is a huge bonus! Here in lies the problem. Because the party happens at my dad’s farm, we found that his friends tend to show up on their own accord. Last year I was so embarrassed because I did not know they were coming and I had not made enough party favours. To me, party favours to say thanks for driving out for my son’s party is just an etiquette thing and really is a must. So not having something for everyone was incredibly embarrassing. There was also a division of people, as some were my dad’s guests and others mine. I felt torn between my husbands and my family and my dad’s family/friends. Hence, this year I decided to invite the people that showed up last year, and this way the invitation was coming from me, they should hopefully bring my son atleast a card to acknowledge that they are not just there for the free food and liquor (supplied by my dad again) and I will have enough party favours to not appear like a bad hostess. The downside to this is it increased our headcount to 24! Yowsers, see how this got out of hand?
    If it were up to me I would have my immediate family and my husband’s at a backyard BBQ at our home. Truth is though that we don’t own a home, and not one with a backyard that would allow for a small gathering. I wish we had family who had a backyard, but we also do not. The family that does is 2 hours from the city. So, we take what we can get and run with it.
    Now, if referring to big parties means the food you serve. Well, we always have served more food than people. This is how we have both been brought up. My husband is Polish and his family always has more than enough food for their guests. Growing up, not as well off, my mom and I didn’t always have enough food or an abundance of it, so I guess I always overcompensate for food as I never want anyone to be hungry when at my party. I will never forget going to my little cousins’ birthday party. After driving 2 hours out with the cake I made for her on my lap, we arrived at her home to be served 1 boiled hot dog. My husband doesn’t eat boiled hot dogs and what’s worse is the hostess gave her husband 4 of them and the kids were all starving! I couldn’t believe the lack of food or options. When taking her friends to the activity, I heard the kids ask if we were going to stop for food, because they were starving. It was upsetting to me that someone would expect people to drive 2 hours and then not feed them when they got there. So, I ensure we never have this happen by providing multiple food options and taking everyone’s allergies and food allowances into mind when planning the menu. Ps. We would have had Veggie Burgers and delicious salads for my guest if she could have attended with her children
    This year my son, who is turning 3 asked me about his party. I sat him down and asked him what he would like for his party theme (I am big on themes, it’s just who I am). He told me he wanted a Cars themed birthday party. So, we decided to do what he asked for. I had two years to do what I wanted and so this year was for him, as it is the first year he really understands “Birthday’s” in general. I asked him what food he wanted to serve to his guests, and his response was as follows: “Candy, Chocolate, Smarties, Pizza, Hot dogs, Burgers, Rice, piggies, Pasta, Corn, Chicken, Chippies”. So, we have decided to roll with this menu (mostly) and are going to incorporate all he has asked for in some way. When he looks back, we will tell him all about how he helped plan his party with us and how much fun we had in the process. I know to some people, serving so much food, and combining that with a large dessert buffet and candy bar seems ridiculous, but it is what my child has asked for and if I can fulfill his wishes and dreams I will do everything in my power to always do so. Plus, I bake quite well and can do these things somewhat easily, so why not? I don’t need to pay $100’s for custom cakes/cupcakes, dessert tables, because I do it myself.
    As for falling into the trap of topping last year’s party….I don’t think that is a worry of mine, as I will do something different every year, not necessarily better or bigger, just different. In summary, it all boils down to the experiences we have had throughout life that gear and shape us into the parents we are today and guide us into making the decisions we do about everything, including “birthday parties fit for a king”. I look forward to the day we have a home with a yard and I can do a small get together, but until then, we are destined for occasions of grandeur!

    Posted by Sarah | June 5, 2013, 2:49 pm
  6. We just dealt with something similar. The twins birthday is 6 days apart from hubby’s. They just turned 2 and he 30! We don’t have a ton of adult friends so for his birthday, my mom watched the girls and we went to a Brazilian steakhouse and then arcade. It was simple, fun and not just a movie (we always end up at the movies for dates, lol)

    For the girls, we do family birthdays till 5. Just a light brunch. We do pick a theme and I make homemade decorations and base the menu on the theme but it’s never too complicated.

    Posted by Heather C | December 30, 2013, 11:57 am
    • I think that sounds very reasonable. To be honest I feel like people who throw big birthday bashes for young kids are more doing it for themselves than their children. My excuse is after giving him twins for his birthday, what could top that? Lol thanks for commenting.

      Posted by Shannon | December 30, 2013, 12:34 pm
  7. So interesting to have all same birthdays! Gotta be a big celebration!

    Posted by Christy @ | December 30, 2013, 10:50 pm
    • It will be nice just to be together as a family since husband and I work opposite shifts and have opposite days off (so someone cam watch the kids) so we don’t get to be together (I booked the day off). Thanks for reading and happy new year 🙂

      Posted by Shannon | December 30, 2013, 10:56 pm

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