children's birthday parties

[deleted account] ( 17 moms have responded )

This turned into a slight debate on the Welcome page, so I thought I'd bring it over here, for something a little more lighthearted.

The OP on the Welcome page wanted to know if she was being cheap for not wanting to throw her daughter a first birthday party. She wanted to save the money for education.

What are your views on birthday parties for young children, especially very young children that will not remember the event? Who do you invite? How much money do you think is appropriate to spend?

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[deleted account]

I think we spent about $60 total on my 2 year-old's first birthday party. We had to spend $50 in gas to get to the party (at my grandma's house) and then we brought some chips and dip. Family birthdays have alwasy been potluck affairs in my family where everyone brings their own meat and something to share. We;re Methodists though and you know what they say - we Methodists love our potlucks! lol

We also had a small bbq at my MIL's house the next weekend that cost us about $40 for the food (9 people)... So I guess it was really $100 total between the two parties.

For our youngest, however, my hubby went kinda crazy for her first birthday. We invited a lot of people (her friends from daycare and their families, our landlord and his family, a whole bunch of my family and friends came over from my home town (over 2.5 hours away) and then my hubby's family came as well. We also let our oldest invite 3 friends from school so she would have some kids to play with. All in all we had about 40 people at our house through the entire party. We rented a bounce house and a cotton candy machine (the cost to rent both for the whole day was $70 - the bounce house companies were offering great deals in February!). Anyone who was not family was invited from 2-5 and family was invited to stay from dinner after everyone else left. We fed around 20 people and the total food cost was around $50-75 (I can't really remember). I made the cake ($5 for cake mix and icing) and we made small goodie bags ($10 total spent on goody bags and decorations - I LOVE the dollar store!). So what is that... $135-160 for our daughter's party. Not too bad...

This year our oldest is turning 8 and we are giving her an option. She can either have a party for her friends at the local skating rink OR she can have a suprise trip with her dad and me (we are wanting to take her to Disney Land). We can't afford both, so she's going to have to choose (and quickly because it's coming up in September!). No matter what, though we are sending some kind of goodie to her class on her birthday, so that's around $10 or so for all the supplies.

[deleted account]

I don't consider $150 much at all (though it's more than I have at the moment). I've heard of people thinking nothing of spending $2000 or MORE for a toddler's bday party!! THAT I think is absolutely ridiculous!

Meghan - posted on 07/20/2010

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I spent $50.00 on my son's bday...and it was kick ass.
My mom still goes all out for our bdays. I love having my friends, our family and his friends around to share in HIS day! It doesn't have to be expensive...kids would be just as happy to go to a park and have PB&J sandwiches!

Hannah - posted on 07/20/2010

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My daughter will be one on Friday and we are having a big party for her on Saturday. We invite all friends and family. We don't spend a lot of money though. We did princess theme for decorations. We are getting a cake from Kings Soopers and doing like meatballs, beans and weenies, and chips and dip for little appetizers. Nothing too expensive. I do think that 1 is a huge birthday and should be celebrated. It is their very first birthday ever. Even if they don't remember it, you have to have the pictures for the scrap book! :)

[deleted account]

@Jane, some people on the welcome page were making a huge deal about the $150...lol! Like it was some spectacular amount of money or something. I mean, it is a lot of money. But if you want to feed 40 people hamburgers, chips, ice cream, fruit and drinks then I think $150 is pretty reasonable. I'm not talking thousands of dollars here!

Amie - posted on 07/19/2010

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Anything before school is low key and family only. We do supper, presents and cake. Costs us $30 for the cake. Everything else would already be in our freezer to feed everyone with. No fancy dishes, etc. Even presents are kept low key for us during this time. It is mostly for us because our kids really didn't/don't give a damn and wouldn't know the difference if we didn't do something. LOL!

Once school starts though we include friends parties. Which cost the most and where the big ta do is. We haven't hosted one yet that has cost under $250. The most expensive one was just over $500. /:) That one was ridiculous only because our daughter invited every single kid from her class and they all came! My bad, I didn't think they would all come. Ah well. They always have fun. The kids spend generally about 4 hours with us wherever we decide to have it, go home with a good treat bag and go to sleep nicely for their parents. lol!

Oh wait, our cheapest one ever was held at our house. We spent $100 on groceries for all the kids. Set up our bounce house and water slide and let 'em have at 'er. Every kid went home wiped and ready for bed. lol!

Sharon - posted on 07/19/2010

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Kids love noise, excitement and being made much of.

For some kids, every day is a party.

And then for some - their parents are ruled by practicality. At least we know that child will never want for anything because her mom has thought ahead.

We are a party family. Even if its just a family thing. Cake, icecream and some gifts. Even if they're gag gifts or slightly practical. I bought my son a case of his favorite cookies and made a gift card for music online. I wanted him to get music downloads but we don't use itunes or emusic and what he wants can't always be found on any single site, giving cash is so... eh... thats all I can think of. But I made my own gift card and he loved it.

My younger kids just love getting together with their friends. So we pay for everyone to get into the pool, then take them to the park for cake & goodies.

Joanna - posted on 07/19/2010

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I wasted so much money on my daughter's first birthday on the matching stuff... the decorations, party hats, tablewear, etc. I said I wouldn't do that again. But then for her second birthday I did a Wow Wow Wubbzy theme, and spent a ton online trying to get matching stuff (including a dress and matching hairbows).

So no more am I doing themes. I'd rather spend the money on good food (I love parties because it gives me a reason to cook/bake), or doing something fun, like having it at a petting zoo.

