birthday party questions (X-post)

birthday party questions (X-post)

Joined: March 8th, 2008, 12:39 am

October 15th, 2011, 7:22 pm #1

1) When would/will you start having kid birthday parties? I know some families have them early, but our DS will be 4 soon and I'm not sure I want to have a big to-do and spend a lot of money.

2) Is it strange for birthday boys (4 years old, or any age, I guess) to NOT open their birthday presents in front of their guests? We attended a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party and the birthday boy did not open his gifts but his parents bagged them up to take them home with them at the end. Granted, there was little time for gift opening after all the games and food, but is this the norm these days?

3) Is it strange to receive a thank you card (for a birthday present) that has not yet been played with? The mom (my friend) insists that her son send a thank you card PRIOR to playing with any of his birthday gifts which I certainly understand the reasoning behind that, but then I have no idea if he really enjoyed it. His card read, "The ___ you gave me looks really cool and I can't wait to play with it."

I don't post here much, but I so respect all the moms here and would love your input.

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Joined: January 19th, 2007, 7:18 pm

October 15th, 2011, 9:16 pm #2

1. I say hold off as long as you can because at this age, it really IS within your control. We've made mistakes 2 yrs. in a row now. Ds' 3rd birthday was his 1st party. We had it at our house b/c I was nostalgic about homemade cake & food, casual, etc. We did rent a bounce house so they would have something to do.

Then came the realization that with both of us working, we didn't have time to make food. I killed myself cleaning the house from top to bottom, & we ran around like mad pulling it together. The guest list grew much larger than we thought it would b/c at this age, siblings & parents come. All of a sudden, we couldn't even do the cake or cupcakes b/c it would be too much. We ended up having to buy food & cupcakes, & rent tables & chairs. And then hope fervently that the weather would hold so that the party could be outside b/c our house is too small.

The weather held & everyone had a good time. Ds loved it & still remembers it, but it turned out to be expensive AND exhausting. Lesson learned, at least for us. No at-home parties that extend beyond family.

This year, we debated what to do, if anything. B/c he remembers his previous party & has gone to a few through preschool, we thought we were stuck, so we planned one at one of those kiddie party places. As it draws closer, we realize he really wouldn't have been scarred for life if we hadn't planned one. He's still too young to really figure it all out, so we could've done something very, very small.

We have friends who live for this kind of thing. One still gives me a hard time for skipping #1 & #2. So I think it's fine to do it, but we really don't live for this kind of thing, so we do wish we had made some different decisions. Hopefully we'll find the right balance with #2.

2. Not opening presents at the party seems to be the norm here. We only have 2 hrs. at the party place & they charge $50 for every 10 min. you go over your time. Yikes! Plus it eliminates any awkward situations or rudeness that can come from small children opening gifts. I was really surprised when I first heard of this trend, but now I'm relieved. It also allows the parent to track who gave what, if they write thank-you notes.

3. I don't think thank-you notes should be over-thought in terms of before or after. Thanking the giver for the gift is what matters. I write them when I write them, often over a period of days. If ds has played with the toy, I say how much he is enjoying it. If we haven't tried it out yet, I say how much he's looking forward to it & I know he will love it. Honestly, it never occurred to me that anyone might think twice depending on the version they got.

Good luck with what you decide. I do think people go overboard on parties for small children & I'm not super proud of my own choices so far, so the best you can do is try to stay true to what feels right for you. (Says the one with party regrets!!)

(And don't get me started on goodie bags. I absolutely hate the practice with a passion. Yet it is the norm here, so we have done them. I still hate the practice, though, & yes, I know hate is a strong word.)



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Joined: December 29th, 2006, 10:07 am

October 15th, 2011, 10:17 pm #3

1) When would/will you start having kid birthday parties? I know some families have them early, but our DS will be 4 soon and I'm not sure I want to have a big to-do and spend a lot of money.

2) Is it strange for birthday boys (4 years old, or any age, I guess) to NOT open their birthday presents in front of their guests? We attended a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party and the birthday boy did not open his gifts but his parents bagged them up to take them home with them at the end. Granted, there was little time for gift opening after all the games and food, but is this the norm these days?

3) Is it strange to receive a thank you card (for a birthday present) that has not yet been played with? The mom (my friend) insists that her son send a thank you card PRIOR to playing with any of his birthday gifts which I certainly understand the reasoning behind that, but then I have no idea if he really enjoyed it. His card read, "The ___ you gave me looks really cool and I can't wait to play with it."

I don't post here much, but I so respect all the moms here and would love your input.

yes I would say hold off for as long as possible. I did one for my first at 3 (mostly becasuse we had been to a few parties and felt obliged to return the favour rather than because my DS wanted one - though he has loved his parties.

It is shocking how much you end up spending........

