What Do You Do for Your Kids Birthday Parties? Do You Invite Your Family?

Updated on October 03, 2012
V.D. asks from Smithfield, UT
21 answers

I'm curious what you for your child birthdays. Do you combine both your husbands and your family for a combined birthday celebration? Just pick one family each year? No family birthday get together, just have a party with your immidiate family (mom & dad plus siblings)? Then what do you do when your kids get old enough they want a friends party?

I'm not sure how to handle this year. Both my daughter's birthdays are 9 days apart and in the past we've combined them since they were so young. This year I think I'll combine them since they will be 3 and 5 and still love to do everything together. I think I can still make it special for each of them. Plus on their actual birthday i like to make them a special breakfast.

Now the other concern I've had in the past was who to invite to the party. Last year Idid a combined party my husbands parents, my mother and step-father, and my dad and a few other neutral parties. This year though I will be inviteing the same above plus my dad got married. Talk about an uncomfortable situation for many. My mom doesn't really like to be around my dad and I'm sure my dads new wife won't want to be around my mom, plus I don't really get along with my in-laws. (I invite them at my husbands request). So what's the best way to handle this tricky situation? (forget them all and take the kids to disneyland? lol)

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answers from Charlotte on

We always had separate ones. One for my family and my mom's house or mine, one for my husband's family at my inlaw's house, and one for their friends at a play venue of some sort.

That way the kids got to enjoy more than one celebration and we didn't have too many people. Too many people ends up with adults paying attention to each other and it's not a birthday for the child anymore, but a reunion...


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

When they were little, we had family parties and invited everyone who lived close enough to come. It didn't matter if people were divorced; everyone played nice for the kids.

We only had one typical party where we invited kids from my son's class, and we had that at a skating rink. We only invited his friends, and my parents to that one. My youngest skipped that type of party altogether.

Now both of my boys choose to have a couple of friends spend the night. We order pizza and they watch movies, or sometimes we go somewhere fun. We don't invite any family members. My parents still take the boys out to eat somewhere fun to celebrate their birthdays, and my husband and I do the same (sometimes that is all one big occasion). I also make them a cake or dessert of choice and a special breakfast, too. My MIL mails them cards with money; she lives out of state.

This works well for us.

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answers from Seattle on

When my oldest now 9 was that young we did family parties however now that both of my two are in school I'm finding it easier to either do friend parties or just have a special night out or event with just my family. By that I mean my daughter, son, husband and myself.

If you don't foresee things going well with all the people whom you're inviting I would say to change your party plan. However, seeing as they(the invited guests)are adults attending a children's party I would most certainly hope that they would be there to celebrate and check their issues at the door. I realize this may not be able to happen.

I hope that no matter what you do it all works out well for you and yours.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

With your situation, invite who you want. If the other adults can't be adult about it and put aside their differences for your kids, then they don't deserve to be there. I would have one big party with everyone and whoever wants to come and be cordial comes. Let them know that you have invited all so they can choose. I have a blended family and that is what we do. Works out well so I don't have to play games.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

I do a friends party on the weekend, and a family dinner on my son's actual birthday. :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Since this is the first year since your dad's new wife, I say invite everyone you listed and let them decide whether to attend and how to act.

I suspect all will behave like adults.

If they don't, then you know in the future you will, at least for a few years until the parents can grow up, take the kids to disneyland (or, if not in the budget, have a party at the local museum KIDS ONLY!)

Good luck to you! Try not to stress....do NOT let them affect you or your children's happiness.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

My kids birthdays are one week apart exactly and they also turned 3 and 5 this year! I like for my kids to each have their own separate party. I know lots of people think I'm crazy, and I very well may be, but that's what I do and I like it. Since my daughter turned 3 she's been having mostly just "friend" parties. I feel like the grandparents deserve to be invited to all the parties b/c they're the grandparents. I've had aunts and uncles request to come to her friend party and of course I'm fine with it, I just don't go out of my way to specifically invite them. So, for my son's parties we do all our friends and all our family and it's a huge bash. Some people still bring presents for my daughter at his party, mostly family that didn't come to the other party, and it's a great time. I'm not sure when I'll start the friend-only party for my son. His friends are mostly the same friends as his sister or at the very least their little brothers and sisters. We do have a few friends just his age and maybe next year when he starts preschool we'll do a smaller party for him, but who knows. In the future, my goal is to have them each have a small-ish friend only party and then on the weekend we'll have all the family over for cake and ice cream.

