How to throw an unbirthday party

Is it just me, or have birthday parties gotten out of hand? I'm not one to rain on any kid's parade - I DO realize that birthdays are super special for kids. But are they special because the child is truly excited, or are they special because we parents tend to hype them up?

For the past 6 years, we have done some pretty epic birthday parties for our oldest. She was our first, so of course I went out of my way to come up with spectacular themes, order the most beautiful cake, and decorate the house in a style worthy for Pinterest.

The tea party birthday

The tea party birthday

My enthusiasm came crashing down last year when I threw a "tea party" birthday and accidentally invited 13 kids (ok fine, it wasn't accidental, but I didn't expect every single kid to RSVP "yes!") The beautiful scene was set, with miniature tables and chairs, porcelain tea cups and pots, mini sandwiches and cupcakes. And the result? It was really, really loud. And stressful. And messy. 

Not to mention the fact that these birthdays are often overwhelming for our little ones. They barely have time to look at one present before 5 small people are pressing their way into the crowd shouting "Open mine next! Open mine next!"

I swore up and down that I wouldn't do it again. My littlest has been totally neglected in this department, and often just gets some cake and a mini celebration with a couple of friends (it's also the fact that she has just started school now, so doesn't really have a network of friends yet!)

So this year, we are doing an "unbirthday" party. I asked my daughter to think of 2-3 friends she really wants to spend time with, and told her we would be going out somewhere. We decided on a $5 movie at Cine Starz, and will then walk back to our house for some snacks, cake and playtime. 

Have you ever done an unbirthday for your child? Check out some ideas below!

A special activity

Most places charge over $150 to organize/host a birthday party. Instead, ask your child to choose 2 friends to invite and just go! You can have parents drop the kids off at the location, or perhaps you have enough car seats on hand (and a bigger vehicle!) to pick everyone up. And if you want to offer some food, pack snacks and cake in a cooler! 

Just go eat

I don't know about your kids, but mine love eating out! So invite 2-3 friends for a nice dinner somewhere, and ask the restaurant staff to stick a candle in the dessert.

You could also consider a weekend brunch, or maybe fancy high tea at the Chateau Laurier

Forgo the party for a super awesome gift

Has your child been asking for a special (and expensive) toy? Ask them if they'd rather give up the party in exchange for the thing they desire!

Do the party, but forget the extras

If you really want to do a party, but need to simplify, consider these tips:

- ask everyone to bring a used gift; perhaps something they have at home that they don't want anymore, or maybe some books they're done with. It makes gift giving less stressful, especially for the parents of the kids who are attending!
- don't do loot bags
- order in pizza instead of trying to make food
- buy a cheap-o cake or just do ice cream in special sugar cones

There are so many ways to reduce the stress we feel about birthday parties, and I'm going to hazard a guess that this will also reduce your child's inevitable party meltdown.

It's my party
and I'll cry if I want to
cry if I want to, cry if I want to
You would cry too if it happened to you...