Yesterday, when I picked my daughter up from school, she told me what kids said about her late birthday party and I said to myself “Yes, yes, yes! I did it again!” I was so happy and proud I decided I would share this with you as soon as I could.
I am sure for many of you parents, birthday parties for kids are not something you look for. Whenever I talk to parents about parties or when they come here to one of our kids’ parties, they tell me “You are so brave … I could never give my kids a home party … It must be very expensive”. Every year, most kids miss the wonderful feeling of having a party at home with lots of friends, because their parents are afraid of something that is not there.
I have 3 kids – a 20-year-old, a 13-year-old and an 8-year-old. Out of the total of 41 years, they have had 41 birthday parties (they actually had more like 120, because we love the idea of celebrating the whole year and one time at school and one time at home and once in the family and another time with friends). We were shocked to discover that not all kids around us have a party with friends every year.
The other shock was that if they do have a birthday party with friends, most times they are at McDonalds (or Burger King or some other play area, but we call all of them “McDonalds parties”) and not at home.
The third shock was that because McDonalds parties are not cheap, many parents only allow their kids to invite 3-4 kids to the party. The braver parents invite 10 kids or the whole class and pray that not all of the kids show up, because each kid costs about $10, not including the cake.
Again, I am not sure what they do at home with their families and friends from outside school, but I am talking about school friends here.
Friends, friends, friends
I believe that social skills are very important for kids. When my kids have a party (whether a birthday party or some other get-together), their popularity goes up and everyone around them becomes more friendly towards them. For a week or two before the party, kids talk about coming or not coming and about what the party will be like. For a week or two after the party, the other kids talk about how much fun it was and my kids get to be at the center of attention and grow their social circle.
Being controlled by you, home parties can be focused around your birthday boy or girl, so that they get as much special attention as possible from everyone. When the party is arranged by someone else, all the kids are typically kept busy together and the little birthday person may even feel left out sometimes.
Try having a party at home. It is an easy way to help your kids make friends.
Money, money, money
I have heard many parents say that a birthday party at home costs too much.
Well, I disagree.
We have a very typical birthday party. The kids arrive and receive an empty party bag. Throughout the party, we have lots of games and activities, in which the kids get prizes and candy for participation (this is important! Not winning, participation! Everyone is a winner for participating). We have a cake, we have lunch or brunch or dinner and the kids go home with a bag full of lots of stuff and they usually do not want to leave.
This year, I bought sweets and prizes and together, a birthday cake, pizza, popcorn, dips and carrots for parents (who sat on our big porch as the party was happening inside), disposable plates, cups, cutlery, cordial, coffee, tea, milk, a piñata (Eden and Noff made it themselves) and plenty of balloons. All this cost us $70. Yes! Seventy dollars. We even had 2 big pizzas left over that the kids took for their lunch the next day, as well as lots of sweets and prizes, a quarter of the cake and most of the dip.
Do you think this is too much of an expense to spend on your kids for their birthday? It cost as much as inviting 7 kids to McDonalds and having no birthday cake, but it made 16 kids (and some of their parents) happy for a few days.
Mess, mess, mess
16 kids left our house with their parents at 1:30pm. Each of us picked up some things, cleaned some things and at 1:50pm, our house was spotless, the dishwasher was full, the chairs were back in place and the only signs of the birthday party were the balloons that we left hanging to keep the festive feeling and the gifts on the floor that Noff sat and opened with lots of joy.
Parties are not a mess and it is not a good idea to tell your kids they are, because if you work together as a team and you use disposable serving dishes (included in the small price – see above), 30 minutes is the maximum amount of time you need to spend cleaning up after everyone leaves.
The kids were so nice and respectful, over 41 birthday parties with friends (when our kids were babies, we already invited family and friends with kids), no one has ever damaged anything in our house. I do not believe that having a birthday party at home is going to be messy and I would not recommend that you to think so either.
Yes, I did it!
Every year, my kids ask what kind of a birthday party we are going to have this year. We usually let them choose from a few options – art party, dance party, fashion show party, musical jam party, pajama (slumber) party, pool party and so on. A “McDonalds party” is not on our list, but sometimes they ask about having one, just for something different, until we remind them of the great advantages of having a party at home and they choose something else.
Yesterday, I received a reward for my efforts over the years. When I picked up my daughter, she said, “Everyone came to me today and said how much fun they had at my birthday party”.
“Who is everyone?” I asked.
“Everyone”, she said, “Everyone who came to the party”.
“I’m so glad they liked it. It was fun”, I said to her.
“Yes, it was great fun”, she said, “And they all said that a home party is way better than a McDonalds party”.
I was so happy, because if 16 of your friends say it, it definitely makes you feel even more special.
Enjoy your kids’ birthday parties,