Should We Have a Birthday Party?

Updated on August 29, 2013
C.B. asks from Irving, TX
11 answers

My kids are 4 and 5. We've had family birthday parties but never one where we invited friends. We usually do a special meal, cake, and a day out doing something fun, usually just the 4 of us. As a family we are fine with this level of birthday celebration.

We moved to a new city a few months ago and the kids go to a private school. The school is much more intimate that the public schools in our previous city and there are many friendships there...between moms and dads just as much as between the kids it seems. There are also lots of birthday parties...and the majority of the class attends, with both moms and dads coming along too. Being new, we've accepted all the invites in an effort to meet people and make connections.

It's time to start thinking about my 5yr old's 6th birthday. Is it "proper" to have a party since we've been attending other parties?

I can see both sides of the coin here...on one hand, if we normally wouldn't have a party, why start now? We should continue to do what suits our family. When I host an event (a playdate or lunch date or whatever) I do it because *I* want to. I don't assume the other person then has to host me and my kids to make it even...I host for my own pleasure of hosting. This kind of thinking lets me "off the hook" for the birthday party issue. Parents host birthday parties for their own children and it does not obligate other parents to host parties as well.

On the other hand, I can see how it would be socially appropriate to host a party since we've been attending the parties other parents have invited us to. I'm not really a "party person" so if we do host a party it will definitely be at a location and centered around an activity...either bowling, mini golf, rollerskating, house of bounce, etc. Some kind of preset party package would be my go-to kind of gig. But I still feel like we'd be having a party out of social obligation, not because we really wanted to.

Finally, my oldest will sometimes comment "Oh, I'll have my birthday party here" when we are bowling or skating and he sees a party there. I always find this a bit humorous since he's never had a party. Also, unless he is watching a birthday party in progress, he doesn't think about his birthday or ask for a party. I'm not sure he's old enough to really care one way or the other. Maybe I just shouldn't worry about it until he is old enough to think about it a few months ahead of time and ask for a party?

So what's the consensus? Birthday party or not? Thanks for your opinions!

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Here's the thing. Before school it's totally about family. After a child starts going to school birthday parties have nothing to do with family any more. It's all about the friends at school.

Sorry, kiddo deserves a party with his friends and not any more family parties. As he gets older, maybe Jr. High, he'll start wanting to do a few friends and do something special. Right now he's supposed to be having fun with his friends.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on

Well I'm a bit like you, and not.
I AM a party person!
But to me that means cake & ice cream, a few snacks, some games and crafts, a pinata, just good old fashioned birthday fun. Maybe a bounce house jumpy thing.
To me going to a location would be MORE work, more money, more hassle.
Also we started "friend" parties in K, which means that (most) parents didn't stay.
It was all about my kid and a handful (6 to 10) of friends.
No pressure to "entertain" the adults. No pressure to have it at the top venue.
Do what YOU want to do. YOU are the one throwing the party, so it should be something you're comfortable with.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

Why not? It doesn't have to be fancy, and it can be fun for everybody. If you choose a venue away from your house, find out the total cost and what bells and whistles you'll get for it. Asking your children's friends' parents is a good way to get guidance on that. But ask your child first. And a party at your house might be more relaxing and more affordable.

You could look at this this way: a part of your children's social education is learning to be both a good guest and a good host - and a birthday party is a fine way for them to begin learning. Since you're in a more partied (so to speak) environment, take advantage of it. In addition, children need to learn that hospitality is a good skill to have. You don't have to be showing off to entertain; you just want to enjoy the people you invite and help them enjoy themselves for an hour or two. Your children may eventually gravitate toward smaller, quieter parties and you'll be happier, but this may be a fine time to start and see how things go.

My granddaughters the Princesses (three sisters) each have a birthday party with their friends *and* a party with their relatives - if two parties will fit into the family's busy schedule! Sometimes it doesn't, and the friends' party takes precedence.

Back when I was a kid and dinosaurs roamed the earth, we had a variety of birthday celebrations at my house. Sometimes it was a real honest-to-goodness party with games and everything. Sometimes it was inviting one friend to go with the family and me to dinner and a movie. When I was older, sometimes it was a sleepover party. It wasn't anything terrifically expensive - but all a child's party takes is friendly people, enough ideas to keep things moving, plenty of food, and a tolerance for noise.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New London on

If the kids in the class are having parties, then, I can see why your child is asking. I did not have class parties until my child was in 1st grade.
I invited the whole class to an outside park. All the parents helped me watch the kids. After that, I just had the close friends and only had 6 or 7 kids.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

If my child wanted a party, and I could put one together I would. This sounds like a fun group of families.

If you feel you are really not prepared at this time (nothing wrong with this) , let your child know, you are thinking about doing a Halloween party or a Christmas party instead.

Ans just do your family birthday celebration as usual.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I agree your kids are at the age where they want to have parties with their friends and rightfully so. We don't do the whole class though. Ours could get out of control between the class and neighborhood and trying to make everyone happy. We decided each year to do something small with just best friends and plan to continue that. Last year he picked 4 best friends and we took them to do something. I think we all enjoyed it more and it enabled us to do something more quality vs quantity!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

If your kid wants a party, have one. If he would rather have your traditional celebration, do that.
You are not obligated to hold a party just because your kid attended other people's parties.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My boys have had parties from 1 year on....the 1st year was for Daddy and I....2 through 5 - we had neighborhood kids so they were SMALL parties. My daughter? We were moving during her birthday's - and overseas. So she had family outings - just the 3 of us. Once she made friends, we had a small sleep over for her.

There are families that do not have parties for their birthday's. You need to decide what will work for your family and your budget. You do NOT have to get caught up in "keeping up with the Jones'"

If you want to have parties - make sure you stay within your comfort zone and budget. Don't go overboard. The choice is yours.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

Honestly, I don't keep track of who comes to my kids parties or whose parties they have gone to. I don't think anyone would find it weird that your children didn't have a birthday party. Do what you feel comfortable with and don't worry about how others perceive you.



answers from Miami on


I have to say that Mary's point about a social education is indeed valid. I wanted to add a few more ideas:

First, boys don't have elaborate bday parties as long as girls do. By the time they are 3rd grade, they are more likely to have boys only small activities for their birthdays rather than mixed-gender larger parties. So I am not sure if you have two boys or not but for at least one boy, your days of parties are limited.

Second, if you do not have a party, than there will be people who will not invite your children in the future. That is just a fact of life. If you are seen as not reciprocating - than you will drop off the list. If you can't afford to do a party or have a health type reason for not doing one - you might be excused (I got a pass the year I had a newborn!).

Third, by having the party you are helping to socially integrate your children as well as yourself and your husband into the social life of the school. You are new to the area and you will find as your children get older there is nothing better than being able to contact another mother for assistance in driving carpools, sharing childcare, learn about sports, etc.

I am not the best at hosting parties but have gotten a lot better at it over the years. Practice makes perfect! We went through this with my 7 year old - his preschool friends are still our best friends and the moms that I call upon when I need a village.




answers from Omaha on

I am a party person; my son has had a birthday party every year of his life. He is in 1st grade now and involved in sports so I let him pick the kids he wanted to come to his 6th birthday. My best friends have kids around the same age and my son so those have always been his "friends" and they were always at all of his previous parties and he picked them to come to this party as well. I believe there is only a short time when kids really get excited about their birthdays so as long as he still gets excited I will have parties for him.

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