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April 27, 2010 - Kylie Saari
Birthday parties for kids. Yet another parenting problem area. The blogoshere is alive with arguments for and against throwing a party for little ones. It is something I am thinking about, as both my kids have April birthdays, and we are finally done for another year of them.
I have a friend who doesn't believe in throwing parties for kids, another who gives them parties only on certain years, and I throw each child a party each year.
I believe for each viewpoint there are valid points, and the key, for me at least, is keeping the festivities in check.
I don't order petting zoos or clowns. I do limit the number of guests. But each year my kids make it through unscathed was a good year for me, and I want to celebrate.
This year, my five-year old had a princess party. All her friends came dressed in their prettiest dresses, I supplied crowns for those who wanted them, and organized crafts of glitter playdough, princess wands, and decorate your own cupcakes.
My seven year old's was less structured - appropriate for his age. I gave them swords and threw them outside, provided cake, and sent them home.
Both parties were a success, I spent less than $20 on each of them, their friends had a good time, they had a good time. It was worth it for me.
But some parents stress over parties. They try to outdo themselves, or worse, their kids friends' parties, and the kids pick up on the atmosphere.
I believe the line lies in the desires of the parents (I like throwing parties), the kids expectations (they knew everything we were going to do for the parties, so no one was disappointed when I didn't buy her a pony), and kept the goody bags light (kids don't need more pencils and stickers.)
So for me, all is well.
But how about when your child gets invited to 20 plus parties per year, the budget is tight, and the schedule even tighter?
My advice? Set a dollar limit on birthday gifts and stick to it. Don't feel obligated to bring your child to every party s/he is invited to — you are in charge, if it doesn't work for the schedule, politely RSVP that your child can't make it, and be sure to have your kid tell the other happy birthday next time they meet.
I didn't have many parties as a child, and I didn't feel deprived. Kids grow up happy and healthy with or without them.
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