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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Taking a Stand - Birthday Parties

April is a pretty busy month for us. Between both the kids birthday parties (one for friends and one for family) spring break, Easter, church, the MDA walk and more it's no wonder we are always on overdrive. And planning birthday parties used to be stressful. Especially the party for friends. Especially since both my kids are born in April so that is 1 party for their friends for each of them.

In past years we have done the whole Chuckie Cheese thing. We invited the whole class and gave goodie bags and it cost us a pretty penny. I wonder how this whole thing got started. Parties at Pump it Up, Amazone Rain Forest, Laser Tag Extreme. What a racket! You pay an arm and a leg for a party for a couple hours and what do you get? Kids expectation that next year you will do the same or more. The kids are popular for a couple days? Well, when my husband got laid off we had to stop the parties. We started inviting a few friends to our family party and guess what? The kids loved it.

So this year I started thinking. My husband has been working steadily for over a year and we are in a good position. Should we start the friends party up again? But there were other issues I started to consider. (Amazing how you start to contemplate things more the older you get) Like those goodie bags. They are usually filled with plastic toys that get thrown away and really??!! It seems almost like a bribe to get the kids to come. My sister in law never gave them out and there was never a revolt at her parties (not that she has told me but she may be keeping that part secret from me ;) I also thought about all those toys in the landfill. There was also the issue of presents. In parties past the kids got so much junk I had no idea where to put it and honestly, the more toys my kids have the less they play with them. So I decided on a new route for the parties.

This year the kids got to pick where they wanted their party. BUT, they were only allowed to invite three of their closet friends. My kids picked the Strongsville pool. They could swim all day and we would order pizza for dinner and then a sleepover. Jared had a great time and Katie is looking forward to hers this week.  AND THERE WAS NO STRESS!!! Let me repeat that last part in case you didn't get it. THERE WAS NO STRESS!!!! There was no reservations, no mortgaging my house to pay for the party, there was no fighting because their was only a small group of kids, there was no wondering if there would be enough food or whether the kids would have a good time or what to put in those darn goodie bags (there were none btw at our party) It was a wonderful relaxing and fun time for adults as well as the kids.

We also changed the whole present thing. It started with a birthday party my friend had for her son at our church. She stated that no presents were necessary and that our presence was enough. Imagine that! A birthday party where it was just about getting together to celebrate and have a good time with friends. I was floored and then I embraced the idea. So on our invitations we put no presents were necessary, that their presence was enough of a present. Those that wished to brought something, but with 3 kids it was small and my son got what he wanted and was not overwhelmed. This also shifted the focus off of presents and onto having fun with friends.

I know some parents may read this and not agree with me which is fine. This is a democratic nation and if everyone agreed it would a truly boring world. There are others though that may read this and be struck with inspiration which leads to sharing with others and more inspiration and pretty soon I have an army and take over the world of birthday parties and....Wait. Sorry about that. Got a little ahead of myself. Anway I hope you enjoy this post and feel free to leave a comment. Have a great day!!

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