Yes, we have always taken presents away to open up as we have had at least 30 kids giving presents at our parties so too many. If a small party then yes that would be nice to open up at the party

Thank yous - mostly my DS has played with the toys but even if he had not, I would always want the giver to feel the gift was much appreciated (white lies don't matter much here?)
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Joined: February 20th, 2006, 11:35 pm

October 15th, 2011, 11:27 pm #4

1) When would/will you start having kid birthday parties? I know some families have them early, but our DS will be 4 soon and I'm not sure I want to have a big to-do and spend a lot of money.

2) Is it strange for birthday boys (4 years old, or any age, I guess) to NOT open their birthday presents in front of their guests? We attended a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party and the birthday boy did not open his gifts but his parents bagged them up to take them home with them at the end. Granted, there was little time for gift opening after all the games and food, but is this the norm these days?

3) Is it strange to receive a thank you card (for a birthday present) that has not yet been played with? The mom (my friend) insists that her son send a thank you card PRIOR to playing with any of his birthday gifts which I certainly understand the reasoning behind that, but then I have no idea if he really enjoyed it. His card read, "The ___ you gave me looks really cool and I can't wait to play with it."

I don't post here much, but I so respect all the moms here and would love your input.

Hi Bethlyn,

We've had parties for both boys since they were 2 (when they were one we just had either family or the next door neighbors over for cupcakes). But they've always been low-key affairs over at our house -- until last year when DS turned 7 and we went to a duckpin bowling alley with around 10-12 kids. This year he'll have another party outside the house, with about 10 kids altogether. My younger one turned 4 this year and we had 5 kids over and all they did was play. I didn't have any theme or anything.

We've had the boys open presents a couple of times. A few other times they opened presents when there were only a few kids left who wanted to see them open up theirs. But I think it's pretty normal that kids don't open up their presents in front of the others. For one thing, it can get kind of overwhelming.

Re: the thank you notes, I guess I've never really known if kids have played with their gifts or not before they write their presents, because usually we just get something along the lines of "thanks for my xyz, I really like it, your friend X" I think the wording of the card you got sounds fine to me; it's much better to send out a card so early than to wait a long time or to forget to write it altogether!

Parties can be a lot of work, but we've also had a lot of fun over the years.

xoxo
Lillian
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Joined: June 24th, 2005, 12:12 am

October 16th, 2011, 2:26 am #5

1) When would/will you start having kid birthday parties? I know some families have them early, but our DS will be 4 soon and I'm not sure I want to have a big to-do and spend a lot of money.

2) Is it strange for birthday boys (4 years old, or any age, I guess) to NOT open their birthday presents in front of their guests? We attended a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party and the birthday boy did not open his gifts but his parents bagged them up to take them home with them at the end. Granted, there was little time for gift opening after all the games and food, but is this the norm these days?

3) Is it strange to receive a thank you card (for a birthday present) that has not yet been played with? The mom (my friend) insists that her son send a thank you card PRIOR to playing with any of his birthday gifts which I certainly understand the reasoning behind that, but then I have no idea if he really enjoyed it. His card read, "The ___ you gave me looks really cool and I can't wait to play with it."

I don't post here much, but I so respect all the moms here and would love your input.

I did my first b-day for dd at 3. That's the age when she became aware of birthday parties, so that's when we did it.
At a playground, pizza delivered there and cupcakes.
About 8 kids the first year, 5 kids the second.
Goody bags but no food or candy in the bags. Moms have thanked me for this.
About 2 hours long
Lovely parties, really. Totally low-key--like a group playdate with food.

I love not opening the gifts in front of everyone. Dd's parties have been small enough, that she has been able to open a bunch of the presents inobtrusively just one-on-one with the child giving it to her either when the child arrives or is leaving. This is really nice. Kids love seeing their present opened, but others aren't sitting around getting bored or upset or embarrassed. Plays down the acquisition side of the whole thing.

I don't think it matters at all when the ty was written. they are going to say good things about the gift, regardless. You will never really know if it was enjoyed! I'd say any thank you note is a huge accomplishment in these times of busy parents. I am not at all offended if we don't get a note at all.

HTH!









me:smc (single mom by choice)
FSH: 16
Dd: Conceived when I was 42 after 2 years ttc. Conceived on 6th IVF cycle after 2 bfn's and 3 m/cs.

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me:smc (single mom by choice)
FSH: 16
Dd: Conceived when I was 42 after 2 years ttc. Conceived on 6th IVF cycle after 2 bfn's and 3 m/cs.

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Joined: March 8th, 2008, 12:39 am

October 16th, 2011, 3:03 am #6

1. I say hold off as long as you can because at this age, it really IS within your control. We've made mistakes 2 yrs. in a row now. Ds' 3rd birthday was his 1st party. We had it at our house b/c I was nostalgic about homemade cake & food, casual, etc. We did rent a bounce house so they would have something to do.

