Every year we are faced with the same dilemma and as our kids get older it becomes more difficult to answer.
We have all heard the stories of a child who invites kids to his party and no one shows up. The child is devastated, the parents hearts break for their child, and society shames the classmates and their parents.
However we have also all been faced with an invitation to a party we cannot attend. My children have received many invitations and we are almost always the ones who do not attend. This is not because my child does not value your child and want to attend. It is simply because my family comes first and our own cohesion and time together trumps time away at a party. I have 4 kids, my husband works many hours in a week. So firstly if all my kids cannot attend I have no other option than to decline the invite, and as I do not expect you to invite my entire brood we cannot attend. Secondly even if the entire family is invited, we have very little time with my husband home for an entire day and so we want to spend time hiking together or enjoying each others company. I want to emphasize that families choosing not to attend your child’s party has nothing to do with not liking your child. But it is not just one party, when you have 4 kids and they all have multiple extracurriculars, and friends we have multiple invites every weekend… not only does that mean we will have ZERO time together, the logistics of driving everyone around, I will not leave my kids alone at a party of children whose parents I wholeheartedly trust, and on top of that it is all of the other people in attendance that I do not know and cannot in good conscience leave my kids alone with. It is not personal against the families and I understand the pressures society puts on family to host elaborate parties with everyone invited.
It is not that we could not come, its that we cannot come. I love and value the relationship that our children hold, but even when gifts are not expected, the pressure to give is still there, and a financial burden that my family cannot take on for multiple children every weekend that are not our own.
Now onto the point of my post, ever since we started having birthdays for our kids, we have made them almost exclusively family only. There have been a couple times were other people were invited but we made sure to invite the entire family because we know how it is, stress of leaving one kid behind, taking time away from your own family, and stress from not knowing who will be there and if you can leave your kid. We also emphasized that NO gifts were to be brought, and only family can give gifts to our kids if they want. I understand and am truly grateful that you would want to give my children gifts, but my children are already entirely blessed with material things, and I would 100% rather you spend that money on your own kids. If we invite you it is solely for the companionship. I used to ask family not to get the kids things, but have since had my eyes opened to the ingratitude that I was modeling for my children. If we have family that wants to bless my kids I will forever more be thankful for that. BUT as a fellow mother, I know what a burden purchasing gifts can put on families, you may not be that family that is struggling, but you may be and I in no way want anyone to feel pressured to struggle financially to keep up with societies pressures.
So once again I will say that we as a family have FAMILY centered birthdays. I do some decorating and themes but nothing over the top. I want my children to know that it is a special day for them and that their family loves them. We have many days when we meet friends to play but this is a special day for family.
So if you are out there struggling with wondering if people with show up, or wondering why. Know that it is not in all likely hood because your child is not loved or valued, it is simply because your kid is not the ONLY kid sending out invites and the rest of us are overwhelmed with the amount of parties. We very rarely attend them. I tell the other moms this in advance, that we love and value your child but simply cannot attend every party, and to be fair we usually wont.
I want to call on society to stop with this unusual practice of birthday parties. We have such busy lives and expecting us to put our own lives on hold to attend another families party is fine if it was only ONE but it never is. WE will never get to spend time as a family or accomplishing things on the weekends if we have to spend them all out of the house. I know your child is the most IMPORTANT to you, and that is how it should be. So why not show them in a special way by doing something special just with them instead of stressing over hosting a party.
My son this year picked out Minecraft so I handmade most of the decorations by sponge painting amazon boxes and I used those for the actual wrapping of the gifts. I made the fondant covered cake. Baking cakes is a past time of mine and I enjoy making these for the kids. The cake is always the big thing of their parties. Fondant is a beast, and I usually won’t mess with it but it turned out pretty good I think. For the small Minecraft element boxes I printed them off in color from pixelcraft.com and cut them out then laminated them cut them out and taped them with packing tape. My son plays with these all the time with the Minecraft minifigures he has. Our small family event turned out perfect just how it should be.