So, in your case yes, I'd definitely invite everyone! Most people will be fine and I'm sure your mom will avoid your dad and it sounds like there will be enough people to do that without being too conspicuous! ;) As far as you not getting along with your in laws, well you have to invite them, they are your kids family too. Just grin and bear it and talk about them after they leave! ;) Just kidding...kind of.

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answers from New York on

Invite them all, just don't count on everyone being big enough to show up. We have difficulty on my husband's side where his mother gets very anxious any time there is anything to do with his father and his second wife. I try not to allow her negativity cloud our day.

If they all live close enough, and you are willing to go the extra mile, you can have a kid party at your house, then go round to the respective houses with your own cupcakes in tow. Sallie and Suzie can blow out candles at your mom's, at your dad's and at the inlaws, receive their presents, say their thank yous, grab some photos and be done with the affair.

I bet the girls wouldn't mind having multiple birthday celebrations.

Good luck to you and yours,
F. B.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I think 5 was the age my son had his first friends party. We did Chuck-e-Cheese with friends and then I had both our families at our house afterwards. Mine are also 2 years apart (actual bdays are 3 weeks apart).

I understand your reluctance to make everyone uncomfortable, but there are going to be a lot more birthdays, programs and everything else that everyone will need to get together for. Why not start now?

When you do start with the separate friends bday parties, then you could just invite the families for a joint dinner to celebrate both birthdays.

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answers from Washington DC on

When she was younger, we invited more of our friends with kids vs just her friends. Now that DD is older, we do invite the cousins but also her genuine friends vs just everybody. If you think it would be uncomfortable for the grands and would rather it just be a kid party, then talk to them each about a visit with the girls so they can focus on the kids vs it being a madhouse. Don't even get into how they feel about other grands in the kids' lives. Make it more about a special visit with that set on that day, even if the visits take a couple of weeks. My FIL is uncomfortable in crowds and was quite happy to be left out this year. I made it more about DD's friends vs the family and everyone understood.

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answers from Colorado Springs on

Let your kids each invite say 6 of their friends & invite both sides of the family. You can concentrate on the kids having a good time & periodically make sure that the family is enjoying themselves. But this is your kids birthday, so it is their day. The grown ups are just that, grown ups, so they should act like they are & understand today is about the kids (grandchildren) not that your dad has a new wife & your mom is their to. They don't have to talk to each other. Heck if one of them shows that they are having a good time in spite of the other being there, it may show to the other, it isn't so bad & enjoy themselves also.

