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27 Mar, Monday
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Montreal Families

How to curb the birthday party excess

It seems like kids’ birthday parties are getting out of hand these days, with parents trying to top each other for some non-existent “Most Elaborate Party” award! It can be difficult – if not impossible – to keep up with the intricate, expensive and often highly structured parties that are thrown by our child’s friends and classmates. Whether your child is in school, is homeschooled or is not yet even in preschool, the politics of birthday parties affect everyone. Save your sanity and stay out of the Poor House instead by considering some of the options and tips below.

  • Realize that you don’t have to invite the whole world to an expensive gathering. One of my favorite parties growing up consisted of about five friends and an ice cream parlor. Every few years you could save up for something special and a little more costly like a moonwalk in the backyard or taking five friends to Paradise Park. If you’re having the party in your spacious backyard, by all means invite your child’s entire class. But …
  • … if you have a small home or apartment, you might invite guests to a park shelter that you reserve in advance. Bonus: You don’t have to clean your home before or after the party!
  • Of course some of the kids in his class may get their feelings hurt if they aren’t invited, but we all have to get used to rejection sometime, right? The unspoken rule in most classrooms is that kids just not talk about upcoming birthday parties so those who were not invited won’t get their feelings hurt. Don’t make your child feel like she has to invite kids to her party just because she attended their party. Either set a limit on the number of invitees or have your child really think about who her friends are and who she would want at her party.
  • When my son turned eight this year, we let him have three friends sleep over the night before his at-home birthday party. We had invited close family members and a handful more of his friends to the party. This way, he got to play with his pals while his grandparents got to watch him open gifts and have a blast. And if you have tweens, Jennifer Wood, mom of 2, thinks pizza and a movie at home, followed by a sleepover, is a great bet.
  • Instead of spending mega bucks on a specialty cake, Tresa Cope, mom of 3,suggests baking cupcakes yourself and letting the guests decorate their own with colored frostings, sprinkles, gumdrops and other candies.
  • To kill some time and get some kid energy out on the cheap, consider a piñata. Otherwise, kids don’t need every minute of their day scheduled for them … running wild is what they are best at, especially at a birthday party!
  • If you’re tired of your kid receiving so many gifts that you can’t even find a place to put them all, Melissa Hile, mom of one, says her son sometimes asks guests to bring canned goods for Harvesters instead of gifts. Or you could have every guest bring a book from home they don’t read much anymore, and do a book swap.
  • Take your child on a special Birthday Date and talk about the day she was born. Write a letter to her every year letting her know how she’s grown as a person and what you love about her.
  • If you do choose to go the route where you have a terrific bash at a location other than your home, consider keeping the number of invited children down to save costs. Maybe going to a movie with a few friends, bowling, an indoor trampoline location or other place that is special to your child would be the way to go.

I’m willing to bet that your child would much rather have your time than an extravagant, stressful party where you felt like 30 kids and their parents had to be invited. The most important thing is to make your child feel special on his special day.

Annual Birthday Letter Idea

Dear __________,

I’ll never forget the day you came into my life. You are so __________ and ____________. I am always amazed at the way you ____________, and you are great at _______________. Right now your favorite friends are ________________, and your favorite food is ____________. Your  hobbies are ____________. When you grow up, you want to be a _______________.

I love you!


Kerrie McLoughlin (TheKerrieShow.com) throws 5 cheapish birthday parties a year at her own home in Overland Park. The kids and guests always have a good time!

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