Birthday Party Every Year?

Updated on September 15, 2013
L.G. asks from San Antonio, TX
27 answers

I have four kids ages seven to almost a year. I have done birthday party's for them every year (food, theme, piñata, cake, goodie bags etc) most of these parties take place in our home. So I am getting burned out with all the planning, preparing, cleaning and then cleaning again. They also do the bring cupcakes to school thing. I would like to switch them to a family dinner with presents and a cake. Is this unfair to the younger ones? Is there a cut off age? Do you have a party every year?

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answers from Minneapolis on

My grandparents had 5 kids and every kid got a birthday party every year. I grew up with 2 sisters (So 3 kids in the family), and we all got a birthday party every year. So yes, I'm hoping to keep that going with my kids.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Oops! I must be the only Mum that does not have a party for her kids every year. We have 3 boys. I did a 5th birthday party for the oldest where the entire class was invited so around 20kids. He is heading on 9 and my rule was a party every 5 years....I now realise that might have been a bit spread out. Maybe I'll rethink it to every 3 years. Each year however I do make a cake myself for them, we have gifts (not that they really NEED anything more), and they get to choose what they want for dinner that night. I blow up a few balloons and we sound the "trumpets" and sing Happy Birthday. As they get older I have noticed the whole class no longer gets invited but rather a few closer friends which is great from both points of view.
I grew up never having birthday parties and that was the way it was though, I think my husband didn't have many parties either. I do have to say even now I shy away from 'throwing soirees" - not really the party girl I think 😐

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

We are gradually getting away from parties (we have 6 kids ages 4 -12) for the older ones and let them pick 3 or 4 friends to go somewhere instead. Like laser tag, the movies, etc. Then usually out for ice cream after. It seems like less and less people rsvp to parties anymore and I dread planning parties especially at the house. It's expensive and I hate cleaning for the party then cleaning again after it's over.

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answers from New York on

Well, a 15-year-old might not want goody bags and a piñata!

I think the "cut off age" happens naturally. Don't worry, you won't be doing these parties forever. Until they are about ten, I think annual parties make sense. After that, when kids are in middle school and high school, you can order a pizza and rent a movie for a small group of friends, let them sleep over, stuff like that.

ETA: Don't prohibit your child from celebrating with friends. If the party is stressful to you, drop them off at a roller rink or something. But don't let your party stress mean that your kids are prevented from celebrating with friends.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We did a lot of parties at our home because I thought it was cheaper. We did a roller skating party this year and it was the best money we ever spent! All we did is show up! The venue took care of the rest. We kept the guest list small so it really wasn't more expensive in the long run and there wasn't any cleanup or really any planning at all!

So many places have birthday parties nowadays. My daughter went to 2 parties at a pet store!

I highly suggest looking around for venues to have it at. Keep the guest list small and let them do all the work!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I have three kids and they pretty much had a party every year from about 6 to 12 or so. I also mostly did parties at home (because I enjoyed doing it that way) but I never did anything over the top. The kids were allowed a certain number of friends, anywhere from four to twelve kids depending on the ages and activity we were doing (less kids if it was going to be a slumber party for example.) I usually did parties in the afternoon so it was just cake and ice cream, and punch, maybe a few snacks like bowls of pretzels and grapes.
I think birthday parties are only as much work as you make them.
Of course you should do whatever YOU are comfortable with, I'm just suggesting that if you scale back (size, budget, extras) you can still have a fun party that's not such a stressful production. All kids really want on their special day is to play with their friends, eat cake and open presents!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I am so offering up to my DS next year what Laurie A. mentions. I had already thought about it earlier tonight. Let my kiddo invite 4 or 5 friends and we all go to the movies or something. I hate the wondering who will show up part and hoping my kiddo isn't crushed when one of his friends doesn't come deal. This way it is cheaper, with no party prep and breakdown, and we can just call mom's and ask them if we can run to the movies or miniature golf or something...

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

Parties don't have to be over the top. My kids didn't have parties with friends until they turned 4. We have done themes, but for the most part the theme only shows up in the cake and the plates and cups. Luckily my kids have summer birthdays so 3 of the 4 parties we have done have been at the park. I have planned one or two activities (blew bubbles, a piñata, decorated paper guitars) and after cake and gifts they have just played. One of those parties it was even pouring rain. We were under a picnic shelter but the kids had a ball playing with umbrellas in the rain.

For the first time this year we had our daughter's party at a small locally owned toy store that hosts kids' parties. Best deal ever! I made the cake and they did everything else (invitations, paper products, crafts, gift bags, decorations, games). Totally stress free!! At first I kind of cringed at the price, but a month later I found that in doing everything for my son's party I spent significantly more money and time. And that was a party at the park where I provided everything (invitations, gift bags, two small crafts, paper products, decorations, cake, lemonade, etc.).