Best of luck to you & Happy Birthday to your kids,

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answers from Tampa on

Our kids always get 2 Birthday "parties". One is the actual day of their birth, and is not really so much a party, but is the immediate family and maybe my Mom (who lives close by) and we have cake, ice cream, and a special dinner. We have even let the birthday child pick a place to go out to eat, depending on what birthday it was, (a milestone year or not) and of course our financial situation at the time. We would give the child their birthday gifts from us on that night too, simply so they would have something to open, and also so they didn't get too overloaded with gifts at their party later. Also, we would either go to a special movie if one had come out that they wanted to see, or if there was nothing new in the theatres that the birthday child wanted to see, we would all watch a favorite DVD together, and maybe go for a swim in the pool after. It really depended on which child and what time of year. Most of the kids birthdays are in the wqarmer months, but we do have a January birthday and the pool isn't an option for her birthday. Then, for the actual big birthday party, which is always after their actual date of birth, we invite friends, family from both sides, and whatever children they want to invite. We have done everything from huge BBQ's at our home with the pool and those big rented water slides and bounce houses, to pony rides and petting zoos that come to your house, to laser tag parties, parties at the local playground, rollerskating parties, bowlng parties, clowns, magic shows, pizza parties, and even went without the big party and for a tenth birthday decided to instead take a weekend away at Universal studios to go visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and we stayed right at one of the hotels on the property. We have done most of the different things that you can do for a kids birthday, even rented a limo and took 12 girls out for dinner and a show for one of our older daughters birthdays when she was a teen. I always did include both sides of our family when we had parties though, simply because we didn't want to have more than one party. The family would come for a while, and then would leave before the party was over, leaving the rest of the party for just the kids to enjoy. (as they were older) The one real exception to this was in the event of sleepovers. I didn't invite any family members to those parties, but we only did maybe 4 in all the years we have been having parties for our kids. (our oldest is 22) I didn't see the point in inviting any family members to a sleepover party, although I guess they could have come and had pizza and cake, and then left after the birthday child opened their gifts? It never was really a problem for us, because we always planned whatever the CHILD wanted, and we could afford. We have actually decided after all these years, (and we still have a 9 yr old and an 11 yr old), that we are toning the birthday party thing WAY down now. A couple years ago we changed our "party rules" and if it isn't a milestone year, they can have a birthday party, but it isn't a huge gangbusters party liike they have been in the past. It was just getting way too crazy, and honestly, the kids seemed to enjoy the really mellow ones that were more inexpensive and laid back just as much as the way over the top really expensive ones. We just couldn't see the reason for all of that time and money being spent that way anymore. OUr kids were happy with either type of party. My family would be invited to whatever I planned, and they would have to get along and suck it up for the few hours that they were there, or just don't come. They are supposed to be adults. Aren't they? Good luck!

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answers from Provo on

We do one family party. The grown ups need to act like grown ups and get over themselves for an hour or two. My husband comes from parents who have divorced an each remarries more than once, but that is their life and their choice and we tried to dance around it the first few years we were married and had kids and realize that it was a nightmare trying to accommodate them. We were not going to schedule two (or more) of everything for the rest of our lives-and some big things like baptisms can't be done more than once to accommodate them-so we nipped it in the bud when our kids were little.
I was pleasantly surprised to see everyone (mostly) be good a out it and at Least put on a happy face and pretend to like each other, even when my father in law was married to someone we all very very strongly disliked to ten years. We just put on our happy faces too and focused on the child! :)
And ironically today is my son's sixth bday...time to get the whole mess of family together again this weekend! Thankfully at this point I can say that I am genuinely looking forward to it, even if it is still awkward.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Just have a party for family and be done with it. If they want to come they'll come. I do a kids party for kids only, my friends kids, classmates, etc...with no family invited. This is a kids party. Then we often have some sort of get together that is a family activity.

After they start school they really won't be wanting any family parties. They'll only want a friends/kids party.



answers from Bloomington on

I totally see why you are quesitoning all of this. We are planning my daughter's 5 year party the weekend before THanksgiving. If we separated families, had a friend party, and celebrate when we go back to MN to see more family and close friends (we moved away from there a year ago), she'd have 4 parties! No thanks.

So, we've decided to only have the celebration in MN and one combined one here....AND have Thanksgiving dinner that same evening (we live 2 hours from local family). No friend party. I'll take in something special for her at school on her birthday and offer to read a story to the class.

I think in the future, when she is older and has actual friends, we'll stop having an extended birthday party. Extended family can celebrate with her at Thanksgiving (a week or two away). With the youngest, we'll piggy back on Easter if it falls close enough.

If I were you, I would have a combined birthday party for both kids and invite both sides of the family. They can get over themselves. Like others have said, they had better get used to it. It's not your fault that they separated and chose other spouses. It's not your responsibility to appease them. :) Happy bday to your girls!



answers from Savannah on

I understand what it is like to have concerns about family discomforts. While my husband's parents are still married, my parents are divorced and both remarried. My grandfather is also remarried, a VERY short time after my grandmother's death, which left many in the family extremely upset. Since my husband is in the service, we moved 2500 miles from our families, when our son was only 4 weeks old. Many in our large families did not even get the chance to meet him at all. When we went back home to visit our families six months later, we had his baptism, and it was a HUGE get together. We decided to invite everyone, because this celebration was for our son, and not anyone else. Some people came to the church and said their hellos, but did not stay for the reception, and others left the reception fairly quickly. This made everyone as comfortable as they could be.