Although my daughters birthdays will be about a month apart, so I will probably end up doing joint birthday parties down the road which hopefully will save money. But I'm not a fan of doing the big bouncehouse/rent a clubhouse thing that most of the parents do here. Growing up I had friends over and we played games and had cake, and then one or two spent the night, and that was so awesome. So that'll probably be what we do.

Jane - posted on 07/19/2010

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BTW...I do NOT think that 150.00 for a party is a lot of money...by the time you buy food, drinks, paper products, etc., that seems about right to me.

My daughter's teen birthdays were at home but she would be allowed to invite all her close friends and then family, it would be about 25 people total. We would bbq and by the time all is said and done, it is about 150.00 to 200.00.

I was thinking people were talking about spending like a LOT of money and I don't think that is necessary.

Jane - posted on 07/19/2010

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I'm responding without reading any responses. I always find by doing that, I don't get swayed by others comments.

1st birthdays for my kids were always family and close friends only. It was a meal we would have had anyway and shared with those closest to us. I never did think that having big parties for 1 year olds was necessary but that's just me. In all actuality, I think about all the parties we've had over the years for my kids, now 20 and almost 17 and none of them were huge in any way. Until they actually started school, they were always like I described their first party. Once they had friends in school, we had parties at the house with home baked cakes, usually pizza and small inexpensive party gifts for all the kids. Teen parties consisted of again, home parties where we would do outdoor things for my daughter being she's a July birthday and indoor things for my son being he's a November birthday and we live in Colorado. Sometimes we'd do bowling parties or Mr. Biggs (arcade type place) but for the most part, they always loved having their parties at home...simple and mom's homemade style type food/cake/etc.

[deleted account]

For any age.... I invite my 'family' (very few are actually relatives). There have been a couple of parties where I've invited some of the girls other friends, but that's rare since their best friends are in our 'family' anyway....

The only money I ever spend is on food and their gifts.... which never cost much. We do our parties at the park, our church playground, or the beach, so there is never any cost for location and I don't/won't do goody bags. Occasionally some cheap party favors like bubbles or balloons, but that is it.

Charlene - posted on 07/19/2010

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I'm similar to you Sara.
And we're actually having two parties for my daughter, because our close family on both sides would be well over 60 people.
The first one is at my Aunt's house, as we live in a small two bedroom apt, so this was a much better location. They also have a swing set, trampoline and a pool, so we don't need much more entertainment.
We're BBQ'ing hot dogs, I'm buying a cantaloupe, watermelon, grapes and strawberries to make up a fruit tray, (which should make enough for both parties), I'm making the cake, my mom is making some nacho dip and jello and we're bringing paper products. It's nothing fancy, nothing major, other than the amount of people.

The second one is at my MIL's and it's similar. BBQ, fruit tray etc. There's nothing in their back yard, but the kids on their side are a lot younger. My MIL is pretty much doing the planning and cooking, so again.. nothing big, nothing fancy.

I don't think it's absolutely neccessary, for big parties.. actually, I think spending gobs of money is a waste at this age. But I do think it's important to allow family to be there to celebrate it, be a part of the milestone.

[deleted account]

I do the bounce house in the backyard, and this past year I rented a spin art machine. It was the best money invested to keep a dozen 5 year olds busy and having fun. I go all out for my son's parties. Pinata, big sheet cake, and pizza or a huge 6 foot sub cut up. Even though I have a small family and just a few friends come, I am happy to throw my son a party. They are in my backyard where the adults can kick back and relax, watch the kids have fun. I enjoy watching the kids play as well. I plan to spend the extra money and the past 3 years of a "real" party with the bouncer have been awesome! This yearm my mom gave me money towards the boucner and that was appreciated. So between cake, pinata + fillings, bouncer, food, drink-I'm looking at $200 range.

[deleted account]

I think that is where I differ from some people. To me, close family includes my husband's and my aunts and uncles and cousins. So a party with only close family is still at least 40 people for us. And we love to get together. =)

Krista - posted on 07/19/2010

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I don't see the need to have the big party every year. My mom used to throw a party for us every second birthday. On alternating years, we'd just have a nice dinner with close family, and I could have two friends sleep over. I'll probably do much the same thing. Sam's first birthday is approaching, and I think I'm just going to have the two sets of grandparents and my sister over -- I don't want to overwhelm him with a huge crowd, and it's not like HE knows what day it is.

Rosie - posted on 07/19/2010

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well i think that every child deserves a birthday party!! but for me, i don't go broke. i refuse to pay for other peoples things. i'll make a cake and it will cost me 2 bucks, and provide pop. big woop, i spent $10. i'm sure the money in my kids cards would well make up for the 10 dollars that i spent on cake and pop.

if we go out to a pizza place or something, i make sure they know they will be buying their own pizza. we've been trying to stay at home more for birthday parties though lately, too much drama for me!! lol!
there are ways to do it without going broke, and making money if that's what she's worried about.

[deleted account]

In our family, birthday parties are a pretty big deal. I invite all our aunts and uncles, cousins with children, and close friends with children. I spend about $150. That money is all spent on food and paper products. My sister always makes the cake as her present to my daughter, because she's very talented at cake decorating, so that is not an expense. We don't do a bounce house, because the kids that come are happy to run and play in the backyard.

Some on the welcome page were appalled at the amount of money spent on a birthday party. For my family though, birthday parties are a great excuse for us to get together. Plus they all love my daughter, and she loves them, so what better way to spend the day? For us, it is an expected expense, and we plan and save for it.

I totally understand the other side that thinks it's crazy to spend so much on a party. I'm one of the tightest people you'll meet! But when it comes to family and hospitality, I'll loosen up. My family wants to spend the day with my daughter, and it's a special day!

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