How Would You Handle This Complicated Situation with Family and Birthday Party?

Updated on October 17, 2010
V.D. asks from Smithfield, UT
18 answers

I'll try to make this brief. The full story is much more complicated.

1st problem is this: My daughters will be turning 3 and 1 so since their birthdays are only 9 days apart would it be ok to have just 1 birthday party? I think that they are young enough that they wouldn't feel deprived of their own party.

2nd problem is: Between my husbands family and my family have lots of complicated issues. Not with the two families, but within each family. I would love to have everyone who loves my girls and are part of their lives come to their party. My family: My parents are divorced and though my father has no problem with my mom or her family, my mom has a problem being around him. They are both a special part of my girls lives. I'd love to have both of them at their party. My husbands family: His growing up situation wasn't very positive as far as his parents went and most of his siblings have nothing to do with his parents. He has several brothers and sisters that are in our daughters lives. His parents haven't been part of my daughters lives till just recently by their choice. (we've never excluded them) If we invite his parents most if not all of his siblings will not come. But if we don't invite his parents it will make them feel hurt. My husbands siblings have good reason not to want to be around them. (I don't think they are been petty. My husband has problems with them as well) So what would you do? Apparently I can't please everyone so what should I do? Last year in efforts to plan a party is was so much frustration dealing with family we bagged it and had a small intimate party with just my mom, grandma and my husband and I. Now that my daughters are turning 3 and 1 I thought that my 3 yr old would have fun with more family and cousins to play with. Shouldn't this be fun and not frustrating to plan a birthday party? Money is really tight and I can't afford to do multiple birthday parties to please everyone.

What would you do? I'd appreciate any ideas.

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answers from Tulsa on

Have a party for her friends and go all out, have an intimate family dinner with various family members and have a gift giving time then. Every relative doesn't have to come to a kids party. If money is tight and you can't have multiple dinners with family coming over then just invite them for dessert and gift time.

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answers from Chicago on

Ok, I have Quite the simmilar issues in my family and to make it short and sweet here goes:
1.yes, throw the single party until they ask for something different
2.Who's BIRTHDAY PARTY is it?? Is the birthday party for you, your family, your husband's family? I thought it was for your girls and if the family can not put up and shut up for ummmm 3-5hrs one or two days a year for your children then they are not putting our children's thier best interests at heart and maybe they should hear that from you & your husband.
As adults we all have to do things we dont like, mostly for people we may not like so how hard is it to ask them to do things they dont like for two little girls they supposedly love WHO HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT ANYWAYS. Sorry to seem so harsh but when adults (not you obviously) act like children it gets to me.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Luis Obispo on

My 2¢: this is a birthday party for your girls - its about *them* and what will be fun for them! Your extended family sounds like a very tough situation, but realistically, you are not going to please everyone.

That said, invite both your parents and hopefully your mom can bury the hatchet for this party or she can decide to not go. But don't let her issues w/your dad control your kids party - this is the first in many years of family get togethers you're going to be navigating: start as you mean to finish.

Your in-laws: invite them and let the aunts and uncles know in advance that the party is for your girls and you hope they will be there for *them*. I can relate to the aunts and uncles about wanting to avoid someone but you can't make their issues w/their parents YOUR issues. Everyone, with the exception of the birthday girls, are adults and can conduct themselves as such.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I am experiencing a very similar situation and this is what I did. I had a party this summer for my youngest daughter. My mother in-law and father in-law are divorced and cannot be in the same room or an argument would soon follow. My mother in-law is extremely bitter about the divorce and my father in-law cheated on her and is on his third marriage. His current wife just happens to be much younger than him. So with that said, my husband and I assessed and made a list of people we wanted to invite and be apart of our girl's lives and also those that have expressed or shown interest in doing the same. We invited both my in-laws and kind of de-briefed over the phone very directly and said, "We want both sides to be apart of the girl's lives and to attend the party. We expect mature behavior and do not want drama. So for one day, leave it be and enjoy your grandkids. We will not accept anything less than that." We left it at that and they came...ignored one another...but you know what? It worked! No drama that we could see or hear and the girls loved seeing both of them. You should NEVER have to feel obligated to throw two parties for other people's convenience and comfortability. They are adults and they are entering your home and wanting to be apart of your life. Make your expectations known with all of them and remind's for your kid's memories...and if they care enough....they can for ONE DAY..avoid conflict. Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I feel bad for you it sounds like too much drama to deal with.
I would politely tell everyone you are having a party for your daughters. All the family is invited. If someone has a problem with that you understand and you hope to get togeher soon. This party is about your daughters. Even in the best situation the whole list of people normally will not be able to attend. Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Send out invitations, since you are talking about adults, they should be able to put aside any greivesses they may have for one day, if not they do not have to attend. As for doing their birthdays together yes, my husband's birthday is May 24th, our daughter's is may 27th and our sister inlaw's is may 28th and we have family bar b Q's celebrated them all together many times, it's easier than expecting familys to attend 3 events so close together. J.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I don't think I would combine the parties. 1 is a "big" birthday, and at age 3, your older child is not going to want to share "her" day.

Your 3 year old doesn't really have any expectations about what kind of party to expect, except for what she has learned from you. She will not be expecting loads of family from every direction, unless you have led her to expect it.

I would just have an intimate party again. Just the immediate family with a small cake and gifts, maybe. If you want to do "more" for your other daughter's birthday, being that it is her FIRST birthday, then invite the family, and let them make their decisions about whether or not to come. My husband always tells me, you can't plan "around" everyone else. Just give the invitation and let them make their decision about whether or not to come. That's really all you can do. If hubby's sibs don't want to come celebrate their niece's first birthday b/c his parents might be there, then they won't come. So what? She is going to be 1. ONE. She is not going to notice or care. I'd bet that they will still do something to recognize her birthday, even if they don't come to the party. But you are making a wreck out of yourself trying to figure out everyone else's drama. Don't. Just invite who you'd like to come, and let them decide if they want to be there. The end. If your husband doesn't want to invite his parents, then don't invite them, but otherwise....

