34 answers

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.

What can I do next?

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!

Featured Answers

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

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!

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

More Answers

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

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

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
Positive Vibes
B.

5 moms found this helpful

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

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

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

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

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

YOU did great! It's unfortunate that you got the hostess that you did. They are payed to be in control, calm and to make you feel like your party is their priority. If anyone *failed*, it was the party venue for not delivering a party!
Your guests commenting on your guest list was rude! It's none of their business who you invite to your own party.
You are MORE than adequate as a mother! Your intention was to give your daughter a special day......your best was DEFINITELY good enough!

2 moms found this helpful

We were in the birthday circuit, as we called it, when my son was in daycare and we went to all kinds of parties at movie theatres, houses, parks, Chuck E Cheese, you name it. Some spent a lot of money and some were obviously very economical, but the kids had fun no matter what and they certainly didn't judge the parties by how much was spent or how good the hostess was. All they cared about was the fact that they were at a party celebrating their friend's birthday. Don't let the small things bother you. You did a great job and your child is so lucky.

2 moms found this helpful

The important thing is "did your daughter have fun?" If the answer to that is "yes", then it doesn't matter what the adults think. I have so many relatives that no two parties have the same people attending. And even when my relatives KNOW that someone can't make it because of their schedules, they still act shocked "what, So-and-so isn't here?!?" My husband worked shift work for the first 20 years of our marriage and HAD to work weekends. Still, I always got "why isn't D here? why can't he take the weekends off when we have a party?" even though the KNEW he couldn't because he didn't have seniority, plus with my family it was get-together every couple of weeks! Don't let it stress you, even though that is easier said than done! You did a great job, now ignore the humbugs! :)

2 moms found this helpful

Nobody is holding the party against you. If anything, they weren't impressed with the location for their own future reference. I HATE WHEN PLACES DO THAT-it's happened to us all. Dont' worry. The kids had a blast. No none else cares. It's REALLY hard-I commend you for trying! I latched on to two moms and tagged my daughter onto their party a month later than her birthday because I couldn't do it alone. You did great! A birthday party does not a mother make! Your daughter loves you-it's over-you'll be awesome next year!

2 moms found this helpful

I just do at home bdays with 7 friends if my son is turing 7 etc. And this year i was asking myself the same thing, "DID i just throw a totally lame party???!"
I love planing the party and getting the plates and napkins and usually i am happy and don't care that it was just at our house. I've been doing this for 6 years adn they have been so fun. But this year, some kids couldn't come, some didn't even RSVP so it was super small, It was SUPER Hot, my husband who was supposed to help was in a snit over something and was just being a pain, and one of the boys we invited that my son loves was totally wild and i had to talk to him to setttle down and it was just awful. When it was all over, i was almost in tears. Once i got over it though, i asked my son if he had fun and he said Yes, so i guess that's what counts. Sometimes you just can't controll everything and you have to let it go.
So if it helps, my lame party beats your lame party :)

2 moms found this helpful

Did you daughter have a good time??? That is the ultimate goal isn't it? She doesn't care that your other (adult) guests "noticed" that someone else wasn't there...she didn't notice that the party room was a little big for the amount of guests...she doesn't even care that the hostess wasn't on the top of her job!!!
Don't worry about what others think....you were very wise not to do overboard and spend more money than you could afford!! Don't beat yourself up...I am sure your daughter had a great time at her party!!!

1 mom found this helpful

Wow, don't be so hard on yourself. You did much more than we've EVER done for our kids, and my hubby is a physician with no financial worries. Our birthday parties consist of my sister and BIL coming over with their 2 kids for pizza, cake and ice cream, and lots of unstructured play. So far no complaints from my older son, as he adores his cousins and has a blast playing with them. Maybe when he's older and has school friends we'll begin to include some of them, but even then it'll stay pretty tame.

1 mom found this helpful

Who cares what others think, there is no such thing as a lame birthday party.

My daughter also turned 4 yesterday and we had her party on Saturday. We held it at a park, my daughter picked three families to come (two had kids her age, the other one had older kids but my daughter loves them) plus my parent's, my brothers & hubby's parents... in total it was 15 people (9 adults, 6 kids).

We had held the party at the park (free), grabbed two picnic tables and had subs, fresh fruit, salad, chips and cake. The kids got to play on the playground (free), adults played basketball or volleyball (both free) or chat, and from home I brought coloring books, cryaons, balls & playdoh (since I already had them free, otherwise you can get them at a dollar store for next to nothing). Besides the food (which totaled up to $50 and people offered to bring something since it was a picnic setting) I bought a pinata ($15), candy ($10) and bubbles (on sale 10 sm containers $5).

