It's birthday season at our house. They start April 29th and continue through June 9th. When I was growing up my parents didn't do birthday parties, just a cake and presents, and I never felt deprived that I didn't have a yearly party with friends. A side note, I do remember having one party in first or second grade. It was one for both my sister, whose birthday is the day after mine, and myself and I recall we each got to invite a fair amount of friends too.
So here it is, birthday season and I start to stress. Why do I do this year after year? I hate to say it, but I'm so fixated over the party this year that I checked a few books out from the library to help guide me. Funny thing, they are really quite helpful. They suggest a short window of time for the party, which I opted for the suggested hour and a half. This way I will feed them kiddie unhealthy foods, play a few games then send them on their way. Oh, and I will take photos just so I can document that I had parties for my children. But why is this such a big deal to me when I never missed having them as a kid? Granted my oldest daughter is very excited for her party and has been helping with the planning every step of the way. But I am certain she would be just fine having the family together over cake and a few gifts.
The horror of planning happened when I read my soon to be five year old the invite. The last line reads, "no gifts please". She replied with "But Mom, that is the best part. Why did you add that?" I explained to her that she has too much stuff that she doesn't play with, what's the point of having more. I also said "the reality is that a party is really for friends to come together in your honor to have cake and wish you well". I also added "your parents and grandparents will be giving you gifts and we aren't skipping that, so really it's just your friends that won't be bringing gifts". With that she understood and accepted it.
A friend told me that was a harsh idea when our kids go to so many parties where kids open so many gifts. Or shall I say "tear" through them without even glancing to see what is in the box. But I explained that it is a pact that some friends and I made where we have agreed to accept an invitation that says "no gifts please" and stick to it. My sister in New York had a party for her daughter years ago that I attended and thought it so strange that her daughter didn't open her gifts from the girls that attended. She plainly stated, "that's just the way they do it around here". After that, I thought it was brilliant. What an idea. This way kids aren't crying that they don't have anything to open since it isn't their party. The books say that kids love to see their gifts opened, but I really sense they don't care when it's all said and done, they just remember having fun, playing games and eating cake. Off to make the dalmation pinata....