Once your child goes to school, gone are the days of simple, family gatherings celebrating your little bundle’s day of birth. Enter, you shall, the chaotic headache that is The Bombardment of Friends Sugar-filled Birthday Madness. Or something like that.
While policies and/or recommendations may vary on school and classroom, our teacher gently suggested that when handing out birthday invitations to please invite all children in the class if possible. If that wasn’t possible, hand invitations directly to parents instead of allowing your child to hand them out in class.
It sounds like a ludicrous request, I can understand where she was coming from. Feelings can easily get hurt, especially when a child doesn’t know why he or she wasn’t invited to so-and-so’s party. Their “best friends” also change on a weekly, if not daily, basis, so it’s hard to determine who’s “worthy” of that Golden Ticket.
But from the financial standpoint, it’s hard to invite nearly 20 kids to a party. For one, how does one host that many children all at once? Unless you live on a sprawling acreage, it’s nearly impossible. You could rent out a community hall, or head to a venue, but that gets costly and often has restrictions on how many people can attend. It helps on the whole “invite the whole class” issue, but what if your kid is a social butterfly and is (legitimately) friends with more kids than the cap?
Two, it’s expensive to feed that many mouths, even if you’re just planning on serving snacks and cake. You’ll doubt whether or not you’re providing enough food, but then again, are the kids going to stop socialized and playing long enough to even eat? (Answer: Most likely not unless it’s cake.)
Ultimately, who to invite to your kid’s birthday party is 100% up to you. Isla was invited to both “whole class” parties and “select few”ones and I never heard her question why she wasn’t invited to someone else’s. I’m sure this will happen one day, but I’m thankful we haven’t had to cross this bridge yet.
Another topic regarding birthdays to discuss is how to decide what to do if/when your child is invited to someone else’s party. Personally, it’s hard for me to say “No” to Isla attending someone else’s party unless there’s something else happening or she’s sick. Plus, Isla is always super sad when she finds out she can’t go to someone’s party. My solution is to try and open up her invitations and determine if she can go before she even knows what’s going on. While slightly deceitful, it saves headache and heartache down the road.
Also prepare yourself for getting more than one invite in a month. It’s up to you do decide if it’s financially and mentally worth doing. Much like hosting a party, attending multiple parties in a month is expensive if you spend $15-20 on a present per kid.
Everything about birthdays stressed me out way more than it should have, and I look forward to the day when my kids have a clear group of friends and I don’t have to worry about hurting a child’s feelings. I know there will always in inclusion and exclusion issues, but at least I will be able to pass some of that control over to my kids.
How do you think you’ll tackle birthday parties? Do you agree with the “Invite all” request?
Full disclosure: After numerous discussions and breaking down all situations, Kyle and I allowed Isla to invite her whole class plus a few close outside friends to her birthday. We hosted it at a venue and it was worth every penny because 16 kids attended and the craziness of that many 5/6 year olds was exhausting. We at least didn’t have to clean up most of the mess. Next year we’re aiming/hoping for a more intimate soirée.