So all in all I spent $80 for 15 people and it was a wonderful 3 hours of fun and chating. Everyone loved it and it was so down to earth that one of the families, who do not celebrate birthday's because they think people put too much emphasie on them, actaully said that they will start doing small ones just like this because it was more about enjoying time with friends instead of focused on getting gifts, and the birthday.

1 mom found this helpful

Do NOT give yourself a hard time. I bet the kids had a good time! 10 children is plenty for a 4 year old's party. I agree with the others, birthday parties have gone way over the top, and the kids don't even care, they just enjoy running around together!!! I am fretting over my 4 year old's upcoming party, planning to do just family but in our family that means both the parents come and I have to cater for them (dads = beer)...and we are so broke right now. I guess a lot of us are in the same boat!!

1 mom found this helpful

Did your daughter have fun?? Did you get to see her face light up at least once??? Who cares about everyone else!? It's obvious that you're doing a GREAT job because you're even worried about it. Frills and fluff aren't everything. :-)

1 mom found this helpful

Don't worry about it. It's not a great b-day party that makes you a great Mom. The fact that you care about your child makes you a great Mom and the fact that you are stressing about her happiness shows you are great. People will always complain, whether its from ignorance, rudeness, or just they don't know what to say. I know what you're going through though. Last year we did my son's b-day party (I booked it for 3 hours )at a pool with a water slide and our "best friends" showed up 2 and a half hours late....reason being that "time just got away from them". Needless to say I was a little ticked and was stressing if i had offended them in any way to have them hurt my child like that. On the other hand his true friends were there to celebrate with him. That's when I realized a b-day party is fun for a day but the memories of your child of how you acted when they showed you a really "unique" artwork they made and you post it proudly helps shape their entire person for life. Good luck and enjoy your daughter.

1 mom found this helpful

I SO agree with Denise that parties have become ridiculous displays of disposable income. Everyone tries to out-do each other and see how many zillions of kids they can invite. It's pointless and displays completely mixed up values!

We followed the "age" rule with our son - when he was 4, he had 4 friends. When he was six, he had 6 friends. Period. We did home parties with scavenger hunts and played "pin the tail on the ____" - that was the extent of our "themes"! If we had a dinosaur party, we pinned the tail on the stegosaurus and hunted for plastic "dinosaur" eggs, which contained the only treats they got. No expensive goodie bags! One year, he had an "insect" party and the kids decorated a cupcake to look like a bug. That was it.

I didn't want 30 kids there because it's too much, I didn't want my child to get 30 presents, and I didn't want to spend the next year shlepping him to 30 additional parties!

I'm sorry you had a bad experience and were rushed out of the party place, but I agree it's all about the kids having a good time. It's totally rude of the guests to inquire as to who is NOT there and why! Who do they think they are??

The truth is, you gave your 4 year old a party she could handle, you did not overwhelm her with a zillion kids, and even though you felt rushed, the party probably lasted the right amount of time for kids that young. For next year, I would consider scaling back even more! Resist the pressure to join this absurd competition to overwhelm and overspend - maybe if enough of us do it, these big extravaganzas will fade away! YOU are not inadequate as a mother - it's the people who feel the need to show off and get out of control that really have a problem with self-esteem!

1 mom found this helpful

Uggh... I hate this. When I was a kid I never got parties like these kids today. My mom would take me and a friend to an amusement park. I think you did great! I myself am going through the same thing as you. My son's 1st birthday will be small at home party. He doesn't have friends yet, we don't have the room for alot of people at our place and we don't have the money to do something extravagant. You did what you could, Don't stress over it.

Updated

Uggh... I hate this. When I was a kid I never got parties like these kids today. My mom would take me and a friend to an amusement park. I think you did great! I myself am going through the same thing as you. My son's 1st birthday will be small at home party. He doesn't have friends yet, we don't have the room for alot of people at our place and we don't have the money to do something extravagant. You did what you could, Don't stress over it.

1 mom found this helpful

I honestly don't think anyone here would tell you that you had a lame birthday party...I'm sure your 4 year old didn't see it that way. You are putting unecessary pressure on yourself (we all do). As far as any other parents, the party isn't for them and their should keep their judgement to themselves...The hostess is NOT YOUR fault - that could happen whether you had 10 or 50 kids at a party place. Being rushed? I personally feel that parties at any party place ARE RUSHED. You have only a short window for your party and a lot to get in. That isn't exclusive to just YOUR party! 10 kids for a party place 4 year old birthday party sounds PERFECT to me. So, to recap - don't beat yourself up...sounds like you did just great and I'm sure your daughter is happy so thats all that matters!

