Friends' Birthday Party

Updated on July 09, 2012
L.M. asks from Chicago, IL
24 answers

My daughter will be 7 in Sept - 1st grade. In K she was invited to lots of birthday parties and loved going to each one - most were quite extravagant. At kids oriented places they rented out. I think one was in a home. She has been asking and asking to have a birthday party with her friends only (i.e. all the girls in her class, plus a couple others).

Here is the problem. I have a large extended family with lots of Grandmas, Great Aunts, Aunts and cousins that we invite each year to a family birthday party - there are usually about 20-25 guests. I can not justify the cost or time to throw 2 birthday parties - that just seems over the top and excessive to me.

In addition, her birthday is a month after school starts and that seems so early to invite kids to a party. Also, what I do for my daughter I'll have to do for my son....

Also, skipping the family birthday party and throwing a friends birthday party instead is not an option - my family would be offended. It's our tradition to throw birthday parties until the child is 12 - then it tappers off to immediate family and close friends.

My daughter is so social, loves making and having friends and she is asking almost daily to have a big party with other kids her age.

I know I have to make a decision and stick to it - give her 2 birthday parties or just stick to the one. I'm considering inviting her few friends she plays with regularly to the family one....

What have you done in this situation??

What can I do next?

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answers from Houston on

Family is forever. Have the family party.

Later in the year, when her school friends friends are established, let her have a fun "friend" party for another holiday (St. Pat's, Valentines, Ground Hog Day, April Fool's Day). It could become a fun tradition.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Yes, I know what you are talking about, with those huge family parties. Just have one and include the family and class mates, just cut down on the food part if you cannot afford all of it. .

In the beginning of of her school year she will not know many children, but she can still invite them.. In later years, she will have more friends.. And by 3rd grade she is going to want to do a sleepover with her friends anyway.. so you could do a sleep over on another day with 3 or 4 of her friends.. and have the family party. .

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I would let her invite 4 or 5 friends that you feel comfortable with inviting their parents as well, since it is a family party not a kids only free for all.

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answers from Boston on

Make one day party day. Have the friends over from 1-3 and family from 4-6. For the kid party indicate on the invitation that cake/ice cream will be served (or whatever you are planning on serving so parents know to feed the kids lunch beforehand). There are plenty of games etc you can do inexpensively. Then do a quick dinner for the adult party. I have gone to a party at someone's house that was divided like this (kids early and family later) and it seemed to work pretty well.

The other option is to keep birthday parties family affairs but allow your daughter to have a friend party at a different time of the year. You could allow her to invite a few friends over for a Halloween party, Holiday party, school vacation week party etc. Make the party 2 hours long and do some sort of craft and have a snack. That way your daughter can still invite people over. You don't need to make it a huge deal. My daughter was invited to a Valentine's Day Party where the kids all made love bugs and decorated cookies. Obviously there is an expense involved, but it doesn't have to be outrageous.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I tried to combine family and friends for a while, and it really didn't work very well. I also have 2 children. Right around 1st grade, we transitioned to a friends and immediate family party. Is the age of 12 your decision, or an extended family tradition? Every family is different, but if you need to do an extended family one, I would suggest doing it separately. It's too hard for the birthday child to split her attention between family and friends, and usually, it's the family that gets shorted. I know you don't want to do 2, but if you tone down both, it may work.

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answers from Cleveland on

As a guest i feel sooooo awkward when the parties are combined, I don't know your Aunt lula bell and i don't really want to stand and make small talk for 2 hrs, nor do I want to drop my kid off were there are alot of people i haven't met.

Cake and drinks, doesn't run that much. Tell your familyit's potluck if they insist on a full meal. Kids hardly eat anythign at parties either but i woudlnt' skip it, it might be the only time it's quiet.

Yes venue parties can be expensive, if you choose expensive venues. some have deals, some are cheaper depending on what day of the week you have it.

