Do I Really Need to Throw My Child a Birthday Party When They Won’t Remember It?


To throw a party or not to throw a party, that is the question. And I have the answer – nope. Don’t do it. Skip it. They won’t remember it. If I could redo my entire parenting life over again, I’d skip the big, expensive, ridiculous, over-the-top early birthday parties in favor of cake and ice cream at home with just my husband and kids, and we’d start the party throwing at 3, when they begin remembering that stuff. Really, I have a good reason; and I’m happy to share this. See, the issue is that first birthdays have become these momentous occasions. I remember when our first daughter turned one. We spent over $1500 on a party for her that she doesn’t even remember. She had a 3-tier cake, a photo booth, a bounce house she didn’t even use because she was so small, and personalized water bottles, cups, plates, napkins and favors for all her little friends – also too young to remember.

We had lots of champagne, cocktails and amazing food with our friends, and we opened gifts our child did not care about in front of people who were too busy drinking their cocktails to care. Don’t get me wrong, we have a great time. But it’s just a stressful event to throw a party that’s really for us and no child will remember. We repeated the process when our second child turned one and when our twins turned one. Oh, and for every birthday in between.

And then something amazing happened; our daughter turned 7 two weeks ago. You know what she wanted to do for her birthday this year? She wanted to go to her favorite resort in Orlando, invite her best friends and have a hotel party. That meant we, our parents, our niece and nephew, our two best couple friends and their kids and some other family members spent a weekend lying by the pool, floating down the lazy river and otherwise just enjoying life to the fullest. And it was the nicest birthday party ever. I had no responsibilities and no mess to clean up. I loved it.

So here’s the issue; why throw a big, elaborate party for a kid that won’t even remember it? For the photos? To make yourself feel like a good parent? Because everyone else is doing it? There are many reasons you might choose to do this, but we can refute them all and make your life a lot easier. Here goes.

Why people do it

What’s up with the big and crazy and expensive and ridiculous early birthday parties? Well, it’s a thing. We all do it because everyone else is doing it. Perhaps it began as a simple, “Oh my, that was such an adorable idea and I want to incorporate it into my child’s first birthday party,” concept and then spiraled out of control. Social media shows off the parties other parents throw, and it makes some of us feel as if we have to keep up or add the same ideas. Pinterest is the worst; it is not helpful no matter how helpful it is. And then there is Etsy. You want it, you got it; for just a few dollars you can turn anything you want into a reality thanks to the crazy and talented skills of others. Essentially, you just threw a party because someone else made you feel as if you needed to, and that does not feel like a win to me. It feels like a very selfish use of your time and resources. Just wait on it.

Why you shouldn’t do it

Everyone is certainly happy that your kid turned one, but no one wants to come spend a few hours at a party in which they are required to shop for gifts your kid won’t care about and eat hot dogs. If you want to spend time with my kids, go ahead and ask me to see them and we’ll make it happen. There is no reason to spend hundreds, thousands of dollars on a party that your child will not remember when you can invite the grandparents over for a small cake and ice cream, some gifts and a relaxing evening at home. So do that.

What you should do instead

You are still celebrating the birth of your little one, but now you’re doing it in a very laid back and very inexpensive manner. Now, take that money that you would have spent on the child’s birthday and put it into a savings account. Use that for your child’s college tuition one day, or a first car, or those very expensive lessons your child wants to take. That’s a much better way to spend your money and to invest in your child rather than investing in a bunch of stuff that no one will remember and that will go away at the end of the day. It is a much better use of your funds. If we had done this for the first two birthday parties of our kids lives (for a grand total of 6 birthdays as of next year when the twins turn 2), we would have somewhere around $10,000 saved from not throwing parties.

When to begin throwing parties

Perhaps your opinion differs, and that is all right, but we have one of our own. I’ve lived and I’ve larned, and I have opinions. Now with four kids, I wish we’d skipped the first and second birthdays for them. Why? They don’t remember. But my kids do remember three and up. They remember very vividly what happens from three to their current ages, so I would have started there and relaxed for a few years. Perhaps you disagree, perhaps you agree. This is a debate, and this is just my opinion. If you feel that your kids could wait a little longer, go for it. I’m not here to tell you that you are wrong, only to tell you what I feel.

Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images


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