2 Birthday Parties?

Updated on May 09, 2012
J.F. asks from Columbus, OH
11 answers

My daughter is turning 3 and this year I want kids around for her to play with. Here is my problem. My entire family comes to her birthday party so there isn't much room for anyone else, plus they enjoy the time with her so if there are kids, she won't be hanging with the fam nor do I expect the parents of kids to hang out with my family who they don't know. Also, I invited a couple kids last year and while the hubs was talking to some friends, he asked them if they were coming...well, they weren't invited. Their kids are 4 and 6 years older and I had to keep the extra invitees to a minimum...needless to say, we were both embarrassed (mind you, this is after I told him who was and who wasn't invited - ugh) Do I do 2 birthday parties? Here are my thoughts. Family party at the house with food, cake and presents. Kids party at the park for couple hours with cupcakes and play, no presents. Let me explain no presents. I will have presents for her to open at the park, but she gets so much from the family, we don't need more, plus I want the kids to come and don't want parents feeling like they have to buy her something (no one has extra cash). I want to suggest they bring a food pantry item instead. One, the cost for them is low, two, I am teaching my girl to give vs always receiving. Thoughts? Am I asking to much for a 3 year old? When do you start doing "kid only" parties.

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answers from Elkhart on

I personally think 3 is too young for a friends party. At that age, it seems like kids barely play together and it's hard to keep their focus if you try to do games or activities. I would wait a couple of years until she has friends at school.

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answers from Washington DC on

We started the 2 party thing when each kid was 2y. There are family members that don't want to share their time with a few of the neighbors :)

Your plan sounds fine. For the friend's invite, just state what you said here. 'Kayla is reading about helping others. So in leui of gifts, please bring a non-perishable item for the local food pantry'.
'Kayla saw the cutest pups picture in the paper. In leui of gifts, please consider bringing a donation for the pups at the shelter'

A local shelter here has posted several pics this week about kids who instead of gifts asked for donations for the pups.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

I would ask your family to do the food pantry thing instead of friends. Im interested to hear your responses, my daughter turns 3 this summer, I am looking forward to when we get to the point where she can just invite a few girlfriends over for fun or a sleepover and we dont have to feed and invite everyone we know or are related to.



answers from Pittsburgh on

We always had a "family" party and a "kid" party.
I think what you've outlined is fine...but I wouldn't try to do them on the same day! LOL


answers from St. Louis on

We did a Kids only party last year as well as a family party (we also have a large family). it turned into three parties *for two kids who's birthdays are close togther*. So it turned out that I bought three cakes and we 'celebrated' three different days. I'd rather keep it all in one day! True, they will get a lot more presents (kids do enjoy buying their friends gifts so think about that when asking for no presents). I would feel bad going to a birthday party without a gift even if they say no gifts. But that is just me! So this year - we'll either do it at Chuck E Cheese or my parents house (pool!) and invite everyone. If the family doesn't get one on one time with my kids, then they can come over on a different date or skip the birthdya party altogether and come by to give her the gift on a different date. As far as extra invitees and older kids, we have so many different friends with kids of all ages - we usually have kids anywhere from 0-15 at the party for my almost 3 and 5 year old. If it's a home party and we have games for the little kids, I try to think of a fun activity for the older kids, too :)

I also want to add that as my kids get older, they can have a large party somewhere (Chuck E Cheese, movies, etc) with NO gifts from us or a home party with gifts from us. Their choice :) And when they are old enough to ASK to have only friends (like for a sleepover), we'll then just do a birthday dinner at a certain location and let all family members know and it's up to them if they want to show.

Good luck in your decision!



answers from San Antonio on

When my daughter was 1, we had a party for family and then another one for a few of our friends. Worked out fine. The main reason we did it was because the family wanted a party for my daughter and her cousin together (because they'd all be at our house for our daughter's baptism the next day, and they're from out of town), and it would have been awkward to invite friends to a party when there was one guest of honor that they didn't know. But, whatever the circumstances, it worked out fine, so there's no reason you can't do it, as long as you're willing.

