When I think back to any birthday party I had as a kid, I remember small affairs with the family. Mom would make a cake. Everyone would come over for pizza, sing happy birthday, eat some cake, and go home. As I got older it was typically a slumber party with 5-6 of my friends. Nothing fancy.
What ever happened to simple? Today parents go way overboard! I know because I’m guilty myself. You have to pick a theme. All the decor and colors must match. The food needs to be perfect and look like something off of Pinterest. There are games and entertainment. Cakes to match the theme. It goes on and on. Literally taking weeks to plan!
We recently went to a party for one of my daughter’s school friends. It was the first time we were meeting her family. I was expecting to show up and have there be a handful of kids from her class. Maybe a few family members. The invitation said to bring bathing suits. It was scheduled for 3 hours. How easy is this?!
I was wrong!
We showed up to a house full of guests (easily 50+ people). We knew no one. There were 2 water slides and a bounce house. The playground and trampoline. Inside there was a princess dress up station. A woman was doing face painting. Another was doing princess hair. We even had a special visit from Elsa & Anna. Kids were running around everywhere having a great time.
My daughter was overwhelmed. She hung back to watch. Didn’t really want to participate.
I watched too. In my mind, I realized that I too have gone overboard with birthdays. As the birthday girl kept disappearing into the house probably to escape the crowd for a bit, I started wondering if we as parents do this for the kids…or for ourselves. I started imagining the money her parents had probably spent trying to make this day special! Their daughter was turning 4.
Are we setting these kids up for disappointment? Their expectations being set so high. Each year we try to out do (or at least match) the year before. Spending more money than we really need to.
I think about my own childhood again. What did I remember most about my birthday parties? I remembered the excitement of everyone singing happy birthday. Blowing out the candles and making a wish. Having a few of my best friends there to play games and giggle with. Opening presents.
It wasn’t the theme or the decor. It wasn’t having some crazy cake. The memories we were making didn’t cost much at all. It was more that feeling I had because the people that meant so much to me were investing their time to make my day special.
It really is the simple things. That and overcoming the feeling that everyone will be expecting something bigger. So next time I plan a party for my kids, this will be top of mind. I’ll plan to scale back and focus on the simple things…at least I will try.
What do you remember about your birthday parties?