All three of my children have birthdays coming up in the next several months and I’m starting to think about birthday parties. In the past, I’ve done small at-home parties to save money.
Well, they were supposed to be small at-home parties.
The plan was always to let my child invite some friends over, have some lunch, play some games, eat cake and open a piñata. Easy peasy. And cheap.
Except we didn’t have enough seating for the kids to eat, so I’d rent a few kids’ tables and chairs. Since the moms and some dads were staying for the party, I’d need munchies for them too. Instead of just the PB&J sandwiches I’d imagined serving the kids, there always ended up being several different types of sandwiches for the kids to choose from, chips and pretzels, fruits and veggies, water and different types of juice boxes. For the parents, there were always bowls of munchies set out, a tray of fruits and veggies, a tray of sandwich rolls/meats/cheeses and condiments, sodas, bottled waters, a cooler of beers. Nothing turned out to be simple.
Then there were the activities. Instead of letting the kids run around being silly with a few toys and and simple activities as I’d envisioned, I started to worry that the kids might get bored. The closer that the party dates got, the more extravagant my plans. For one party, there ended up being princess dresses for every partygoer to wear, a jewelry dressing table, a glitter tattoo station, wand-making station, a treasure box-making activity, and a Find the Castle Treasure Scavenger hunt. My friends raved about the party and still mention it from time to time. My daughters had the time of their lives.
I hated it.
I was miserable and stressed out for days before the party. Up until the minute that the first guest rang the doorbell, I was running around in a panic getting the food, decorations and activities ready. I didn’t get to relax and take some extra time to help my birthday girl fix her hair in a special style. I didn’t get pictures of my daughter waiting excitedly for the guests to arrive. I didn’t get to share the experience with my daughter because I was too busy making sure the party was spectacular.
When I initially started considered local party places for my kids’ birthday parties, I decided that I could do something at home that would be just as fun but would cost much, much less. Instead, by the time I rented tables and chairs, bought decorations, food and drinks for kids and adults, bought the ingredients and candles for the cake, bought favors for the goody bags, bought the piñata and enough candy to fill it, bought all of the materials for the activities, etc., I spent so much more money than I had ever planned. Every single party I’ve had at home went way over budget and ended up being so stressful I wondered why I’d done it in the first place.
I’m not doing that any more!
I’m happy to say that this year I am completely giving up on home parties and will be having my daughter’s party at Monkey Joe’s. My daughter has been to two parties there and chose it as the location for her party this year. I’m responsible for sending out pre-printed invitations, bringing the cake and bringing the birthday girl. That’s it!
And I’m just as excited as my daughter.