August 25, 2010,
J.G. asks from Fair Lawn, NJ on August 17, 2010
Did I Throw a Lame Birthday Party?
My four year old just had her birthday, and I feel so lame. I'm unemployed right now, so money is a little tight. But we had her party at a "party place" because doing it at home is impractical and a hassle -- I don't have the room or the energy for it. So I kept it to the minimum, which was 10 kids. The party room seemed very empty, the hostess was not good (young, not in control, stressed out), and I totally felt rushed out of there. Some of the guests seemed surprised that mutual acquaintances of ours were not there. Ugh! I don't know why this is bothering me so much, but it's making me feel so inadequate as a mother, and like I did a bunch of things wrong! I just need some positive reinforcement. I thought I tried my best. Thanks.
So What Happened?™
Thank you, thank you, thank you! You mommies did not let me down. I feel so much better. Yes, the kids all had a good time at the party, and that is what counts. And I'm glad that some of you agree with me that it's weird to ask about who was on the guest list! Next year we'll definitely do something at home. Thank you again for your support!
T.B. answers from New York on August 18, 2010
My kids are preteens and just the other day I mentioned something that was "memorable" that happened at one child's 6th birthday and she couldn't remember and the older didn't remember it either, but trust me at the time they were thrilled LOL!!! Don't worry about it!! It's not worth the stress. If there were things you were not happy with/about, then use it to make next year even better :-)
1 mom found this helpful
S.L. answers from New York on August 19, 2010
My young adult children were just happily reminising (sp?) about the b day parties we had in a backyard, with an old yard sale slip and slide, simple crafts and nail polish for the girls, one year I put up a dollar store Pin the Tail on the Donkey and the kids were thrilled to play a game they had never played before!
We never did a "party place" and they dont feel like they missed out!
A.G. answers from Houston on August 17, 2010
I dont think anyone that goes to a 4 year olds bday party expects anything super exciting, up until about 5 those things are pretty lame actually. Im new to the party game, last few years all parties have been at my house we have a full bar and a pool table, darts, big screen etc, so the adults are always entertained, its the kids parties i feel lame at too. I rent an 80 dollar bouncy house(moonwalk) and decorate with walmart decorations, like a color theme, throw some pizzas in the oven, have cake and ice cream, and goody bags for the kids. I feel this is sufficient and cant notice if anyone is having fun anyway because im cleaning the entire time.
Dont worry, adults arent supposed to have fun there, and kids are easily entertained
A.C. answers from Dallas on August 17, 2010
This may sound slightly off subject for a moment, but thought it would help you with perspective. A couple years ago, I was driving through a town I used to live in. Without a map or anything else, I found my way to the old apartment (converted officers' barracks, nothing fancy!) where I lived from 18 months old to 3 years old. 25 years later, I found my exact building, just by remembering the place I used to play in. I took out a fastfood napkin and pen, and wrote down everything I could remember about the inside. Walked in, and it was the SAME! (Fresh paint, but the same color....same doorknobs, same dip in the same concrete floor, etc). I told my mom all about it, and how accurate my memory was, because I felt so safe and loved, what a great place to live. I remembered specifically sitting at a child-size tea table (the only table we had in the house, I suppose) with Winnie the Pooh and Raggedy Ann, while mom heated spaghetti o's on the stove and sang "Billy Boy" to me. Mom burst out crying, saying it was the scariest time of her life, we were in poverty in a 1 bedroom apartment from World War 1, and we shared a can of spaghetti o's for one meal, would share a burger another meal, and she was so scared that it would traumatize me or we'd starve on the streets. She ended up marrying my dad and we never did without after that; we were upper middle class growing up, in great neighborhoods and schools. I was MOST happiest and felt MOST safe and loved though when it was me and mom, a team, with everything we really needed (but nothing else, lol). Your children will remember things, but it will be how much they were loved, and the feelings that you invoked, not the actual events. I've actually quizzed my nephew and friends' children (ages 8-14) about birthdays in their pasts, and they really don't remember much of anything until somewhere around school age (1st grade on average) regardless of how involved the parties are.