Then came the realization that with both of us working, we didn't have time to make food. I killed myself cleaning the house from top to bottom, & we ran around like mad pulling it together. The guest list grew much larger than we thought it would b/c at this age, siblings & parents come. All of a sudden, we couldn't even do the cake or cupcakes b/c it would be too much. We ended up having to buy food & cupcakes, & rent tables & chairs. And then hope fervently that the weather would hold so that the party could be outside b/c our house is too small.

The weather held & everyone had a good time. Ds loved it & still remembers it, but it turned out to be expensive AND exhausting. Lesson learned, at least for us. No at-home parties that extend beyond family.

This year, we debated what to do, if anything. B/c he remembers his previous party & has gone to a few through preschool, we thought we were stuck, so we planned one at one of those kiddie party places. As it draws closer, we realize he really wouldn't have been scarred for life if we hadn't planned one. He's still too young to really figure it all out, so we could've done something very, very small.

We have friends who live for this kind of thing. One still gives me a hard time for skipping #1 & #2. So I think it's fine to do it, but we really don't live for this kind of thing, so we do wish we had made some different decisions. Hopefully we'll find the right balance with #2.

2. Not opening presents at the party seems to be the norm here. We only have 2 hrs. at the party place & they charge $50 for every 10 min. you go over your time. Yikes! Plus it eliminates any awkward situations or rudeness that can come from small children opening gifts. I was really surprised when I first heard of this trend, but now I'm relieved. It also allows the parent to track who gave what, if they write thank-you notes.

3. I don't think thank-you notes should be over-thought in terms of before or after. Thanking the giver for the gift is what matters. I write them when I write them, often over a period of days. If ds has played with the toy, I say how much he is enjoying it. If we haven't tried it out yet, I say how much he's looking forward to it & I know he will love it. Honestly, it never occurred to me that anyone might think twice depending on the version they got.

Good luck with what you decide. I do think people go overboard on parties for small children & I'm not super proud of my own choices so far, so the best you can do is try to stay true to what feels right for you. (Says the one with party regrets!!)

(And don't get me started on goodie bags. I absolutely hate the practice with a passion. Yet it is the norm here, so we have done them. I still hate the practice, though, & yes, I know hate is a strong word.)



OMG, I didn't realize this... no wonder! And then again, to have a big party at our house, I can so relate to the mad cleaning frenzy, there is just no other time during the week (month) to clean that thoroughly. OK, I can learn from others' party regrets As much as I would like to have a big party for DS, even at a bounce house type place, boy I just don't think I can pull it off this year. The mom at the Chuck E. Cheese party just had the special cups with the bendy straws and Chuck E. on top as the "goodie bag present" and I thought that was a good idea, since I dislike, ok hate, goodie bags too. Things have changed so much since I was a little girl.

And now I understand that my friend's son might not have had time to play with all of his gifts, but wanted to get a thank you note out anyway, now it makes sense to me. Thank you for your reply Ariadne, I'm glad we are sharing some similar challenges, even if we post so infrequently these days

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Joined: March 8th, 2008, 12:39 am

October 16th, 2011, 3:06 am #7

yes I would say hold off for as long as possible. I did one for my first at 3 (mostly becasuse we had been to a few parties and felt obliged to return the favour rather than because my DS wanted one - though he has loved his parties.

It is shocking how much you end up spending........

Yes, we have always taken presents away to open up as we have had at least 30 kids giving presents at our parties so too many. If a small party then yes that would be nice to open up at the party

Thank yous - mostly my DS has played with the toys but even if he had not, I would always want the giver to feel the gift was much appreciated (white lies don't matter much here?)
It seems as though big parties are just expected these days... so much different than when I grew up. Honestly, I had never been to any party where the birthday'er didn't open gifts right there. But I guess I can understand when there are so many guests and even more presents, it's just not possible.

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Joined: March 8th, 2008, 12:39 am

October 16th, 2011, 3:13 am #8

Hi Bethlyn,

We've had parties for both boys since they were 2 (when they were one we just had either family or the next door neighbors over for cupcakes). But they've always been low-key affairs over at our house -- until last year when DS turned 7 and we went to a duckpin bowling alley with around 10-12 kids. This year he'll have another party outside the house, with about 10 kids altogether. My younger one turned 4 this year and we had 5 kids over and all they did was play. I didn't have any theme or anything.

We've had the boys open presents a couple of times. A few other times they opened presents when there were only a few kids left who wanted to see them open up theirs. But I think it's pretty normal that kids don't open up their presents in front of the others. For one thing, it can get kind of overwhelming.

Re: the thank you notes, I guess I've never really known if kids have played with their gifts or not before they write their presents, because usually we just get something along the lines of "thanks for my xyz, I really like it, your friend X" I think the wording of the card you got sounds fine to me; it's much better to send out a card so early than to wait a long time or to forget to write it altogether!

