Don’t Feel Bad If You Keep Your Child’s Birthday Frugal
A refreshing account of why mothers should shun the pressure to spend outrageously on their children's birthday parties. Yes, pizza, a trip to the park and a cupcake are perfect (and inexpensive).
Cake smash pictures. First birthday video montages. Cake shaped like Mickey Mouse. Hours of time spent selecting the perfect gift. Personalized invitations. Custom Etsy-created monogrammed outfits.
As you can see, there’s a long to-do list when you’re planning a child’s birthday party these days.
However, despite public pressure and my friends’ pictures on Instagram of their children’s birthday parties, I didn’t do any of that for my twins’ first birthday and I didn’t do it for their second birthday either. Instead, they enjoyed a cupcake, I took a few pictures with my phone, and we moved on.
Am I a horrible mother? Definitely not. In fact, I don’t feel bad about skipping the cake smash pictures or the birthday parties at all.
I feel awesome that instead of spending money on those events, each of my twins has nearly $700 in investment accounts in their name, and that’s the greatest gift I can give them.
I admit; some moms are made to throw perfect parties. You can see them anytime you want on Pinterest. And, for the record, I think it’s amazing that so many women have the skills and the talent to pull off such fantastic events, but I’m honest with myself: that’s just not me.
I looked through old pictures of my birthday parties growing up. There was no pressure on my mom to have cupcakes made at a designer bakery with my monogram on them.
My mom always found a way to have my birthday party at a pool and then she ordered a bunch of pizzas and a cake.
She definitely didn’t feel the need to have themed snacks and tablecloths. Knowing my mom, she was probably pretty happy to order a bunch of pizzas and not have to cook or clean up anything. So, if it was good enough for my childhood, why wouldn’t it be good enough for my own kids?
I refuse to let the guilt get to me or to feel like I don’t measure up to other moms who have more resources or more creativity.
Each of us as moms can celebrate our children’s birthday guilt free as long as we take the time to acknowledge them the best way we know how.
Last year on my twins’ first birthday, I took them to the park. They went down the slides, hung out on the swings and in general just had a great time. I tried to clear my calendar and didn’t have any writing assignment due on that day.
A few days before their birthday, we took a little weekend road trip to visit our friends in Boston. We took them to the children’s museum there with a coupon we got from the local library. It was frugal, memorable, and fun. This year, we kept their second birthday low key mostly because we’ll be traveling next month as a family and that will be their primary gift.
I’ve always felt like it’s better to buy my kids experiences and not things.
After all, I think they’d have more fun spending time with me than they would with a huge influx of gifts at a birthday party they won’t even remember.
ABC recently interviewed Julie Lam, owner of a party planning company in New York City that caters to children’s birthday parties and she said, “an average first birthday party might have between 50 and 60 guests at a cost of $50 to $75 per person.”
Granted, that example showcases NYC prices, but it does serve as a reminder of the lengths many parents will go to make their birthday parties truly exceptional.
Again, I think it’s wonderful if some moms have the resources and the will to do this, but I don’t think it’s necessary.
Most importantly, those of us who choose not to go this route shouldn’t feel guilty about it. The point is, if you are on a tight budget or simply don’t want the stress of throwing a birthday party or taking cake smash pictures, then don’t.
You’re the mom and you get to decided how to spend your children’s birthdays at least until they’re old enough to interject their own opinions and requests for their special day.