Kids’ birthday parties these days have gone more ‘extra’ than ever. With celebrities posting online their over-the-top carnival-themed celebrations, complete with giant, bouncy castle inflatables, parents are all the more pressured to step it up. But here’s the thing, you don’t need to step it up. You don’t need to risk your sanity to express to your child how special they are. You don’t want your kids growing up, feeling that they’re entitled to extravagant things just because it’s their birthday. If you’ve been thinking about adding these things below to your kids’ party, you’re better off striking them out of your planning:
A long guest list
Whoever made the rule of inviting the whole class to a birthday party didn’t know how insane that is. Imagine having to deal with 10 to 20 kids in one room, running high on sugar and excitement over the pretty balloons and ribbons. Think about the expenses, too. You’re not only feeding every mouth, but also paying for the venue, decorations, magicians, among many others. But beyond the nerve-wracking experience of having so many guests, you have to understand the socio-emotional impact of this on your child. According to developmental psychologists, children start to form real friendships based on shared interests well before they hit grade school. Thus, it’s natural for them to only have a few peers during the toddler years. You want to preserve that, so they can experience the joys of relationships very early on. That said, invite-only a handful of their classmates. Be discreet in handing out invites, so as not to offend other peers and parents.
A 4-hour program
Celebrities usually treat their 4-year olds’ parties like wedding receptions. Speeches from different people. Lots of entertainment, with magic here, a special number there, and then dancing everywhere. In the end, you spent 4-5 hours celebrating. You won’t have the energy anymore to clean up the aftermath of the party. And you likely overpaid the venue because of your overtime. You don’t need a long program, honey. What you need are just the essentials: craft time, mealtime, and then blowing-the-candles time. At max, you’ll be done in about 2 hours. Just be very intentional in planning how to highlight each part of the program. For instance, in blowing-the-candles time, you can invest in a nice cake. One that would wow your child and her peers. That way, the program may be short, but it’s guaranteed to make a lasting memory. Consider building a cake online to make yours special.
A dedicated time for opening gifts
There’s always the tradition of opening gifts in birthday parties. But to be honest, it’s one that you can do away with. Your kids and his friends are better off without it. For one, it can elicit unpleasant feelings of jealousy among your child’s peers. If you have a shy kid, the feeling of being watched as they unwrap the presents is also very uncomfortable. More importantly, you don’t want to put a spotlight on the gifts. You’re celebrating life here. Not material things. If you want your child to have the proper perspective about birthdays, then you should start tweaking how you celebrate, perhaps laying off on some traditions.
No Need to Be ‘Extra’
The bottom line is, strive for simplicity in your kids’ party. There’s no need to be over-the-top. You want your kids to appreciate birthdays for what they are, a grateful celebration of life — nothing else.