Dear Snarky – I Hate Throwing Birthday Parties

One odear_snarky_logo-1f the more common themes from letters I get are about children’s birthday parties. It can be nerve-racking to throw an awesome celebration and yet not drop some major coin to make it happen. Here’s an example of some of the letters I have received.

Dear Snarky,

I can’t afford a big blow out for my son’s 9th birthday, but I’m afraid he’ll be disappointed if we don’t have a big party like his other friends have had.


Dear Snarky,

I’m so mad I spent what I thought was a fortune on a party for my twins at a Go Kart track and kids were complaining that they were bored!

Oh moms, I so feel your pain.  With a party for six children at an American Girl Doll store costing more than $300 or a trampoline park celebration bouncing up and over the $500 mark it can make you starry-eyed for the days of a Duncan Hines cake mix and a couple of presents from mom and dad.

My suggestion to alleviate all this party anxiety and cost is to embrace the birthday festivities of yesteryear and kick it old school.

Here’s the deal.  Our kids are jaded.  Not kidding about this – one month my daughter went to 3 American Girl parties.  If you really want to throw a bash that will be remembered and not break the bank do something unexpected that speaks to a child’s sense of silly fun.Scan 3

One year I had a party for my son that  featured flour fights in the backyard.  I’m talking baking flouScan 7r. I filled up wheelbarrows with the white stuff and the kids went crazy. It was hilarious.

Another year for my daughter we had a goofy face paint party where the girls did each other’s “make up” and then put on a show.

All of it was very, very low-cost and fun. Primarily, I think because it was different, a little bit unstructured and they were allowed to make a mess. In fact, my son is 18 and he has one friend that to this day, still talks about the “awesome flour fight.”

So relax and don’t over think it and most importantly do not try to keep up, one up or use your kid’s birthday as a I way to impress other parents. That’s not a party. It’s a competition and there’s nothing fun about that.

7 thoughts on “Dear Snarky – I Hate Throwing Birthday Parties

  1. Party Mama says:

    You hit the nail on the head! It’s not a competition and kids live such structured lives that letting loose and not having 10 minutes at the craft table and then 10 minutes playing a game etc seems like unimaginable freedom.

  2. amy says:

    awesome. Everyone’s getting sucked into one-upmanship in so many facets of life, it’s a good idea to draw the line. Other parents will thank you for your example and feel free to do the same themselves.

  3. Angela says:

    Good job, Snarky! I’d love to see a wave of common sense sweep the country. People ask me, “How did you afford eight children? I could never afford that!” Well, I never spent more than about $20 on each birthday, for starters! It’s just a birthday. Each kid will hopefully have 18 of them while still at home. Seriously, people? Hundreds of dollars on a kid’s birthday? No.

  4. Susan Kissman says:

    Best party I ever had was a “Digging in the Dirt Party” for my kindergarten son. We had a huge dirt pile, invitations stated to dress to get dirty. We had all the dump trucks, diggers any kid could want. We sprinkled about 10 dollars worth of coins in the dirt.
    They could keep what they found. Little kid heaven. As a bonus we made hand prints in plaster of paris in pie tins. You wouldn’t have to do this. My kids still remember this one and they are now 17 & 15.

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