Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bummed Out About Her Birthday

I hope this post will prove to be therapeutic. I am dreading my daughter's birthday in 9 days. I love my birthday, I must admit. It is my favorite holiday. But I'm easy to please. Requirements for a successful birthday celebration for me: good company and great food. But the older my daughter gets (turning 4 soon) the more pressure I feel to give her an awesome birthday. Her first birthday involved a pink tutu and family members singing and clapping which scared the bejesus outta my kid. You can see how red her face is after she finished crying and I helped her taste her cake.

See how simple this was? So the next year, we had a little house party. Mostly family (adults) because our friends' kids aren't close to her age. Here's a fun video of dancing in the living room. She has some good moves! Yes, she got a few gifts. We put up some streamers and served some home cooked food. Simple.

When she turned three is where I think it got a little out of hand. Last year she fell in love with Disney princesses and especially Tiana from Princess and the Frog. My husband hired an Princess Tiana impersonator. (video here) We (my husband) bought Tiana themed balloons and paper goods. We ordered pizza and wings because my husband said it didn't make sense for me to make pizza and stress myself out. We had abut 10 kids and their parents plus the usual suspects (family). We set-up my brothers dj sound equipment. The one thing I am most proud of was that was a huge hit with all the kids was that I baked cupcakes and set up a decorating station. They piped their own icing and added all kinds of toppings and I even had clear to-go containers so they could take their creations home. Some of the kids really got into the decorating and made intricate designs. We gave out goodie bags (I'll get to that), broke a pinata, played Twister... Sure it was fun and memorable but I was exhausted after and I still had to clean up.

Now, brace yourself... this is where I get all grumpy. When did it become "the right thing to do" to give your party guests gift bags? I don't remember getting gift bags when I was attending other people's parties as a child. But now it seems a given. I thought the tradition is that the birthday honoree gets the gifts? So the host plans a party, provides food, and now I need to give all the little attendees and additional gift? I just don't get it. I will give your kid a gift when its their birthday. I'm assuming this 'tradition' was born out of some child attending another kid's birthday party and being upset because the birthday kid got all the presents and they felt left out? It just feels weird to leave with a goodie bag when I attend another child's party. Like our attendance was being bought or we're getting a consolation prize. Hey, the cake and ice cream was plenty. You don't have to give my daughter more candy and dollar store fodder that will end up floating around in my car or confetti on my living room floor. There's a recession going on for goodness sake. Save your money!

I'd love to maybe do an activity with our immediate family but I feel guilty because people will ask why they weren't invited. Or they will inquire what we did to celebrate and I worry they will think (well I invited you to my kid's party, the least you could do is return the favor). I have a hard enough time choosing a birthday give for my own loved ones. My daughter is very girly through no intentions on my part.I wanted to spend the day at this kiddie spa in CT with my daughter and her 2 grandmothers. It ain't cheap but I know she'd love it. But she is old enough to know what a party is and hears how excited her friends get about their parties. She's been planning her guest list for months. I don't want to deny her that and I won't but I don't like getting sucked into these "must do's" and restrictions. It's stressing me out. I'm worried I'll forget to invite someone or my party will be "lame". I hate to feel that I need to prove myself to others but isn't that what we're trying to do... out-do the last party we went to? Where can I draw the line without being labeled a birthday grinch?

Do any of you buck the system? Is this goodie bag thing just in the Northeast (I'm not from here) or is it a new generation thing? (I'm in my 30s) Is it just who I grew up around, or did we NOT get parting gifts in the 1980s when we attended someone else's birthday party?


  1. I have done a craft at my daughter's b-day parties. Not only does it provide entertainment, the kids get to take it home, thus eliminating the need for goodie bags!

    1. Good idea Kelley! Now to think of a craft for girls and boys that isn't too messy :-)

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