Growing up, my dad wasn’t big on birthday parties. He felt pretty strongly that birthdays were for family, and as such, most of my birthdays were family affairs. And I never really felt like I was missing out on anything.
Things are different now. We live thousands of miles away from my extended family. I’m a single mom. My daughter is an only child. And I adopted her after years of infertility and fearing I would never be a mom at all.
So, yeah, birthdays are a big deal.
All in all, I spend about $500 on her birthday every single year. We live in a small condo, so we have to rent a venue. Then there's the cake. The decorations. The goody bags (don’t even get me started on those damn goody bags), and food and refreshments. Which wouldn’t be a big deal if I were rich, but I’m not.
But she’s my baby. My one and only. And I love seeing her excitement when her party rolls around.
And honestly, I don’t do anything more over the top than any of my friends do, all of whom I would guess spend about the same amount (or more) on their children’s birthdays. So not only is it something I want to do, it’s something she sees all her little friends getting year after year—which means that, yes, there may be a little keeping up with the joneses in it for me.
I started to wonder if I was alone in this reckless disregard for money around birthdays. So I asked the question on Facebook, mostly because I was curious what other moms spend.
To my even greater surprise, six different moms admitted to spending between $1000 and $2000 on birthday parties.
The answers surprised me. Out of over 40 responses, the average cost of birthday parties was actually $500 ($478.78 if you want to be exact.) It turns out, I’m not overspending compared to other moms. I’m right there in the middle of the pack.
To my even greater surprise, six different moms admitted to spending between $1000 and $2000 on birthday parties. Two of those six were adoptive mamas like myself (I swear, I think we are prone to going overboard just because of how hard we had to fight to become mothers) and two more were living in LA, where I guess it makes sense that parties and venues would just cost more.
Whatever the case, their responses made me feel better about my own birthday splurges.
There were also six moms who responded with $100 or less being spent. These were the moms who threw the parties in their homes, and who made most everything themselves. I’m kind of envious of these moms, only because if we had a bigger home, I would totally be doing the same. It just seems so much less stressful!
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I'm also mildly jealous of the few moms who admitted to not doing parties at all, opting for experiences instead. Most of those moms still average a few hundred dollars on birthdays, they just spend it taking their kids on weekend adventures or fulfilling dream days instead of throwing it all into a party.
I actually love that idea. And as my daughter gets older, I might try to convince her that’s the direction we should go in. But realistically, she spends most of her days just her and me. So if she ultimately still opts for parties, the kind where she can be surrounded by friends and the family we’ve built for ourselves up here, I’ll get that.
And I’ll probably continue going all out.
It's not only because she's my one and only baby. I fought so hard to be the mom I am today. Celebrating the day that dream became a reality kind of feels important to me, too.
Even if I loathe having to put together goody bags to do it.