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I've just finished hosting
our daughter's sixth birthday party. And I'm really not sure it is something I
want to go through again.
As a former corporate event
planner, I figured pulling together a child's birthday party would be a breeze.
And I have reveled in it over the past several years. But the details I can't
control end up driving me crazier each year.
Our home simply does not
work for hosting a kids' party. There isn't enough open space or seating, and
with a December birthday we can't count on sending the guests outside for
So we decided early on that our
daughter's birthday parties would be held at venues. And we've hosted some fun
ones: pottery painting; bowling; safari theme; a Big Hero 6 karate party.
Yet each year I find the
planning to be more and more stressful. Getting people to RSVP is by far the
biggest challenge. Many people just don't do it. And it matters, especially
when one is paying by the person and has to commit to a number in advance to
Other people indicate they
will attend and then don't show up—without getting in touch. If your child is
sick I appreciate you keeping her home and I understand things can come up.
But a heads up is always welcome. As is a note after the fact sayings something
like, "Sorry we missed the party! Hope the birthday girl had a great day."
(Yes, as I write this I am
annoyed by my dining room table being covered in goodie bags I personally
assembled for kids who didn't show up this year. And they aren't filled with
cheap, plastic crap.)
Could she enjoy her special day as much without a party? I am confident the answer is yes.
Then there are the politics
of birthday parties. It turns out planning a small child's birthday party is like walking through a minefield. In pre-Kindergarten, the
rule at my child's school was you invited the whole class or no one from the
class. That all-or-nothing approach proved to be expensive, especially since my
child has many close friends outside of school she wanted to include in
addition to her classmates.
With her entrance into the
elementary school system, there was no such edict in place. And so it became a
process of, "Whose feelings are going to be hurt?" To a certain extent, that is
part of childhood. But my 6-year-old is certainly not mature enough to grasp
It's gotten to the point
where I seriously wonder if it is all worth it.
Has my daughter loved her
birthday parties? You bet. She's had a blast, and so have her guests. Could she
enjoy her special day as much without a party? I am confident the answer is
Case in point: For her
fourth birthday we planned our first family trip to Disney World. There was no
party with her peers. And she never asked about one.
I am leaning in that
direction moving forward. Not necessarily something as big as Disney (or a
trip) each year. But a special activity she is sure to enjoy is more appealing
than planning a birthday party. Or perhaps an outing with
one or two close friends—something that will be less hectic and more meaningful,
focusing on relationships and shared interests instead of activities, presents
and party favors.
Maybe I am over-thinking
this whole thing. I don't know. I have a year to recover. I might feel
differently as birthday number seven comes around.