Birthday Parties or Politics?

Birthdays.  Such joyous events.  Such political nightmares.  What? 
One of the fun things for me about being a mommy and having kids is being able to celebrate birthdays.  Not that Andy and I didn’t celebrate birthdays before having kids, but it’s just different now.  Celebrating a child’s birthday let’s you be a kid again yourself.  I’m sure many people have their own family traditions for birthdays.   One of ours is to have the kid pose by this inflatable cake each year on the actual birthday.
Since our kids are only 3, 2, and 7-months, we haven’t had to navigate the party scene very much yet.  However, I’ve listened to multiple friends (especially of older children) try to answer the hard questions:
  • Do you have a party every year?
  • Do you have only one party a year, or one for family and then one for friends?
  • How many friends do you invite?  The whole class?  Just the same gender? Friends only?
  • Do you invite the whole family?  What if the kid you are inviting has multiple siblings?  Do you include them?
  • Do you make the parents stay to monitor their own children?
  • What about sleep-overs?  That brings up a list of questions all on its own.
  • What about gifts?  Do you ask for donations to charity instead? 
  • What about treat bags?  Kids feel entitled to them today.  What do you do?
The list goes on and on.  So my question for you today is this…what are your birthday traditions, rules, party guidelines, etc.?  How are you sensitive to kids this age?  Has your child been left off of the invite list?  How did you handle it?
I currently have a girlfriend asking some of these questions and needing some advice, so please give us your opinion.  Her daughter is in grade school and will be having a birthday soon.  The mom is considering only inviting the neighborhood friends and a couple close friends at school that the daughter actually likes and plays with.  BUT, recently the daughter got an invite to a party of a child at school that’s not on “the list”.  Should she go?  Should she skip?  Should the girl be added to my friend’s guest list? 
Here’s a bit more.  My friend asked her daughter about this child and the daughter admitted that she never plays with her and most likely only wants to attend the party because of its location.   AND there is a major trouble-maker girl in the same class.  SO, my friend doesn’t want to have to invite everyone because she doesn’t feel it’s necessary to invite the girls in the class that aren’t “friends” nor does she want to deal with the trouble-maker at the party…it’s caused problems in the past.  So now she’s not sure what to do!  Who would you invite?
Here are a few more pictures from the past…from Stella’s 2nd birthday:


8 Responses to Birthday Parties or Politics?

  1. We have an inflatable cupcake for yearly pictures too! I am doing the combined party since their birthdays are two weeks apart. At least until they care. Usually just close friends and family. We asked for no gifts last year and no one listened.

  2. Here’s how I’ve dealt with it so far:
    I ask my child if they want to attend “so-and-so’s” party once we’ve received the invitation. If my child doesn’t want to go for whatever reason then we don’t go. If that child attend my son’s in the past, then I would have a larger discussion with him about why he doesn’t want to go (this has not happened yet).
    I do not invite people just because they are in his class. If he doesn’t play with them or if there is an issue I don’t feel obligated.
    In regards to presents, we have always had people bring gifts. I think it’s admirable to have people donate to charity but I haven’t crossed that bridge with my son yet. I don’t invite 40 people, but keep it to a reasonable number and people don’t go overboard for gifts for him just like I don’t go overboard for their kids. AND I always include a gift receipt. I think that is SO much better than having to have the kid keep something they don’t want.
    My two cents.

  3. Having a 13 & 8 year old I can say we’ve varied our routine over the years. Depending on how busy our lives are in sports, etc. we do anything from having my 8-year old select a few friends & going to Chuck E. Cheese on a Friday night (which wasn’t too crazy busy on Friday night) to a bigger gathering at the local pumpkin farm. I always invite first cousins if they are young (10 & under) and his closest friends. Our routine varies depending on our life & I do not worry about who is invited, who isn’t, etc. It is for my children & as long as they have people around them that they love that’s all that matters at the end of the day. Yes, people tend to bring gifts whether you ask them to or not.

  4. Oh, party politics. Makes you almost want to ditch the party. But I LOVE throwing parties!

    When my daughter was in preschool I invited all the girls. We’ve always done them at home (and the one place we did it elsewhere there was a 15 kid limit) so we had to stick with girls only, and then friends from other parts of life. This year was harder, in Kindergarten. There were boys she wanted to invite too. So I asked her who she wanted and invited those kids. I just made sure to reinforce to her NOT to talk about it at school (that’s harder to do in preschool).

    Good luck!

  5. We’re still figuring it out as we go on birthday parties. My biggest fear is hurt feelings and I would swing toward wanting to invite all the kids in the class (or of one gender) if it was possible. For his fifth birthday back in January, I invited all the boys in his class and the girls who he consistently plays with, but I felt bad not just inviting the whole class and would if I had it to do over.

    I’d love to say “no presents” but my kids want presents (they’re kids!) and I don’t think people listen to the “no presents’ instructions.

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