I also belive in the 1 guest per age of the chidl too. taht works really well.

finally Maybe just do friend parties on the big years, 5, 10, 16 somethign like that.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Since you feel obligated to invite the family I would suggest doing one party. One is stressful enough, why double the pressure?
I realize it's very trendy right now for families to throw over the top birthday parties at expensive public venues but I promise you not EVERYONE does this. Parties at home or at the park are still a lot of fun and they don't need to cost a lot of money.
First of all, you don't need to serve a bunch of food. Have the party from 2 to 4 and only serve some light and inexpensive snacks. The kids are usually too busy running around to eat anyway. Your only cost should be cake and ice cream. If the relatives "expect" to be fed a meal then tell them to arrive an hour ahead of time and you can do a simple lunch, like hot dogs and fruit salad.
Keep the budget down by planning no or low cost games and activities: pin the tail on the donkey, relay races, stuff like that. Have a treasure hunt in the yard using cheap little plastic toys, stickers, coins and small pieces of candy. The kids' treasures become their goody bags. Or do a pinata, again what the kids collect goes into their goody bags. I always like to have something crafty to do as well: sidewalk chalk, a bunch of paper and a brand new box of crayons, again, it doesn't need to be fancy or expensive.
And I HIGHLY recommend holding off on sending out the invites for as long as possible. Kids that age tend to change friends from year to year depending on who's in their class. She may have a very different set of friends once school starts!
If it's within your budget get a bounce house. We've done that several times and it's always been a hit. But again, NOT necessary. Kids really just want to play and eat cake and give and receive presents. Everything else is just fluff.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I would give my kid a combo friend/family party, or just a friend party.

What's more important? Appeasing your adult family or making your child happy? Seems like a no brainer to me. If the adults in your family can't be adaptable ONE time a year for the sake of your daughter, who is also their family member, I think they're pretty selfish.

It sounds like you're forgetting who the party is for, honestly.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

It's your child's birthday, I would honor her request and throw a "friends" party. Offend the relatives. It really isn't about them. They are adults, and they should understand. You don't have to follow this "tradition" I know some families that alternate years, one year family party, one year friend party. Or just go out to a restaurant with just the Grandparents for a birthday brunch or something. We did do 2 parties when our kids were younger, but not 2 huge events. At least one of the 2 or both were smaller gatherings than yours.

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answers from Washington DC on

I think that your daughter should have a say in what kind of party she wants to have. I think you will probably continue to have this problem and it will get worse as she gets older. B-day parties should be about the kid. When they are really little it is about the adults, but at age 7 she is probably very excited about her big day and probably has some specific ideas of what she wants to do. I certainly understand the time/money involved in having 2 parties though. Maybe you can come up with some choices that work for you, and then let her pick? For example, inviting friends to the family party, or vice versa. I think I would let her invite the whole class if she wants to. Its a good way to make friends early in the year and sets a nice example to the rest of the class about including everyone. If it was me, I would probably explain to family that my kid wants to have a kid type party, so I am sorry but we arent going to have a big family bash this year. What my family normally does is have a kid party on the closest weekend and then on the actual b-day we have the close family members over for pizza and cake. Maybe something like that would work?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Well, hmmm. I see your dilemma. We have quite a large family as well and my kids birthdays are one week apart and I kind of insist they have 2 separate parties (boy/girl 2 years apart), so September is a crazy month for me!

I say this...either do as Laurie suggests and have a combined party at your house for everyone. a bigger party for her and her friends and then do a very small family get-together for her birthday. You can just do cake and ice cream and keep it in the afternoon so that everyone is still getting together but you don't have to put on a huge "party", that way everyone is happy....and if your family isn't happy with that, then I think they are being unfair. My personal exception might be to include grandparents at the cool "friend" party if it's someplace that your rent out, b/c they really enjoy seeing those things, but that's it.

