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Birthday Bashing: When Is Enough, Enough?

Now that school is in full swing, are parents feeling the pressure to outdo each other when it comes to birthday parties?

Are extravagant birthday parties a necessary evil?  Do you feel pressured to rent a birthday party place to "repay" the parties that your kids have attended? 

Huffington Post's Teresa Strasser outlines the social contract she calls "Kid Pro Quo"

How do you handle the pressure to celebrate birthdays for your kids?  Is it appropriate or necessary to plan an expensive, elaborate party for children that may or may not remember it? 

How can we balance splurging and honoring our children on their big day without letting it spiral out of control? 

For a frugal way to celebrate, here's a way you can hold a Birthday Party Book Swap for the younger set.

Caroline Nold September 15, 2011 at 10:14 AM
I WISH I could justify big parties, but I really can't. Between the cost, the time (a bigger issue), the added stress on a busy family, it isn't worth it. In the end, how many of your childhood parties do you remember? And then there are goodie bags...who invented this?
Carrie Hilliard September 16, 2011 at 03:07 AM
The cost for these parties can be crazy! I love to put together fun themed parties and i think my kids enjoy it. But its true, how much will they remember? Half the time its for the adults/parents! The other question is when do you stop having these parties? My now 11 yr old is already saying, well next year I want to do this...I interrupted him and said "um, next year you will have a family party and 3 kids sleep over!" ugggh!
Maribel Ibrahim September 16, 2011 at 06:22 AM
Check out my Patch article on Birthday Party planning: http://severnapark.patch.com/articles/great-ideas-for-planning-your-kids-birthday-party This article can help you sort out whether a rental place or a home based party is for you. I personally prefer the home based parties and can limit the number of people I invite that way. We probably don't get as many invites to the "big" bashes, but, so what... My kids remember times with their closest friends and I feel no pressure to conform to the big party venues. A friend of mine recently had a brilliant idea. For her son's birthday, she made a reservation for him and a best bud (my little man!) to do the Chesapeake Pirate's Tour in Annapolis. The boys had a blast. That was her party. No muss and it didn't break the bank. And yet, the boys get a memorable time out of the deal.
Heather Bobbitt September 26, 2011 at 05:17 PM
That was awesome! When my older son turned 10 we took him with just two of his buddies to the circus. All the time spent chatting in the car, sharing food, really made the experience more intimate for the kids and gave them a sense of specialness. The kid world is full of gatherings of lots of kids (school, sports, church) and playdates are almost always at people's houses. Birthday Parties are a chance to rehearse kids on "date" manners - how to go out into the world and experience something with another person or two. Maybe this makes the occasional actual Birthday bash more special, too.
Maribel Ibrahim September 27, 2011 at 03:48 PM
Heather, thanks for the inspiring ideas! It's a win win... All the memories and glitz without breaking the bank. These kinds of intimate moments are what kids remember most.

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