Blogger, Writer, Urban Adventurer
The reality of having three, social kids is that we get invited to a lot of birthday parties. A LOT. We get invitations from their classmates, former classmates, people from dance class, swim lessons, church and the list goes on. Our kids are also young (kindergarten and preschool) and many parties at this age include the entire class. Multiply this by three kids and we are often invited to two or three birthdays every weekend.
I’m grateful that people think to include us in their celebrations, but the reality is that we cannot attend all of these parties. I’ve tried to manage the stress of RSVPs and gift-buying. It also barely left any unscheduled time for us to hang out as a family. So, I needed to make the process more manageable. Here are a few tactics to survive the children’s birthday party madness!
Buy your gifts in bulk
If you are going to a birthday party every weekend, that means you need a gift every weekend too. I have enough trouble getting to the grocery store weekly, let alone navigating the toy aisle at Target every few days. I like to buy in bulk when I find something I love. I also like to buy these items online so I never have to set foot in a toy store. Books or items that will be consumed (as in…used and thrown away) are some of my favorites. I also like to give items that don’t take up a lot of space. I’ll find a great art kit on sale and buy ten of them to keep on hand for parties. The same goes for sticker books, early reader books and other usable gifts. I’ve also been known to give iTunes gift cards and Starbucks cards to moms on their kid’s first birthday. My daughter has taken to calling our storage closet “the present room,” since that is where I store all of these future gifts. I also have the kids make the cards themselves and buy gift bags /paper at the dollar store. No use spending a ton of money on things that get thrown away!
Birthday party treat bags have expiration dates
I am not a fan of all of the candy and trinkets that come home with birthday party gift bags. I let the kids play with them for a week and once I find the “stuff” abandoned in the car, it ends up in the trash. Sorry kids. And when we host the party, I like to give books along the same theme as the party. One year I gifted everyone with a Daniel Tiger app that parents could download, but the kids were very confused that they didn’t get to leave with a physical treat. Oops. I’ve bought the traditional trinkets in the past, but can’t justify spending money on things I know I would throw away, too!
It is okay to say no
Yes, we try to make all of the parties with close friends, but I gave myself permission to say “no,” when:
• We have too much going on that weekend and saying “yes” will put us in a position of being on-the-go all day. No one has fun when we are constantly attempting to move them on to the next sugar-filled activity. At the end of the day, the kids are a hot mess and no one is happy.
• If it is not a drop-off birthday party and my youngest kids are not invited AND my husband is unable to help, I’ll say no. While it is fun to do solo time with the kids from time-to-time, I am not getting a babysitter to go to a birthday party.
• If we have a conflict, I no longer try to reschedule everything to do both. We’ve had the conversation more than once with our six-year-old about why we can’t attend two things at once. Sometimes we miss out, but that’s life.
• Family activities trump kids birthday parties. It doesn’t happen often, but if a sibling, parent or grandparent has an activity that they want the whole family to attend, we choose that over birthday parties.
Other parents understand
I think all parents are in the same boat when it comes to invitations. We want to include everyone and not hurt anyone’s feelings. As a result, sometimes we over invite! I am guilty of this too. I’ve never been upset with someone who said they couldn’t attend our party. As long as you give them notice and RSVP, it’s fine. Really. It is also okay not to invite everyone. Your kid and my kid are in the same class and you want to include us even though our kids don’t talk or play much. Sure, it’s nice for us to model that kind of behavior for our kids, but sometimes you have space limitations or a big family or you can’t invite everyone’s siblings. I get it. Do what you need to do!
We still average at least one birthday party on most weekends. While I can’t say that I don’t feel tinges of guilt when I see photos on Facebook of parties that we didn’t attend, I can say that choosing to do less has allowed us more opportunities to do things as a family. That’s okay with me and I am pretty sure that is okay with everyone else too.
Photo credit: Fotolia/dream79
Originally Published on Mommy Nearest