I was reading online about parties where people bring donations instead of gifts, and one site said not to do it for 3 and 4-year-olds. They were saying that some preschoolers would have difficulty understanding the donation concept and would feel they'd done something wrong if all their gifts were taken away. Our son was adopted from China, and we asked for donations to his orphanage in lieu of presents when he was 2, so he didn't know the difference. He's 4 now, and we may do that again in a couple years. However, we have a 4-year-old friend who did donations instead of gifts at a party, and he seemed to do fine, so I think it probably matters how mature your own kid is. I think he understands more than my four-year-old. It is a terrific way for kids to learn about giving back.



answers from Cleveland on

Do it! My family makes huge deals out of birthdays so there is never "any room" for outsiders. LOL We have a small house so we do a family only party and then a "let's hang out at the park gathering" for the friends. I try to keep the word birthday out of it because many parents still feel obligated to bring presents. I like the idea of a small food contribution. I never thought of that. I am going to try that next time. Thanks for the idea.

One other item I should mention is that 2 parties are a pain in the butt. However, my son and daughter's birthdays are 10 days apart so we do 2 joint parties. One with family where child #1 gets to pick the food and one with friends at park or wherever where child #2 gets to pick food or some other aspect of the party. This way even though they have joint parties they each get to have a bit of control. We also let each child be the "King/Queen" of the house on the actual day of their birthday. It works well for our family.



answers from Cleveland on

I started having "kids only" parties when my kids turned 5. But I only do "kids only" parties every other year. But do what works best for you :)



answers from Denver on

I personally can't imagine a scenario where my soon to be 3 y.o. had enough friends of "their own" that a separate party was needed, or would be appreciated by said child. My kids don't do friend parties until school starts for them. Up until then, you are really just asking the parents to give up 2 hours of THEIR time to bring their kid to a playdate. (Because I can't imagine ANY parent would leave a 3 year old at a friend's house for a party!) Is this a situation where they have made little friends at daycare or something? If so, can you just take cupcakes into their daycare one day?
Either way, I'd do different parties if you choose to do 2. Family usually feels weird around the kid's friends, their parents, etc. Plus, the birthday child will be off with friends, and its harder to tell her to mingle with relatives. But, I would really reconsider the friend parties at this age. Unless it is really about the adults getting together (maybe you have friends who have kids her age?) In that case, just have a cookout or playdate, and forget trying to incorporate her birthday into the mix.


answers from La Crosse on

she is only going to be 3. I wouldn't worry to much about the friends until she is kindergarden or first grade.

Then you can choose what you want to do.

For us.. our boys have birthday's aug 4, aug, 18 then Sept 21. It got too hard to have 3 parties so close together. So we do the family parties ( the two aug b-days we do together since the boys go to their dad's e/o weekend). Then right around halloween we have a big party with all of thier friends and its far enough from their birthday nobody brings gifts.

Plus we have no extra money in Aug for big parties, our daughters birthday is Aug 29 and right around the 15th is the begining of school and school pics etc.. so this works best for us, plus all the kids love being able to come dressed up and I don't have to think of a theme every year!

If you want a friends party I would choose a different day or weekend close to her birthday to do it if its too crowded with just family.



answers from Columbus on

I've done two parties lots of times. But then I also combine parties too! Both my children are September babies so I have one "family only" party and then they each have their "friends only" party. So, it actually ends up being three parties. And no, I'm not rich! I do relatively cheap parties; usually a simple cook out and home-made cake. Everyone plays outside and everyone is happy.

I found that when we combined parties it always ended up adults in one area, kids in the other and the family members never even got to see the kids.

I do think, however, three is awfully young to say "no gifts" - I'm not sure she would understand and/or appreciate the art of "giving" just yet. But I totally understand you wanting to teach her. My kids are both very giving people and learned a lot by watching us, their parents. I would just let the guests decide what they can, or can't give. And if they call to ask for suggestions, I would use that opportunity to tell them something inexpensive.

Good luck!!

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