Birthday parties exhaust me - the invitations, the rsvps, the party favors, the food, accounting for food allergies, the craft projects with foam sticker backing pieces all over your house, the themed paper products ordered from Oriental Trading a bit too late and having to pay the exorbitant shipping, the pricey customized cake that is just perfect for the theme, cleaning the house for a party at home or shelling out $200 for a bounce house/bowling alley/ice skating rink/pottery painting/roller rink, and then hovering over your child the next two weeks as she slowly makes her way through thank you notes. Parties are fun and exciting for about the first five birthdays. Then, they just become very draining. I love celebrating my children's birthdays in some way. The day is special. It is important. It deserves a celebration of some sort. It just doesn't have to be the Build-a-Bear chaos, pizza in a crowded food court, cupcakes on coordinating plates year after year type of special and important.
When my oldest was turning 10, I had an epiphany. I would create a rule... a "no more birthday parties after age 10" rule. Ten would be a big blow-out bash with a slumber party at a hotel, and then after that, done, finito, the end... no more parties. Maybe we would have a party for 13 (becoming a teen) and for sweet 16, but other than that, birthdays after 10 are something very low-key. Acceptable options are taking a friend or two out to lunch and a movie, or inviting a friend or two out to dinner and a sleep-over. The main stipulations are that it has to be cheap, easy, involve NO effort on my part when it comes to inviting or accepting rsvps, and there are no gifts or party favors.
Last year, Elise turned 13, so we did have a small party - pizza at a pizza joint near the movie theater with four friends, and then they walked to the movie theater. It was simple and low-key as birthday parties go.
This year, it was like she completely forgot the whole "no birthday parties after you turn 10" thing. She announced, "For my birthday party this year, I want to go to a movie and out to eat with C and T and M and S and N and J and B" Um... no. My brain was calculating the cost of dinner and a movie for that many kids and knew it was quickly approaching the $200 mark. I reminded her, "No parties after age 10." She said, "Then how about I just invite a few friends to the pool?" "Done.", I replied. Pizza and cake for just a few friends served on paper plates leftover from previous parties... that I could manage. She was in charge of all the arrangements... inviting friends, making sure friends' parents had my contact information if they wanted to contact me (most didn't), and figuring out all the details.
For my role, I simply ordered a cake, ordered pizza, and picked up a few extra kids in carpool Friday afternoon. Easy peasy.
All in all, I think the "not a birthday party" was a success. I didn't scour the internet for paper goods or party favors. I didn't talk to any parents about allergies or whether or not it was a drop-off party. I didn't order any custom anything from Etsy. I ordered a grocery store cake with less than 24 hours notice and used the handy dandy Domino's Pizza app on my phone. All the kids had a great time. Elise felt like her birthday had been duly celebrated, and everyone had fun in the pool. "Not a party" perfection, I'd say.
Happy Birthday, Elise!!