Keep parties small, simple, and short. I always plan mine so I don't have to plan food other than cake. Gift bags probably aren't necessary. Kids are happy just being able to play. They don't need a lot of orchestrated activities.

Check at places in your community that might host parties. Museums, zoos, gymnastics centers, sports complexes, nature centers, art centers, historical sites, bounce houses, swim pools, and other places often will host parties. Some can be pretty expensive, but if you have hosted parties that included everything you might find that they really aren't any more expensive.

Also check unusual places. I know someone who set up a party at a vet clinic. The vet gave them a tour and told the kids about her job. Then they went to a nearby park for cake. No gift bags, no decorations, about 6 kids and she had several of the kids tell her it was the best party they had ever been to. The next year she invited an exterminator to come to her back yard and talk to her bug loving daughter and her friends about bugs.

I know some of my favorite memories from my childhood and from my kids' childhoods so far have been birthday parties. None of my memories are of big elaborate parties.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

So far yes, but I only have two kids. And they are still young. I think I'll keep it up (I'm having a 3rd) but a party can be as simple as a family dinner, or three friends over for slip n slide and some cupcakes. So I figure I'll scale up or down depending on the mood. The 3rd is due about a week before the 2nd ones b-day so I can't imagine having 2 blowouts a week apart every year. But I'll do something.

Last year for the first time I did an off site party for the 6 year old and it sure was easy. Tray of sandwiches and cupcakes, and the "Little Gym" took care of the rest. I'd definitely do that again. As much as I enjoy hosting at my was a major relief to do it that way.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

We have always had parties for our kids. But, we have always had them be family parties as you suggested, but they invite their friends to them also. Sometimes when they were younger we would have a "water party" for them with just their friends but that wasn't too big a deal.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I have 3 daughters. We have a family party one year, and then a kid party the next. After my oldest turned 14...she just has sleep overs with her closest friends and I make a cake & have entertainment :). Hope that helps!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We do have a party every year, but it can vary. Maybe change it to one good friend per age, so the 4 yr old invites 4 kids and so forth. For the younger ages especially, it can be simple. My DD wanted a birthday party with butterflies and dinosaurs, so I got some wings off Oriental Trading and that was the major activity (to paint them). Letting them have a playdate with cake can be just as good as a bounce house.

When they are older, get their input and make them do some of the work. One year, SD just wanted a particular cake, eleventybillion friends (we cut her off at 20) and they filed the trampoline with balloons and sat in it. With SS, his 16th was at home and he and his buddies brought over extra tvs, routers and game systems and we let them set up team HALO and just threw food at them periodically.

I think the goodie bags ended by middle school. I tend to keep them simple. A little bag. Some inexpensive sunglasses, a pencil and a rubber toy. Voila. Or skip it and just do a craft they take home.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

We mix it up. For our daughter, one year it was a party, one year it was a smaller sleep-over, one year we went as a family on a road trip, one year we went camping. Same with our son. We will keep the guest list low on anything we do, but once in a while, it will be the whole-class, blow-out party with everyone they know.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

Can you start an every-other-year party tradition? That will help you 50%. There will still be an event their friends may be invited to - and in the in-between years they can have fun with the family. We had four children and this plan worked well for us - giving us two parties in twelve months instead of four. (They took cupcakes to school every year.)

Even the parties don't have to be elaborate ones, as long as there's a lot of fun and food. Sometimes back yard parties are more fun than anything.

Keep in mind that once your children are older (say, out of grade school), they may not want a big party every year anyhow. Take that as a light at the end of the tunnel if you wish.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

We do a party every year, but I only have two kids. We do not have huge parties. The boys only invite their closest friends, usually 6-8 kids, and I usually do the party at a venue outside of the home. I don't know if my older son will want a party next year when he turns 12 or not. I guess we will see what his friends are doing.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

My kids are almost exactly 5 years apart with my oldest turning 12 in March. I do one birthday party for the two of them with family and friends. I plan to keep this up till my oldest is 16 and he probably wont want anything to do with them anymore anyhow.
I have done simple at home parties with friends and family. The year my daughter was born we just took our son out to Chuckie Cheese and did a small party and let him and a couple friends play.
I do a just us on their actual birthday then come April is when I have the bigger party due to the weather. Mainly leaving it all up to them.



answers from San Francisco on

You could cut out the goodie bags and pinatas, and keep the parties a lot more simple, to make it easier on yourself.