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lansing on

Unless you have a birthday party every day or every week, I don't see why your families cannot act mature for one birthday party. Can't they cooperate, get along and act like adults for a couple hours, sheesh a birthday party for kids doesn't last more than a couple hours. Invite whomever and those that want to act mature will come and those that want to act immature will stay home. Once the kids get older you can ask them if they want an all inclusive families birthday party, more times than not the kids will say no, they just want their friends invited to their birthday party, and then you'll be off the hook. Wishing you the best in planning this birthday party.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Throw one party the way YOU would want to if it wasn't for the family drama. If everyone can't put aside the differences for one day to celebrate the birthdays of your girls, that is their problem, not yours. Regardless, your kids should have a party - since money is tight, just try to do something special and individual for each girl so they can both feel it's their special day. If the other family members decline, so be it. They should go out of their way to make the birthdays special, not the other way around. You don't deserve the hassle and your girls deserve some fun - they are too young to understand the family dynamics and hopefully won't notice who does or doesn't show up.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Keep things simple. The 1 year old is celebrating the first year of life and really should have a party alone with all the family there. Keep the time frame for the party short at about 1 and 1/2 hours, simple cake and ice cream, take plenty of pictures too.

The party for the 3 year old should be just for the cousins, have them dropped off and let the parents know when they can pick up their little bundle of love. At this party you can have a few simple games, if you must have food spaghetti is an excellent choice, cake and icecream. This party should be between 2-4 hours long and you should have help with entertaining your young guests.

This way you have had a party for both girls and the family was involved even if on the outskirts. Over time everyone will need to be a little more mature about the state of things and the girls will have more input about who they would like to have or not regarding family.

I hope this helps. You may also consider staggering times of arrival and departure for certain of your guests with a 30 minute window between guests to cover any possible overlap in visiting. We used to do this in my family but not everybody is ok with ex-wives/husbands and half brothers and sisters and all other kinds of combinations when it comes to family events but we have been at this for over 25 years.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

i would just invite who's invited, and if any one doesn't want to come because of their own issues, their loss, if they come, ask them to keep all grudges out the door or leave. if chaos starts during the birthday party, tell ALL involved to leave

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dover on

Yes, have a joint party. They are close enough in age AND young enough that it will be great. Make sure when they get older you do some separate (especially any of the big ones).

I would invite everyone you or your girls would want to be there. If they come, they come. If they don't, they don't. I have always invited all sides of my family and my husbands (and for my son, even my exhusband's family). They all act appropriately when they are together even those that may not care for one another. It is not about them, it is about those precious little ones. If you absolutely can't invite your in-laws, I would have them over on each of your girls actual birthdays for either dinner and cake or just cake at home.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

There are several answers to your second question - I agree that you should invite everyone who you think would like to share in the festivities, and let them decide. If an online invitation makes sense, that would be one way that those who are uncomfortable can see who is planning to attend and make their choices accordingly.

As to the joint party, my sister has two (a boy and a girl, who are now in their late teens) who have birthdays two weeks apart. She always had one party more or less in the middle, with two cakes. They were always fine with it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Relieve yourself of this burden! You don't make all of the who to/who not to invite.
What I'd do is have a joint party and invite everyone you want to invite. Let THEM decide whether to come or not on their own.
That's the way to do it rather than have people be offended by YOU guys deciding who to leave out. Let them accept or decline the invitations like the adults they are.
Good luck & have fun!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from McAllen on

Have a party for your husbands siblings like you planned.
I know you can't have multiple b-day parties, but do a small evening get together with your hubby's parents that includes a small cake (a betty crocker that you made) and a simple dinner.

Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

well unless you can have 5 parties, i say have one party, invite all. once calls start, tell them all, if you love my children, you will try to make it, that you tried your darnest and this is the only option for you.
the rest: let them deal with their problems. you cannot fix their problems, nor can you try to keep them separate. hoping they'll behave.
as for having a b-day party for the 3 and 1 year old...totally fine. they're too young. you'd be inviting same people anyhow. it will change once the older one goes to school and makes her own friends. then you'll have two separate parties.



answers from Boise on

One party is just fine for the two of them.

As for the family, what I do is this - invite them all. They can make the decision to be there for your daughters and suck it up and be civil or not come. If anyone is rude there, you can ask them to leave (make sure your husband is on board with this beforehand). Make sure that there is enough seating and tables so that they can separate themselves if they need to, but this is about your daughters, not about the adult issues. Now the stress and frustration is on them, and not on you. Happy birthday to your girls.


answers from Houston on

Do one party for both children, ours are around the same days apart and at such a young age, it doesn't matter. When they are teens and have their own sets of friends, ee will do separate parties then.

From personal experience, have ONE party. Do NOT cater to people who can't get along, even if it is justified. They can suck it up for two hours in order to celebrate their kids and if they can't then they have bigger issues. Everyone can learn to smile and be cordial or ignore each other at special occasion events. If you have to talk with people that you expect everyone to be on their best behavior at the party like another mom suggested, then you should do that.

If you make a separate little party just this one time, then it will be expected every time and it will only turn out to be a big stinking hassle for the rest of the kid's party days (and Christmas and Easter and Halloween and any other time you have a get together for the kids).

My sister does this so our mom and mil won't have to go to the same party b/c they don't like each other... frankly it gets ridiculous to have to throw 2 parties just to make one or two people happy, and she can't afford it and is extremely busy herself, but she is finally learning to put her foot down and stop it.

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