Birthday Party Etiquette
If you have been reading this blog on the regular lately, you know I have been struggling with a lot of things since Little D started kindergarten in September. Homework. Multiple volunteering obligations. A prompt start time in the morning…which I think we have made maybe once. Homework.
But one of the things I have really had issues with in the past few months is the birthday party protocol. The teachers made some passing comment early on in the year about parties and how if you are sending invitations to school with the kids, that you should invite the whole class. If you are not inviting the whole class, then you shouldn’t send invites to school, so you don’t risk any hurt feelings.
Ok, that’s fine and nice.
But here’s the thing: your kids are five. Regardless of whether or not invitations are floating around in cubby holes, they are talking about their parties on the schoolyard, in the classroom, heck even in the potty…whatever chance they get. And inevitably, though obviously not purposefully, they are hurting feelings when some kids aren’t included in the fun.
This is not the kids’ issue. This is the parents’ issue. Sigh. Add it to my list above, right under homework.
The way I see it is this: you should either a) invite the whole class or b) have a personal birthday party that entails family, neighbors, maybe one or two schoolmates, at most.
I know birthday parties are expensive and time consuming and labor intensive…but do they have to be? If you can’t afford to entertain 20 kids at a play gym, consider the nearest public park instead. Some balloons, pizza and a cake. That’s all you need. If you don’t have the time to write out dozens of invites, use Paperless Post. If your son wants an “all boys” party, maybe you should use the opportunity to talk to him about friendships and the concept of “the more, the merrier” before it becomes a real issue later in life…I am particularly passionate about this one, whether it’s boys or girls. How are we teaching our kids about tolerance and relationships and maturity if we are letting them segregate themselves over Elmo cake and balloons as five-year-olds? One mother in Little D’s class expressed her concern at parent/teacher conference night about her son’s newfound unwillingness to socialize with girls since he got into kindergarten. “He is very into the boys thing lately and I am concerned that he’s developing a mentality against girls.” Fast-forward just two short months. She hosted an all boys birthday party for him…so ya…clearly, she was very concerned.
Ok, I digress. I am sure there are lots of opinions floating around your pick up and drop off circles on this front. I understand everyone has a different approach, different traditions, maybe different ideals when it comes to celebrating your child every year. And I understand that the precedence you set now will probably stick with you for years to come — and that could mean a lot of cupcakes.
But I urge you to think about not only your child, your budget or your stress level as you plan the next celebration, but the 19 or so other little cupcake lovers running around the schoolyard. At this age, in particular, they are so sensitive and perceptive and excited about the friends that surround them.
We wouldn’t want to blow out that candle so early, would we?
What’s your take on birthday parties? The more, the merrier? Small and select?
*Editor’s note: this isn’t a bitter post related to how many invitations Little D gets or doesn’t get. She gets plenty, trust me…and is very fulfilled on a social level. With the exception of the boy’s party, of course 😉
**Image above via Jason Cooper*