I think if your daughter is interested inviting her whole class it is something you should consider. She is obviously social and although they are not all her close friends now, in 1st grade they are all kind of close. Once she gets older, she'll probably have more a best friend or group of friends, besides this will be a good way to get to know everyone for her and for you!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

She is getting older, so skipping a friends party is going to get harder and harder each year. I know it is your family tradition to do a party together, but you have to remember that is your daughter's birthday and she should get to choose (within reason, of course), how to celebrate. So I would say to let her have the friends party with the girls she wants from school. Her friends won't have much fun at the family party and she won't get to spend quality time with her grandmas and aunts.

Since the family party is a must, do that too. It doesn't have to be expensive or extravagant, especially if it's not the main party. Have it at a park or at home, get pizza and have a fruit salad, plus cake. Or, have a brunch with bagels and cream cheese instead of pizza. Or, to save even more money, have it mid afternoon (2:00 - 4:00), skip the meal and just put out a couple of snacks plus cake.



answers from Chicago on

I normally have the family over on the actual birthday for cake and ice cream - the cake I make so there is little money spent. It's tight, as our house is small, but we make it work. If family members aren't able to attend on the actual birthday, I don't get upset but they know there won't be another one, unless they choose to attend the friend party, which is scheduled at a later date. The friend party we do spend money on, but we try to pair up with friends who have birthdays at similar times (so we split the cost), find an affordable place or limit the guest list. We haven't had any problems doing that :) Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

I too have to throw a family birthday party and find it hard to throw a big kid party as well. Their birthdays are both in the winter so an outside party is out. My solution, a sleepover bday party. Pretty inexpensive. Girls only, and just the girls she was friends with. Dinner is pizza or chicken tenders and homemade Mac & cheese. My first sleepover, I did with my oldest, I had all sorts of games. That went right out the window for the second sleepover because they just really wanted to be goofy, loud giggly girls. They watched a movie, had popcorn and it was bedtime before I knew it. There were some girl's parents that were not ok with the "sleeping over" part, so they stayed late and were picked up. We had donuts for breakfast. The first birthday was a huge success, and relatively inexpensive so that is what we do now.

Birthdays when school first starts is kind of tough. However, now that she has been in school with them for a year, it shouldn't be a big deal to invite her old friends. She will probably have a new friend, in first grade, that will be added to the list. Since the weather will still be nice, you can always do a outdoor old-school party games type party?



answers from Chicago on

Sounds like you answered your own question, "My daughter is so social, loves making and having friends and she is asking almost daily to have a big party with other kids her age."

You can't please everyone and if that means you give your daughter a party with friends then that's what is best for her. Invite family members over for cake and ice cream on a different day if you still feel it is not an option.

Hope this helps!



answers from Honolulu on

So how did all your relatives do it, per their kids' parties, until they were 12 years old?
That is a lot of money.
And it being perfunctory.
For us and our kids, we have parties, but limit the amount of guests. The guests are their friends. Not an entire classroom, nor the entire flock of relatives, either.
It is their friends. Who they regard as their friends or BFFs.
And we keep to a budget.
My kids are 5 and 9.
And we have always done it this way.

I would not do 2 separate parties.
That is just a budget buster. As well.
For the next 5 more years until she is 12, you will have to decide what kind of birthday parties to have for her.
But at a certain age, I believe it should be up to the child, who they want to invite and what kind of party. And the parent has the responsibility to limit the invitation list and budget.
My kids completely understand that.
And the relatives.



answers from Chicago on

A friend party doesn't have to be extravagant to be fun and well remembered. A homemade cake(from a box) can be easily decorated even if you are a non-creative none baker. I made one called under the sea and used jelly bellies for the rocky sandy bottom with crushed graham crackers. I used the spray can of color to color it the color of the ocean and gummy fish and even a few worms with licorice fishing lines. We did old fashioned games with clothes pins in the bottle, pin the tale, relay races, drip drip drench. For their party favor they painted a wood fish(craft, time taken up, from michaels originally .59 cents and went through several times with a coupon for 40% off). We used various shades of streamers in blues and greens to give an undersea feel. I made lemonade, fruit punch. My whole party was under 35.00. The kids had a blast. Everything was well planned. part in the yard, part in the house, part in the basement. So she and you could have your cake(her friend party) and eat it too(family party). I would not however combine them. Family parties where gifts are brought are usually very lopsided and someone gets at least mildly ignored.


