No More Birthday Parties -- Here's Why

I was born in the 90's. Birthday parties consisted of those little jugs of juice, some store bought cake, maybe hot dogs, and a pinata. It was a few kids, each of us bringing a small toy. But now, we are in the days of pinterest. Cakes as big as my wedding cake. Overly themed table settings. A huge table full of presents. And a bouncy house. Now, I'm not hating, I'm always down for a good party, but I am not about what comes with these parties. The pressure, the price, the expectations.

When Liam turned 1, I had had a pinterest board for months! His cake cost $50 because it had to be custom made. The building I rented was $100. I spent $100 at Party City for anything Toy Story (and that was with a coupon)! His gifts overflowed a table that could easily seat 8. I purchased specific goody bags and activities for the kids during the party. I literally spent months planning, hours executing, and hundreds of dollars for his 1st birthday. HIS FIRST BIRTHDAY! To top it off, we took him out to lunch and to the Children's Museum as well because, the party was clearly not enough. He had these big parties until his 5th birthday. I never got to enjoy them because I was running around before, during, and after. After I started staying home full time, I knew things would need to change.

Some of you may be seeing what I am saying, while others of you are "to each their own, let me do what I wanna do!". You're totally right, Susan. If you wanna go overboard, that's totally cool. My point is, most of us don't have money for these parties. Most of us get stressed out even thinking about throwing a birthday party. And most of us feel like we're depriving our children if we don't provide them with these types of parties.

When we started paying off debt, Liam was 5 and Nolan was 1. I knew Nolan wouldn't care, but would Liam? He had had 5 blow out birthday bashes. What would he do when we started simplifying his birthday? The answer, may surprise you.

Nolan's 2nd birthday was one of my favorites ever. We had to get creative. We set a $100 budget for his birthday. His birthday is exactly 1 month after Christmas, with Liam's only 6 weeks later. This budget included lunch for the day, his cake, that day's activity, decorations, and gifts. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be!

We planned a special breakfast and dinner at home. These meals came from our regular grocery budget. We started the morning with a fun pancake breakfast, a balloon tunnel at his door when ge woke up, and gifts. We took our time and went to lunch.We took Nolan to Burger King for his lunch out, which both boys were absolutely thrilled with! Who knew small kids didn't want fancy lunches for their special meals? We went to a Children's Museum we had a discount for as his birthday activity. We also decorated the van to say "Honk, I'm 2 today!" And guess what? The kids had an absolute blast. If we're being honest, Kyle & I did too.

Then came Liam's big day. Number 6. He wanted EVERYTHING Nolan had for his birthday. Done! He also got a new bike we scored on Black Friday a few months prior. We went to his favorite Children's Museum we had passes for (Mimi got these for us for Christmas). And he had the same fancy breakfast + dinner, and picked Burger King for lunch. And again, they had an absolute blast!

For their 3rd and 7th birthday's this year, they both chose to eat lunch out (one at Taco Bell, one at Burger King) and play games for an hour at Chuck E Cheese (we had a coupon!). We decked out the house, made the homemade cake, and they got their gifts, and as I quote "it was the best day ever!"

These past two years have truly taught me, kids don't care about a lot of things we adults think they do. As long as they feel special on their birthday, that's all they care about! They don't need huge parties, tables full of gifts, and $50 birthday cakes. They are more than happy with an hour at Chuck E Cheese, a few gifts, and a $1 box of cake mix with a toy on top!

I think once they start getting older, we may up their budget, start allowing a friend or two, maybe doing our vacation around their birthdays, or something different in the future.

Here is what I hope you take away from this, let go of the stress, the debt, and the guilt. Give them a beautiful day and a memory for life!