As parents we sometimes
stress about throwing the perfect birthday party for our kids, obsessing over
details until the final product is a party more for us than our children. Here's a helpful cheat sheet that breaks down what your
kid actually wants for his or her birthday depending on their age.
Image via achunkzzz/Twenty20
Toddlers: On your baby's
first and second birthday, any party you throw is more for you than it is for
them. Toddlers don't know what birthdays are. Toddlers don't care if their baby friends wish them happy birthday or not. And frankly, they'd
rather not have a bunch of strange people staring at them and taking pictures. Toddlers
can't be bothered with party games of any kind because they all get boring
after two minutes. Toddlers are, however, very interested in eating cake with their
faces and ripping up shiny wrapping paper.
Preschool: From the ages of
about three to five years old, kids start to appreciate the "party" part of a
birthday party. While eating cake is still one of the highlights of a birthday,
preschool kids are also very excited by the idea of winning prizes by playing a
game, winning prizes by whacking a piñata, or being given prizes for doing
nothing at all. Kids this age also often
have favorite characters or people. So if you could arrange to have someone like
Elmo or Elsa from "Frozen" show up, that would make it the "Best Birthday Ever."
Or if you can't arrange to have Elsa show up, paper plates with Elsa on them will
probably make it the "Best Birthday Ever," too.
Elementary: From five years old to about nine years old is
the prime era of birthday gifts. Kids at
this age know what they want and aren't afraid to ask for it. The idea of a large
birthday party with a lot of friends is appealing not only because kids are
starting to build true friendships at this age, but also because kids have
figured out that a lot of party guests equals a lot of birthday presents. So stock up on those party favors.
Preteen: Kids ages 10-12 still
want lots of gifts but their friends are becoming more important than ever.
This is a great age for smaller, experience-based birthdays. Instead of the
traditional birthday party consider taking a small group of your child's friends
to a theme park, to a concert or roller-skating. Preteens want to feel popular and cool, which
can be tough to achieve at an age when kids are mostly made up of knobby knees
and first acne outbreaks. Just remember, above all they don't want to be
Teen: Teenagers still
want a birthday party but there's a good chance they don't want you, their
parent, there to celebrate it. As for gifts, they want cash or gift cards,
unless you can afford a car in which case that is the preferred birthday gift. After
the party, when no one else is around, teenagers will still secretly want that special
birthday cake you always make, topped with the same wax number candles that you've
been using since they turned one.