Monday, March 29, 2010

She Wants a Birthday Party But....

Remember the tea kettle - it is always up to its neck in hot water, yet it still sings! ~Author Unknown

The Princess will be turning nine years old in a month (and a week later is her daddy's birthday). With Resurrection Day, piano recital, consignment sale, planning for standardized testing as required of homeschoolers in my state, perhaps a 4-H Horse Day Camp and/or starting riding lessons, and preparing for a yard sale, April for us is nearly as busy as December...AND then the child wants a birthday party—actually she has always wanted one.

I am really torn on this issue. I like doing special things for her birthday, but more as a family celebration. The unfortunate part of this is that we have no family around and the ones who would like to be here cannot travel easily. I usually make and decorate a shaped cake of her choosing. We give her a few gifts and we spend the day together. I would not mind inviting a friend or two for cake and ice cream, but I am not sure I am ready to do a party or even if we should. It seems to me that once a child has one big birthday party, she believes she should have one every year thereafter.

My husband and I really did not have birthday parties like this where a number of children were invited, games were played, and loads of presents were given. I cringe when the same people, who are being given support from others or are barely getting by, think it is a necessity that each one of their children have big birthday parties. Some people think nothing of dropping down $200-$300 and even more for the party alone with inflatables or skating or video and arcade games, not to mention the presents they purchase as well. Even those simple home gatherings necessitate a decorated cake, usually store-bought, decorations, and games with prizes, at least. It has become such an expectation in our culture that some tend to look down on the parents who don't do it, as if their children are deprived.

Do I want my daughter to have friends and fun? Of course, I do. However, it has never set well with me that children are invited to a party where it is expected that the guest of honor receive a present just because she is one year older and they were invited. As I see it, for weddings and baby showers, gift giving has a far more practical purpose, but every year a birthday party with presents from everyone...?

I admit that I might feel this way, because our daughter has more than enough already and people tend give presents that I would never give her myself. For instance, I have been trying to steer her away from desiring Barbie dolls; she has two Barbie-type dolls, one is a Snow White doll and the other a NASA astronaut, and that seems to be a compromise that works for us, as neither is promotes the latest in scanty fashions.


Now I do have one idea that I dearly like. It came to me when we watched the movie A Little Princess. Sara Crewe treated her guests as if she was having the party for them, rather than for herself. She also gave presents to all of her guests at her birthday party—not prizes but presents. I still think that is the sweetest idea. I am sure that my Princess would be thrilled to do it that way as she loves giving gifts! In fact, I would even go so far as to not tell her guests that it is her birthday party, but just a dress up tea party so they do not feel obligated to bring a present at all (and I would rather they not). Now that would be the type of party I would be willing to do with some fancy trimmings.

Some things to think over....

~ My Lord, I pray that if we do have a party, it will be that my daughter is a gracious hostess rather than the guest of honor and that she will find more enjoyment in giving that getting. ~


  1. I LOVE your idea! ♥♥♥♥♥ LOVE it! We never did big parties either, occasional small one. Ditz has never actually had a real party but this year she & her Irish mates want to celebrate by paintballing. Should be a hoot. Her mates are boys...

  2. Sounds like a great idea! I've never done large parties for my children, we'll invite friends to gather with us at a local park, and I'll bring ice cream and drinks. We always put on the invitations that gifts aren't necessary. I will give the birthday boy a special gift at home and we have the gathering of friends as a way to celebrate. I am amazed every time I read a post of yours and realize how much alike we really are though we've never "met".

  3. Ganeida, paintball sounds great for Ditz! I want lots and lots of pictures.

    Birbitt, the Princess has mentioned she would like to do it at a park previously as well, so I am tossing between casual play clothes at the park or a fancy tea party at home so my daughter can practice her etiquette.

    We discussed the idea and, as I hoped, the child just loved it and decided that she will use the decorations she has been making in preparation for her birthday—don't ask! My husband, on the other hand, felt that I should tell the parents that is for her birthday but we don't want presents. It has been my experience that as soon as you tell anyone it is a birthday party, they feel they must bring a present, even when they are told not to do so.

    Still more to think about as the excitement builds and the day approaches....


Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.