I mentioned in my last post that Boy Wonder was going to turn six on Saturday. For the first year ever, we skipped the birthday party, and had a family day instead.
The reasoning behind this was influenced by many things. Firstly, throwing a yearly party for three kids gets to be a little expensive. The Hubster and I often find ourselves spending way more than we anticipated. And because we live in a 100 year old house that is in constant renovation, our projects always have to be finished at a high rate of speed so guests aren't falling through floor boards and whatnot. This leaves us with, "Your present this year is your party." What fun is that?
Now that we're about to have four kids, I'm also worried about overwhelming not only ourselves but friends and family. "Seriously? Another birthday party...weren't we just at one?" Now,that sounds mean, but let's be real. When things get really hectic and you're spending every weekend away from home, don't you get a little resentful? Another party this weekend? As awesome as our friends and family are (and they really are), I can't expect them to be super thrilled every couple of months when we're throwing another birthday party.
Another primary reason behind this was the fact that the kids (mostly Boy Wonder) were coming to expect a party and gifts. It wasn't even something exciting for him - just a given. "This year I want to have my party at (local party palace). No? Well why not?" Ahh... cue Veruca Salt.
Ok, not quite that bad. But the expectation of a party every year was a little off setting to me. I never had a single birthday party growing up. My mom made everything extra special on our birthdays and that was it. No large spread of food, no millions of friends coming over, no mounds of presents to open. The kids have an entire room packed to the absolute brim with toys that never get touched. (Well, they did. I retired many of them to the basement in purgatory before they make their way to Goodwill.)
So, this year, the Hubster and I decided to scale things back a bit. We made a special breakfast for Boy Wonder, decorated the house, went out to eat for lunch, went bowling, had cake at home and opened presents. It was an awesome day.
Overall, I'm torn about not having the big party. Here are my reactions:
1. Boy Wonder was so, so grateful for everything we did for him that day. He's not a spoiled brat by any means, but he does have this expectation of wonderful that I mentioned before. I always had to remind him to thank others for his presents, and God bless his little un-filtered heart, he'd sometimes respond with something like, "But I didn't really want this toy." ("Eh.. heh, heh. [Insert rambling meant to reassure the gift-giver that he does like their gift while mentally wishing your son had a filter.]") I was floored when he came out of the dining room in a Lego building craze on his birthday, and said, "I just wanted to thank you guys for getting me this Lego set like I wanted. I'm so happy I got it."
Whaaaat? It was like a day filled with genuine care and affection from his parents, simple as it was, was enough for him to be grateful without being reminded to be. And to top it off, he told me he loved me several times without me saying it first. I was so happy I could burst.
2. We saved so much money. This sounds selfish. But really, between trying to make sure there's an assortment of food for kids with odd and varied appetites and hungry adults, finishing up major home repairs, and all of the last minute "Our hand towels are all stained!!" moments, we spend way, way more than we should. A day out with just the kids was a small fraction of what we normally spend.
3. We were able to treat our kid. To go along with #2, we had enough money to buy him gifts we wanted to give him. But, we also had time to spend with him. No dishing out food, no watching him run off to the play room with his friends and not seeing him again until the last guest left. It was so nice connecting with him the entire day and celebrating him and his impact in our lives.
4. We didn't get to see friends and family. Perhaps the biggest, most nagging regret I have about not having a birthday party is not seeing our friends and family. Many of our friends and family live a couple of towns away, so the only time we get together is for birthday parties. It's a nice excuse to see each other, let the kids go nuts, and catch up. I had several messages on Saturday saying something to the effect of, "Wish I could see Boy Wonder on his big day - tell him we said Happy Birthday!". I love staying in contact with friends and family, and I love entertaining. Although I was very happy spending the day with our family, I did feel slightly... odd(?) that we didn't celebrate with our friends and family.
The Hubster and I have decided we'd like to have a summer get together, since 3 of the kids are born in winter and we never get to use the yard. A summer party would allow us to get the hell out of the house and enjoy the play set, sand box, and grill. I suppose we'll have to do a better job with getting together with friends throughout the year for play dates. Maybe we'll adjust how we do birthday parties - maybe a party every other year? Despite the mixed feelings, I have to say that I really enjoyed the stress-free, closer knit feel of a family day. And I could definitely get used to Boy Wonder being grateful on a regular basis!
What about you? Did you have parties growing up? Do you throw parties, and if you do what is your reasoning behind it? Do you think it's worth it? I'd love to hear other takes!
Happy partying (or not)