Since this is a children's birthday party, I would invite all, and those who are not comfortable will either opt not to come, or only stay a short while. Friends will want to stay longer, and it is not unusual for adults to leave a children's party early anyway. Good luck and stop stressing!



answers from Kansas City on

We have a party for our son and his friends. It's his day! (he will be 5 at the end of the year.) If his actual birthday is different than the day of his party, we have presents and cake at our house. My parents always ask to come, and do; husband's mother does not ask or attend (anymore; she did come to his first 2). So, no formal invite or anything, but people know we will be at home.

For the actual party, we let my parents (and my brother in town) know that there will be one for his friends at XX location on XX day if they want to come see him play/see his friends/have a piece of cake. Husband's mom stated after party #2 that she doesn't have any fun at his parties and hasn't shown any interest since. My brother usually skips the kid thing, totally understandable. My parents show up for a bit to see him, meet the friends he's talked about, but don't stay the whole time if it's something like swimming or skating after the cake. Also understandable.

I'm not in a situation with any step/separated families so I don't know what I would do if actually faced with it. But my gut/surface instinct is that it is about the children, not the adults. Invite them all to whatever you want them to attend and let them decide how grown up they really want to be.



answers from Provo on

My boys' birthdays are 5 days apart. I couldn't do everything they wanted this year, so I drew a bunch of boxes on a paper and wrote something in each one: friends, Grandma & Grandpa, laser tag, play at a park, party games, cake, icecream, presents from parents. Then I asked each boy to choose the most important thing to him among all these items. We kept choosing until the boys had chosen the most I could reasonable do. Some things cancel others out, like we can only do laser tag or presents from mom and dad, but not both. When it comes to guests, I ask the kids, "If you could only invite one person to the party, who would it be?" then "If you could only invite 2 people to the party, who would they be?" Some of their choices will add more people, like Grandpa and Grandma go together or choosing one child from a neighbor family means all 3 kids will be invited. I keep increasing the number until I have met my limit. Then we have a list of people to invite and the kids know that no one else can be invited because that's as many as Mom can handle. So this year, their dad will be taking them to do laser tag on one birthday as their gift from mom and dad. The other birthday will be a friends party with party games, cake, and icecream, and 8 friends.. I'm just relieved that they agreed on the party theme this year! Good luck!



answers from Washington DC on

My son is turning 4 in a few weeks. He goes to preschool. I invite his preschool friends as well as some of our family friends that have smaller kids. The only family we invite is grandparents and my brother's family who lives close by and who has 2 little boys. Most of hubbys family lives out of state and I would not expect them to drive 6 hours for a 4 year old party (if they were closer by I would invite the ones with small kids). We are now doing things like My Gym, Petting Farm and Bounce House parties. I did his first 2 b-days at home and invited all family and our friends with kids. Now its really more about just the kiddos for the party.



answers from Phoenix on

You throw one party. The people that want to come, will come. The people that are too childish to get over their issues with others who will be at the party either decide to a) be an adult and suck it up for the kids or b) continue to be selfish & not go. Their issues are their issues, and not your problem.



answers from Denver on

My boy is 6, so I know what you're going through! :)
My inlaws are almost exclusively Mormon, which isn't a problem for me, but my family is a partying type family (read: lots of drinking for every occasion). For a couple of years I had one large party at a bounce house. It worked out fairly well, it's not like you can drink in those places anyway so I never had to bring it up. And since it's such a high energy *kid* place there wasn't a whole lot of adult interaction anyway. BUT it was expensive.
Most recently I've done two parties at home. One a smaller family dinner on his actual birthday (his choice of food) with the in laws & my dad and one on the weekend with my family & close friends. Although I did make SURE that my MIL knew she could come to the big party (even if I made it sound, hmmm, less fun for her) she chose to come during the week.
Sadly, my boy isn't old enough to want "friend" parties yet... I hope it get easier!

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