answers from Kansas City on

what i think is, you have sent a precedent and put yourself in this predicament. some of us would be shocked and picking up our jaws off the floor at even the thought of having TWO birthday parties. my son is 6 and has never had a huge blowout like you're describing. he's had 1 that was at a (free, or donations-only) petting zoo, and one at our house. those were the ones that included anyone other than family, and it was less than 5 kids both times. all other birthdays have been family only.

i think it all comes down to your priorities and how much you are willing to spend per child. and none of us can answer that for you.


answers from Dallas on

Our girls are 8 and 5 and their birthdays are two weeks apart in February, so we do one big birthday party in February for both girls, with all of their friends and family. It's a big bash. Last year, we rented a pavillion out in the park, rented a bouncehouse, and brought a bunch of food and grilled hot dogs for everybody. The year before that we had a bounce house at our house and did the same. Next year, we are thinking a carnival theme with face painting and a clown, and carnival games.

The girls are getting to that age that they want to have their party at some sort of venue with their friends. We tentatively talked about a swimming party at the YMCA for them and their friends, and then we would probably gather just family on another day for cake & ice cream, no big deal. The family party doesn't have to be expensive. Have everyone bring a dish, make a cake, eat on inexpensive disposable plates, should be fine. If you have the other party for the friends, you've already spent enough money on that one!

So in my opinion, either one big one for everybody, or two smaller ones.



answers from Dallas on

My daughter is also a September birthday, and she's been talking about her birthday party for weeks now. Even though she may not know all her new classmates well at that point, they will be together all year and are better friends than parents may realize because they are together all day. Plus, they will be getting invites all year to their other classmates' parties.

In my family, we always had a bday party that was kids only and one that was just for family. So, I think that's a great idea. The family party was always just the family getting together at the house and socializing with a birthday theme/decor. The friend party was the fun party where we did the expensive activity. The day is about your daughter, not so much about your extended family. I'd let her have her friends and play a child appropriate party either at home or offsite vs having a family party that her friends happen to atend. Besides, the parents of your daughter's friends may not be dropping them off but rather staying with them, so that will be more people. 20-25 family members at an kid oriented places will run a lot of money, and most of the adult family members would probably be happier just going to your house than to the kid activity.



answers from Los Angeles on

For our daughter (July birthday) separate parties without a doubt. We have done simple gatherings for family and more activities for the classmate parties (jumper, games, piñatas) When she was in pre-school the school had them mix cupcakes and the birthday person got to choose what color icing. Every child in the class looked forward to the cupcakes in each birthday. I have toyed with the idea of somewhat combining family & friends; have the friends from 4-6, then family arrive sometime before the kids leave. However, my family does not welcome that idea, so we're back to a plain & simple family gathering. Happy Birthday to your daughter :)



answers from Chicago on

Who's birthday is it? Yours or hers? I would have given the birthday party my child wanted. It's her birthday after she's seven not 1 or 2. Family birthday parties are usually for smaller children. Once they reach school age, children want to have other kids around not older people. Otherwise, you are going to find out other kids won't invite her, because she never invited any friends to her birthday party. Save family gatherings for graduations, weddings, showers, baptism, confirmation, first communion to your families.



answers from St. Louis on

I think you should give her a choice - a friend party (and family party since that is not negotiable) with no gifts from you guys or a family party+friends (at the same party) and gifts. That would cut down on food/decoration/cake prices. I have a large extended family also but think once the kids want to start having 'friend' parties, we'll just do dinner out to celebrate my kids birthdays :)



answers from Phoenix on


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