1 mom found this helpful

I don't understand why birthdays have gotten so crazy!! I remember as a kid I would have a few kids over and we would just run around a play, maybe a couple of organized games but then we would sit down and eat cake and ice cream and the kids went home... I think you seem like you did a great job. There is no need to go crazy and do a big lavish birthday. You child just turned 4, she will probably not even remember what birthday parties are like at this young age.. The kids have a great time and usually the smaller it is the better gives them more room to play. Don't worry about what the other adults think, it's not for them, it's for the kids. For whatever reason we adults have been taught that we have to spend a lot of money on our kids for them to be happy, when the opposite is true. The more they learn to appreciate the simple the better. good job mom.

1 mom found this helpful

Oh honey, your fine! I am sure your little one won't drag you onto Oprah over a birthday party. I quit the birthday party thing a long time ago. I have four kids and each time it seemed the party had to get bigger and more expensive. Instead we take a family day trip and the birthday child gets to choose where. We love it!! I don't drag friends for the most part. It's just family.

1 mom found this helpful

hi, you did great, a lots of parents dont even make a party for their kids.
i am sure kids had fun and were happy. we as parents sometimes feel like what we do is not enough but its only because we are good parents, if we wouldnt we would never care.
you did good job, you are good mom.
your baby is lucky to have you

1 mom found this helpful

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

My parties are just like this every child will have their 1st party at a rental shelter house why just is.I bake small round a cake for them just them with candles decorated the larger cake for everyone else is decorated how they want it such as themed added on toy's etc it can be very creative not just going out to by one but yes it can get expensive.All other parties are here at our house it'as not huge but it accomadates our large families plus my friends and their kids.We have lunch ready to go for everyone a few deserts other than cake and ice cream some inlaws bring in pies my aunt brings in potato salad we have soda & juice.Our menu is hamburgers, hot dogs,fried chicken (Walmart) chips,baked beans,chees dip & chips,pasta salad.We basically feed an army.I was out of control on buying toys for my kids I had to tame it down.Don't be so hard on yourself we have budget changes as well it is hard because I love goodie bags I always have to have them with suckers,stickers,silly straws,hot wheels,tattoos.This yr I want to not invite as many of my husbands relatives and keep it to mainly grandparents aunts and uncles and of course my good friends and their young kids my husbands side doesn't have young kids any more that enjoy parties.
The party is over with don't feel bad you did what you had to do for your child there is so many parties that are ridiculous do you actually think that your child woyuld of rememred a carnival style party with clowns,inflatables,games,petting zoo that is so way out there good for those who like those but seriously i'd rather spend my money time and effort on something I created planned & enjoyed...

A little creativity goes a long way. I am sure your party was FINE, and I bet YOU can have more fun at home next year if you get into the spirit. Yes, the party is for the KIDS, but that doesn't mean that Mom isn't ALLOWED to have fun.

Decide FOR YOU which parts are a hassle (my SAHD husband won't bake a cake, and I don't have time - it's the middle of July so we buy one from DQ), and which parts are fun (coming up with a craft game maybe?).

And stop beating yourself up. Good luck!

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

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!

GOOD GRIEF!! She is 4 and doesnt care. So relax and know you did your best. In fact the stress you were under to give her a 'perfect' party probably took away from her enjoyment. Next year take her and ONE friend to a movie or the zoo. She will have much more fun and you wont spend more than you can afford.

Nope. But then I would have invited four kids, probably to my house or a family member's and been done with it so maybe I'm even more lame? I have very spotty memories of my birthday parties growing up but I can tell you that none of them were ever at a party place and most of them involved swimming in Lake Michigan. Aside from that it's all a blur. A pleasant blur, but a blur none the less.

oh my gosh, do not beat yourself up. Kids birthday parties are such a hassle as it is, whether they're inexpensive or not. My son is only 3 and I HATE planning his parties already. I think they are so unnecessary. When I was growing up, we always just had small family parties and I was allowed to choose a few friends to come for a sleepover. Nothing fancy but I enjoyed it and remember it. As long as the kids were happy and your daughter had a good time, that's what it's all about. You're a great Mom for even worrying about something like this.
L.

Sorry that you weren't happy with the party. Remember that it's for a 4 year old, the party is not for the parents. Kids will have fun no matter what. If the hostess was not good, I would complain to the management.

If it's the kids who were surprised that certain kids were not invited, kids have no filter and assume if they see kids at birthday parties, they'll be at all the parties. 4 year olds can't be expected to understand the finances involved and that not everyone can make a huge birthday party for 24 kids. If it's the parents, they SHOULD know better especially realizing that you are out of work and finances must be tight but birthday parties have just gotten so out of hand and so have the expectations for them. Don't let these ridiculous expectations make you feel badly. The important question is, did your daughter have a good time? That's the focus of the day, not whether you impressed anyone or had the best party ever.

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.