Birthdays: What’s Hot, What’s Not

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OK, I may be a birthday purist, but I’ve seen moms and dads drop hundreds on big birthday bashes that found kids in tears before the end.

Honestly, your 1-year-old couldn’t give a hoot about all the balloons you’re blowing up. She doesn’t care about all the presents you’re wrapping and attempting to pile on her high chair tray and the table covered with carefully crafted treats. In fact, Mommy’s acting kind of funny. Why is Mommy so frantic?
    Let’s face it. Birthdays have a way of making us outdo ourselves. Once your child starts preschool or elementary school, the birthdays start coming on a regular rotation. Some moms are really, really good at putting them together, others get sort of panicky. The panicky mom will plop down hundreds so someone else will do the party for her at a destination of her choosing. The easy-does-it mom will have a home party and go about doing things herself without much fuss. But we all have a hard time keeping things simple. We think ‘people are coming over,’ and we start going nuts with the cleaning, the planning, the decorating. If we’re having an away-from-home party, we watch with eagle eyes to make sure the party hosts are doing things right. But the kids don’t care about all that, only YOU do. All that your child wants for her birthday is to have a good time with her friends and for her friends to have a good time. That’s it: A good time had by all. And yes, please, birthday cake and ice cream.
    OK, I may be a birthday purist, but I’ve seen moms and dads drop hundreds on big birthday bashes that found kids in tears before the end. I’ve seen kids rip into carefully packed goody bags, making mincemeat out of them on their way out the door. I’ve seen live pony rides with scared riders and backyard carnivals where boredom reigned, sleepovers in fancy hotel rooms and extravagant limousine rides where little girls dressed to the nines munched on cheese and crackers washed down with Kool-Aid. That’s a huge tab right there.
    What’s hot? Keeping your child’s birthday simple and carrying on calmly. IT IS NOT A BIG DEAL. IT DOES NOT HAVE TO COST MUCH.

       What’s NOT hot? Making a big, stressful deal out of ANYTHING.
    As your child grows up, you will accompany her to countless soirees and host a share of your own. Chill out about birthdays and the parties will happily fly by one by one. Get wigged out about them and that’s what you’ll remember one day: that you hated them, didn’t like planning them, couldn’t wait for them to be over. Is that what you REALLY want? (Shake your head here).  I didn’t think so!

Susan Day is editor of Cincinnati Family Magazine and a mother of four.

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