But I think little kids should get parties every year with their friends. I stopped giving mine annual parties when they were in high school, because at that point I didn't know all of their friends and I figured if they wanted a party they could make their own.


answers from Boise on

We always have a party, but we don't always do a 'big' party. Some years one kid might have a friend party, other years none, and then some years one or two of them will. It really depends on what I want to do, and if the child ask for one.

I pulled back because with 8 kids, most with June/July/August birthdays it started to feel like all we did was have parties. They're a lot of work and not cheap to do, so instead we spend the money on the child. We still have cake, and ice cream, and all of the hoopla, just not all of the extra people and expense.

This year my 3rd oldest turned 21, and my 7th turned 7, we did a combined party at a park and then went to the pool. Everyone had a great time. We try to find things to do as a family. My kids, including the older ones, have never had a complaint. My older ones are in their 20's and then I have 4 more that are 12-3.

I've learned it's not about the party, but the memories. They all have great memories of their birthdays. That's what matters.



answers from Detroit on

Yep, 5 here ages baby to 7. Each gets a friend party that's hundreds of dollars at a place, then a family party with cake. And a school treat.

But hey, it's a celebration of them!

I would NEVER do a home party. That does sound stressful!!!
Obviously the baby does not have friend parties yet.

I am wondering if the friend party thing goes on forever...I mean, it'd stink to say no, sorry. Everyone else is having parties and inviting my kids. But at the same time, it's a lot of work with all the invites, thank you notes for kids just learning to write, etc.



answers from Chicago on

Are any of their birthdays close together?

We have 2 in September so I do 1 combo party with our closest friends and extended family in the middle of the month, then allow the kids to pick their favorite home cooked meal on their real birthday and they get just our immediate family special time that day.

We do balloons in their bedroom to wake up to, special lunch of their choice, their choice dinner and birthday cake for dessert on their actual birthday.

For their combo party, I let them each pick out cupcake design and themed table cloth along with individual piñatas, but 1 meal for me to put on for the whole group :)



answers from Oklahoma City on

I'd say that until they start school you should only do the family thing then after that you'll need to do the party thing.

BUT since you've already started it this way I suggest you lower your party plans to something simple. Do a place instead of home. Keep your home for family.

Do the party at a game place, McDonald's, Burger King, Chuck E. Cheese, skating rink, places you don't have to do anything but show up with a cake. No goodie bags, no ice cream, no gallons of pop but just some juice boxes or something.

It can be very easy and peaceful, no clean up, no mess at home. Just show up, smile, have fun, go home.
The natural time when big parties stop is when they start going to a school where they change classes each hour, like middle school or Jr. High. They don't have one classroom where they all sit there and learn anymore. This is a natural time for smaller parties with close friends.


answers from Dover on

We do a party every year but some years it's a bigger deal than others. I think that the younger ones get more out of the themes etc (as you described) so maybe start the transition now with the older ones and as each of them hit that age it will be the new norm. Then still recognize the "big years"...13, 16, 18, & 21.



answers from Boston on

Yes we do parties every year for our 4 kids. I feel your pain, but this is the one day a year that is *theirs* and to me, that's important. Make it easy and have the ones for the older kids somewhere outside of your home. Sure it's more expensive, but you're in and out in 2 hours top and they do everything for you.

My oldest son is 15 and for the past couple of years he has opted to not do a "party" so we instead have him invite a couple of friends for a special outing. Last year was a dinner at a restaurant that isn't normally in our budget and this past year was a concert (his friends paid for their tickets but I drove everyone and brought them all out for dinner before the show). But the other kids still want a party - my 15-year-old daughter normally has some friends over and a few stay the night. My 7 & 9 year old boys either opt for a pool party at home or to go one of the birthday party factories around here.



answers from Washington DC on

Most kids don't understand birthday parties until 3 or 4, so with the youngest, I would switch to just family. With the older ones either go to every other year, just milestones, or give them the option of a party or a larger gift. Also with the older ones maybe start taking a couple of kids to the movies or bowling. This way they still have a party, but you don't have to do any work.



answers from San Francisco on

I have a party every year for my kids because it's important to me. I grew up that way and it means a lot to me. However, I don't think it's necessary, especially for the younger kids who don't care.

I have one friend who did only family dinners until her oldest turned five, and then he started getting parties with friends (her three year old is still family only). I have other friends who do parties with friends only every other year.

My son's school, fortunately, does not allow any treats to be brought in for birthdays. At least that cuts out one thing for me.

Do what works for you.


answers from Houston on

Yep. I was mom to only one. Why does a party tire you out? Are you trying to live like the tv housewives of everywhere? Have cake and ice cream. The kids will entertain themselves with small games like badminton, a jump house or even just a slip and slide.



answers from Bloomington on

I have 4 , also. We do not do parties every year. Of course we do something special but not always a party.

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