For many busy parents children’s birthdays look nothing like they did even a decade ago. As a child, your birthday probably happened at home, surrounded by family and maybe a few friends. You opened a couple presents, blew out the candles, and dug into a cake – homemade by Mom, of course.
Today’s birthdays bear little resemblance to the simple parties of times gone by. Modern children’s parties are action-packed affairs that require weeks (and even months) of planning.
Parents take on a laundry lists of tasks that include everything from shopping, baking, entertaining, preparing, planning, and – ultimately – exhaustion. Parties feature Pinterest-inspired favors and handmade decorations that would put a wedding reception to shame.
Fight for Your Right to Party!
To have a proper party today, you need a theme, color scheme, and personalized décor that complements your child’s age and interests. One family spent $40,000 on a Wizard of Oz-themed birthday party. Another featured 32 floral centerpieces and 300 costumes.
Check out this article on children’s birthday parties published by the Huffington Post.
The situation has become so dire, one family therapist was inspired to gather a few moms and launch a website to raise awareness about excessive children’s birthday parties.
The problem isn’t confined to the United States, either. One study found that parents in Britain spend almost $2 billion on children’s parties each year.
Read more about these studies here.
Fortunately, there are ways to strike a balance between over-the-top and too little fuss.
1. Scale Back on Gifts – A Mom’s Mantra
Everyone says they’re going to do it, but few people stick to their resolve. The truth is, the party is supposed to be for the child, but many end up being forMom and Dad. When a party becomes a status symbol, it’s time to cut back.
If the presents at your house have turned into small mountains, make a conscious effort to scale down. One popular modern mom mantra suggests buying a child just four gifts: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.
By reducing presents to just four thoughtful items, you and your child can pause to truly savor the act of opening gifts.
2. Lower Expectations (Must Be This Tall to Ride…)
Many people experience a small bout of depression after the holiday season concludes. As children’s parties become bigger, more extravagant affairs, experts say the same phenomenon is emerging around birthday parties.
Experts speculate that the buildup and subsequent let-down surrounding just one day causes kids to experience a roller coaster of emotions. Consider slowly scaling back birthday celebrations so your child is not overwhelmed.
3. It’s Better to Give Than to Receive…
Turn your child’s birthday into an opportunity to teach him or her about helping others. Instead of accepting gifts from classmates or friends, ask invitees to bring an item of clothing or a book to donate to someone in need.
Other ideas include gathering toiletry items or clothing for domestic violence shelters, or assembling food and other supplies for your local humane society. Most community outreach organizations are always looking for food, clothing, and other items.
Other good ideas include visiting a nursing home to visit with residents and serving in a soup kitchen.
4. Pick One Big Gift (with Your Child’s Help)
As birthdays approach, many parents wander the toy aisles, trying to find gifts their child will love. Instead of wracking your brain for gift ideas, consider allowing your child to select one major gift with your help.
You may wish to shop online so your child can have fun browsing the Internet for ideas. Besides eliminating stress, online shopping can also save money. Many retailers offer exclusive Internet coupons and deals during various times of the year.
A child’s birthday should be a special day, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By managing your child’s expectations and making a few adjustments, you can slow it all down and enjoy a more peaceful celebration with your birthday boy or girl.
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