My son's parties: for his first, I went back home where I grew up, to introduce my husband AND my son to most of my old friends and relatives I don't see often. Because it was more than a birthday party (almost a high school and family reunion combined) we rented the ampitheater (about $60-80) at a local park and set up tables and chairs, had a big dinner (jambalaya, white beans, french bread, I made my own vegetable tray and dip, drinks, cake from Walmart with the free smash cake---about $85-100 for 45 people). I bought a pull string pinata of a number 1. We ate a great dinner, had music in the background (not blaring), talked/laughed a lot, showed off our baby and let him get passed around between the grandparents, the kids played in the playground. After dinner we had cake, changed his clothes while everyone ate their cake, and opened presents.That's the most we've ever spent on a party! His 2nd birthday we attended a school's homecoming parade (he thought it was for him, lol), I made a pumpkin roll with 2 candles in it, a pot of gumbo for friends, and we went to play at a free pumpkin patch. Last year (his 3rd): I'd bought tickets to a dinosaur event just for the 3 of us, thinking that would be it. But kind of last minute, he ASKED for a party (he'd attended several so it was on his mind). I asked "Um, what IS a birthday party to you?" and he said "Balloons, cake, friends." So, we went to the park and got 2 picnic table close together (one for eating, one for gifts and food trays=free). I went to Walmart and got a few balloons filled with helium ($8?) My husband grilled hotdogs on the grill, I'd made a dip for a veg tray I put together, I made cupcakes out of a box mix, we brought his favorite CD, and had a dinosaur pinata hanging from a tree. 2 other kids came, and 3 of my friends: they ate, played on the playground and chased each other around, fed the ducks, and hit the pinata. That was it. I felt bad that it was thrown together so last minute and no other kids came (though I'd invited 6 other kids). Thought I'd failed him somehow. But at the end when we were picking up everything, he stood on the bench so he could look my friend in the eye and said "Thank you come my party" and when we got home he told me he had SO much fun. I say don't hire someone else, and don't make it more work than it needs to be!!! A few games when they get older, some food they don't normally eat, and a lot of love is all a kid needs. (Well, and my son says balloons).
9 moms found this helpful
D.P. answers from Pittsburgh on August 17, 2010
Here's the deal. I feel that for MANY mothers, the birthday party has been elevated to the status of having a 3 car garage or a condo on the Mayan Riviera! It's a birthday party for goodness sake! It's like some super über-mom competition or something nowadays! Remember pin the tail on the donkey, cake, ice cream and goodbye? Now it's "themes", treat bags, craft projects, destination parties--UGH.
If your daughter had fun then you did a great job. I'm sure she did. My son is 7, and to tell you the truth, 7 yo boys would have fun running around like maniacs in a yard for 2 hours with NO games, NO theme and NO crafts involved. I have seen this with my own eyes.
It's all about their friends, being together and goofing around.
Don't be so hard on yourself.
You're a smart mom by having a party that FIT into your budget. Too many people live beyond their means b/c they feel they "have" to! Chin up, Mom, I'll bet your daughter had a BLAST!
7 moms found this helpful
B.K. answers from San Francisco on August 17, 2010
Please don't be so hard on yourself.
Here in Ireland we recently had a party for our three year old similar to yours-10 kids etc(but hostess was good) and we saw it as a great success.
Just a thought-is the American culture gone too obsessed with materialism.Dont get got in this trap-providing a loving ,safe home for your child is the most important thing.
When she's older she will remember how well Mummy treated her not how many were at her 4th birthday.
Be kind to yourself
5 moms found this helpful
L.P. answers from Orlando on August 17, 2010
Did your 4 year old have fun? That's all that matters. As for those people who were "surprised", ignore them. For years, I felt like we were throwing "lame" birthday parties because only a few kids would show up, I made my own cakes, and many times I didn't hand out party favors. We would have the party in our back yard, with baby pools and squirt guns and those footballs that soak up water because we couldn't afford the party places. You know what I found out? My kids had fun because their true friends were there. Their friends had fun because they were hanging out with my kids. And I only ever had one kid ask about the party favors, and he's never returned, so he wasn't a true friend. To heck with the parents--your child's party is not for them.
4 moms found this helpful
D.F. answers from Boston on August 17, 2010
Did your daughter have a good time. That all I would care about. You had her party with 10 kids and I bet they had a good time. No worries and dont stress over what other mothers say. As long as your daughter was happy so should you!
3 moms found this helpful
P.M. answers from Portland on August 17, 2010
A recent survey in Parents magazine revealed that one of most respondents' main gripes is parents comparing themselves and their families. Talk about a way to feel insecure. We will ALWAYS find someone who has a cuter figure, whose child walked earlier, or who threw a more chichi party.
Do what you can for YOUR children, YOUR way, for YOUR own reasons, and call it good. It's the best you can do, right? Don't torture yourself, J., or you'll strip all the possible sweetness out of those memories. Stick with the smiles, the giggles, the kid energy, and you'll be happy, too. That's the only part that really counts.
3 moms found this helpful
S.B. answers from Kansas City on August 17, 2010
i throw small family b-day parties at our house that consist of cake and sandwiches. You went way more out there.
3 moms found this helpful
T.K. answers from Dallas on August 17, 2010
The only opinion that matters is your little princess. If she had fun and felt special, than mission accomplished mom.
2 moms found this helpful