Parties can be a lot of work, but we've also had a lot of fun over the years.

xoxo
Lillian
We have always had family birthday parties, but was just concerned about having a party at one of those big party places. I didn't even consider inviting friends to our home for a party, since all of his friends are in his daycare, I think it would have to be all or none... actually, I think that's why the ones he has attended are so big, the parents have invited ALL of the kids in his daycare. And okay, so, normal not to open gifts right at the party... ok... didn't know that And thanks for your input about the thank-you notes, I guess I was over-thinking.

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Joined: March 8th, 2008, 12:39 am

October 16th, 2011, 3:17 am #9

I did my first b-day for dd at 3. That's the age when she became aware of birthday parties, so that's when we did it.
At a playground, pizza delivered there and cupcakes.
About 8 kids the first year, 5 kids the second.
Goody bags but no food or candy in the bags. Moms have thanked me for this.
About 2 hours long
Lovely parties, really. Totally low-key--like a group playdate with food.

I love not opening the gifts in front of everyone. Dd's parties have been small enough, that she has been able to open a bunch of the presents inobtrusively just one-on-one with the child giving it to her either when the child arrives or is leaving. This is really nice. Kids love seeing their present opened, but others aren't sitting around getting bored or upset or embarrassed. Plays down the acquisition side of the whole thing.

I don't think it matters at all when the ty was written. they are going to say good things about the gift, regardless. You will never really know if it was enjoyed! I'd say any thank you note is a huge accomplishment in these times of busy parents. I am not at all offended if we don't get a note at all.

HTH!









me:smc (single mom by choice)
FSH: 16
Dd: Conceived when I was 42 after 2 years ttc. Conceived on 6th IVF cycle after 2 bfn's and 3 m/cs.
but it seems that DS is invited to quite a few 4 year b-day parties, and had only been invited to one 3 year party. Group playdate with food, love the concept! And also, what a nice idea of opening the gift either when they arrive or when they leave, I will remember this in the future. Thanks Tara for your reply, yes it helped!

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Joined: January 19th, 2007, 7:18 pm

October 16th, 2011, 3:56 am #10

OMG, I didn't realize this... no wonder! And then again, to have a big party at our house, I can so relate to the mad cleaning frenzy, there is just no other time during the week (month) to clean that thoroughly. OK, I can learn from others' party regrets As much as I would like to have a big party for DS, even at a bounce house type place, boy I just don't think I can pull it off this year. The mom at the Chuck E. Cheese party just had the special cups with the bendy straws and Chuck E. on top as the "goodie bag present" and I thought that was a good idea, since I dislike, ok hate, goodie bags too. Things have changed so much since I was a little girl.

And now I understand that my friend's son might not have had time to play with all of his gifts, but wanted to get a thank you note out anyway, now it makes sense to me. Thank you for your reply Ariadne, I'm glad we are sharing some similar challenges, even if we post so infrequently these days

I'm not sure what some of the chains/francises around here charge (Pump It Up & Little Gym are two of them) b/c we opted for a similar but local one-location place. It's steep & I was shocked. I get it b/c they have to clear the place for the next party, but I'm a little worried about clearing the place out in time, esp. since I'm not a "bullhorn" type of personality.

I think we're somewhat old school, Bethlyn, & I think that's OK. It can just be a little tough at times. Learn from my mistakes, though, & have no regrets. LOL! A friend of mine at work, whom I like a lot, avoided birthday parties until age 5 with her younger son. She planned his 5th for Chuck E. Cheese & then told me, darn, I could've gotten by another year. Her son had forgotten totally about the party as it approached. LOL!

You know what I found crazy? Trying to figure out, as a mom who works outside of the home full-time, who exactly ds likes & plays with. It was a bit heartbreaking, but I know that's the way it goes. I don't get to see what goes on there b/c I can't spend any time there. I relied on some teachers, though, as well as ds. I quizzed him mercilessly & ended up inviting the kids whose names came up repeatedly. In truth, ds wanted the whole class & when I said they couldn't all fit - b/c I would invite the whole class if I truly could - he said they could wait in line & take turns. He's such a sweet little guy. Not being able to include everyone also bothers me. I would prefer to do that, but there are 36 kids in his class, plus the ones he knows outside of preschool, so it's just not possible. That still makes me sad, as I like inclusion.

Anyway, I'm babbling now. That's what happens when both kids are finally in bed & I'm having a glass of wine! I get to talk or type without interruption. LOL!

In closing, can you believe they're going to be 4? I love it & it also breaks my heart. I think I posted before that ds has taken to mostly calling us mom & dad instead of mommy & daddy. Sniff, sniff. Little things like that are just so hard to believe. He's not even 4!



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