Birthday Parties – Necessity, Obsession, or Treat?

Birthday Parties – Necessity, Obsession, or Treat?

Today on the morning news I saw a story about a man in Florida who has saved his business by offering alligator pool parties for birthdays. The man is experienced with alligators, mind you, and so he feels that it’s a perfectly safe offering. He must know something about the current state of birthday parties because he is doing quite well with this endeavor. Here is the link to the news story if you’re interested in seeing what his alligator pool parties are like.

Anyway, this got me thinking…

    • Do parents feel obligated to have a birthday party EVERY year for their child?
    • If you do have a party, MUST it be a big event in order to be considered successful?
    • Have you ever spent more than you know you could afford on a birthday party?
    • What would happen if you toned down your child’s future birthday parties?

I can only speak from my personal experience with birthday parties. For my family a birthday was always a special day, but an “event” was never a prerequisite for it being thoroughly enjoyed or what one might consider a “success”. I grew up in a subdivision where birthday parties were common in the neighborhood. I do remember attending a few. While we always celebrated my kids’ birthdays I will admit that I never felt compelled to have a party. It was always a family day for us. Geez, now that I think about it, it never even occurred to me that I might have disappointed them by not having the traditional birthday party.  Too late now for the mea culpa. I doubt they’ll be needing any therapy to overcome any feelings of neglect ;).

I surely know that birthday parties are quite popular these days. Why wouldn’t they be? Parties are a good excuse to have fun! In our attempts to provide a life filled with love, joy and happiness are we, as parents, reaching the tipping of point of overindulgence. Have birthday parties become an obligation? Are kids now entitled to be feted on the day they were born? Sorry for the cynical tone – just asking?

Getting back to parental obligations… Is there some fine print on a birth certificate that requires parents to hold a birthday bash EVERY year? Do you think your kids would mind if you toned down their birthday party this year? Maybe just have a family get together. And what about the presents? On top of the expense, time, and labor involved in a birthday bash, there is the issue of birthday presents. Not just for the birthday child’s parents, but for every child that’s been invited to the party. I bet some of you are shaking your head up and down in agreement with me here. I know how tough it can be when your child has multiple birthday parties to attend in one month. Sure, the invitations aren’t offered with malicious intent. It’s just the sound of the register ringing up yet another birthday gift that you can’t get out of your head sometimes. And let’s acknowledge re-gifting. Yes, you heard me. I see that smile on your face. Don’t tell me you never forgot about a birthday party only to be faced with the dilemma of not having a gift on hand. Quick… scour the house and find something!

Ultimately we all agree that a birthday party done well (any party for that matter) is a thing of beauty. If you can pull together all the elements that insure that a fun time is had by all you feel like you just made the summit. Mission accomplished! If we get caught in the cycle of more and more and better and bigger we are notching up the stress factor every year that passes. At some point your party stops feeling like fun and starts feeling like just another obligation. Even if it’s for your own child. Parents are human – never forget that. Families are more than orchestrated moments with predetermined expectations of joy. The lasting memories will always be the time you’ve spent together. The words you share. The hugs you cherish. The photos you take. The ways you show your child just how much you love them.

I’d love to hear from all of you. How do you handle birthdays in your family?

I’ve pulled some links for you to read – some commentary about birthday parties.

One final note: Happy Birthday!!!!!

By Gret Boyd




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