All Inclusive Birthday Party or Small Birthday Party… What Works for My Child?

So Many Presents!

Too Many Presents, Not Enough Time!

Whatever happened to small birthday parties with a few close friends? Now a day kid’s birthday parties have exploded to include the entire school or daycare class as well as close friends and family with 20-30 kids attending that the  child hardly knows. There are so many presents there is no time to open them at the party and they all get taken home with the birthday child. Maybe with the ‘all inclusive’ policies being taught in school’s parents feel obligated to invite everyone but there must be away around it. The party can be very costly and exhausting for the parents not to mention where to put all those toys.

When my daughter Anya was little she went to an ‘all inclusive’ birthday party for one of her kindergarten friends. I remember her being so overwhelmed with all the children there and disappointed when the gifts were all taken home to open and she didn’t get to see whether her friend liked her gift. To her that was one of the highlights of the party. Opening up presents at the party teaches valuable lessons to the birthday child too. They can’t just open a gift and toss it aside if they don’t like it or already have one when all their friends are watching.  They also have the opportunity to thank each friend for their gift personally before they leave the party.

Of course with smaller parties comes the problem of how to deliver the invitations without the whole class knowing there is a party happening? When my kids were in primary school they rarely had large birthday parties so I would discreetly hand out the invitations to their friend’s parents after school, phone, email or deliver it to their home. Then the children in the class who were not invited would not feel left out.

I would coach my child before their birthday party and explain that each friend had put a lot of thought into what to buy for them and were excited to watch them open it. If it was something they already had or didn’t like I told them not to say anything at the time because it might hurt their friend’s feelings. They could smile and thank their friend for the gift and place it with the rest. Then after the party we could talk about it and decide what to do with the duplicate or unwanted item. My kids learned to appreciate what they were given and to take their friends feelings into consideration when they gave out their invitations and opened presents.

Maybe a solution for those who would still like to have an ‘all inclusive’ Birthday Party could be to hold a Toonie or a Fiver party where each guest gives a Toonie or Five dollar bill as their present. The birthday boy or girl could then take the money and buy something special with it they may have been saving for. They might even decide to give a portion to charity and learn about giving back to their community. There would be no presents to worry about opening at the party and the birthday boy or girl could tell their guests what they’d like to buy with the money so their guests would know what they contributed towards. For the birthday child’s parents this also relieves the bulk of ‘stuff’ coming back into their home after the party. I mean really how many toys does a child need? I know my kids always had an over abundance of toys and we just didn’t have enough space to fit them all.

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The information on this site is based on the personal experience of the author. There are no guarantees of a perfect method to raise a child, it is all trial and error. Please feel free to try some of the suggestions on this site and let me know how you make out. If you would like to use any words or pictures from this blog please contact me for written permission. © 2013

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