Birthday Party Guidelines For Your Child’s First Eighteen Years

1 year

Don’t have a party. Your kid won’t remember. And you will spend most of your time trying to keep him or her awake when it is nap time or bed time.

You don’t need to waste time making an Elmo cake from scratch or waste money on party decorations and food and booze for grown-ups. (Cause grown ups need booze to survive the one-year-old birthday party).

Instead, invite your closest relatives over and let your one-year-old smash his first taste of cake in his face, take some pictures, and post them on Facebook along with the obligatory “I can’t believe it’s been a year! Somebody slow time down!”

Take the money that you would have spent on the party and instead put it into a college or car or house fund for your kid.

2 years 

Don’t have a party. Your kid won’t remember. And you will spend most of your time trying to keep him or her awake when it is nap time or bed time.

You don’t need to waste time making a princess cake from scratch or waste money on party decorations and food and booze for grown-ups. (Cause grown ups need booze to survive the two-year-old birthday party).

Invite your closest relatives over and let your two-year-old blow out the candles on her cake, then clap and make a big deal when she does it. After she completely just licks the top of the cake, watch her eat cake like a big girl with a fork , take some pictures, and post them on Facebook along with the obligatory “I can’t believe she’s two! Somebody slow time down!”

Take the money that you would have spent on the party and instead put it into a college or car or house fund for your kid.

3 years

Don’t have a party. Your kid won’t remember.

You don’t need to waste time making a Thomas cake from scratch or waste money on party decorations and food and booze for grown-ups. (Cause grown ups need booze to survive the three-year-old birthday party).

Invite your closest relatives over and let your three-year-old blow out the candles on his cake, then clap and make a big deal when he does it, watch him eat cake like a big boy with a fork, take some pictures, and post them on Facebook along with the obligatory “I can’t believe he’s three! Somebody slow time down!”

Take the money that you would have spent on the party and instead put it into a college or car or house fund for your kid.

4 years

DO NOT INVITE THE ENTIRE CLASS TO A PARTY AT CHUCK  E. CHEESE.

Adhere to the general rule: your kid’s age +1.

Invite 5 friends to a really cheap place. Even better, hold the party somewhere that’s free. Like a playground.

Bring a picnic.

Let them play together and then eat some cake.

Post obligatory shit on Facebook.

Take the money that you would have spent on the big party for the whole class at Chuck E. Cheese and instead put it into a college or car or house fund for your kid.

5 years

DO NOT INVITE THE ENTIRE CLASS TO A PARTY AT CHUCK  E. CHEESE.

Explain to your child that a big party every year is not a requirement.

Invite your closest relatives over. Eat cake. Open presents. Post obligatory shit on Facebook and be done with it.

Take the money that you would have spent on the big party for the whole class at Chuck E. Cheese and instead put it into a college or car or house fund for your kid.

6 years

DO NOT INVITE THE ENTIRE CLASS TO A PARTY AT CHUCK  E. CHEESE.

Adhere to the general rule: your kid’s age +1.

Invite 7 friends to your house and make sure you let their parents know that they don’t need to hang around. In fact, tell them they must go spend that time alone doing something enjoyable, and that they should come back in two hours when the party is over.

Invite some twelve-year-olds over to run the party for the kids.

Play some cheap old fashioned crowd pleasers, like pin the tail on the donkey. Don’t worry about decorations because most 6-year-old kids don’t really give a crap about that.

Eat cake, open presents, blah blah blah.

Post obligatory shit on Facebook.

Take the money that you would have spent on the big party for the whole class at Chuck E. Cheese and instead put it into a college or car or house fund for your kid.

7 years

DO NOT INVITE THE ENTIRE CLASS TO A PARTY AT CHUCK  E. CHEESE.

Explain (again) to your child that a big party every year is not a requirement.

Invite your closest relatives over. Eat cake. Open presents. Post obligatory shit on Facebook and be done with it.

Take the money that you would have spent on the big party for the whole class at Chuck E. Cheese and instead put it into a college or car or house fund for your kid.

8 years

DO NOT INVITE THE ENTIRE CLASS TO A PARTY AT CHUCK  E. CHEESE.

Explain (again) to your child that a big party every year is not a requirement.

Explain to your child that you are going to have a birthday “experience” rather than a party.

Spend the afternoon or day, one-on-one with your child. Set a budget for the afternoon and stick to it.

Post obligatory shit on Facebook.

Take the money that you would have spent on the big party for the whole class at Chuck E. Cheese and instead put it into a college or car or house fund for your kid.

9 years

Same as 8 years.

10 years

Double digits. That’s a big deal.

Throw a party at the place of your child’s choosing (within reason).

By this age they should have at least outgrown fucking Chuck E. Cheese.

Post obligatory shit on Facebook.

11- 12 years

Birthday experience.

Set a budget. Let your child come up with the idea for what he or she would like to do with you.

Match the budget and put that amount of money into a college or car or house fund for your kid.

Post obligatory shit on Facebook.

13- 15 years

Birthday experience.

Set a budget. Let your child come up with the idea for what he or she would like to do.

Allow your child to invite one or two friends to share in the experience with him or her.

Match the budget and put that amount of money into a college or car or house fund for your kid.

Post obligatory shit on Facebook.

16 years

Throw a sweet sixteen party.

It will be special because your kid hasn’t had a ridiculous party every year for the past 15 years.

So it doesn’t need to be over the top.

Set a budget.

Match the budget and put that amount of money into a college or car or house fund for your kid.

Post obligatory shit on Facebook.

17 years

Birthday experience.

Set a budget. Let your child come up with the idea for what he or she would like to do.

Allow your child to invite one or two friends to share in the experience with him or her.

Match the budget and put that amount of money into a college or car or house fund for your kid.

Post obligatory shit on Facebook.

18 years

Small party with relatives.

Present your child with a big ass check to pay for the first year of college or a car or a down payment on a house, made possible by your smart birthday decisions in the first 17 years.

Post obligatory shit on Facebook, along with pictures of the cake from year one captioned with Eighteen years. Where did the time go???,

bawl your brains out,

and cross your fingers as you watch them fly away from the nest.

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36 replies
  1. Irene C.
    Irene C. says:

    We are trying to have our kid’s birthday parties at home. We play pin the tail on the donkey, freeze dance and have a piñata. I think all the kids have a really good time. We only had one party outside the house, because our house was a construction zone at the time.
    Great idea for a sweet sixteen, my cousin through her daughter a pool party (weather and location dependent) and got a bouncy house for 16 years old….they had a blast!

    Reply
  2. GwynEth
    GwynEth says:

    It took us five years of trying to get pregnant and draining a huge portion of our retirement account/ life savings and two failed adoptions before I ended up pregnant out of no where in the middle of a huge three week trial. (I’m an attorney). When our first son was 13 months, I was blessed to be pregnant again with a second son. I had significant complications with both pregnancies and had life threatening post birth complications with my second son. So… We had a huge first birthday party for our first baby and plan to do so for the second as well. Also memories develop with speech – my first son is very verbal and spoke full sentences at one year so he definitely remembers his second birthday party (Elmo theme- who can forget). We are also lucky enough that we had kids later in life and they already have a good start in their 529b accounts. Every dime we receive for them goes directly into their accounts and mom and dad match whatever goes in.
    At the end of the day, my joy at celebrating the fact that God gave me two previous children is reason to share that joy with friends and family. That’s why I have a party for my kids each year. I am very blessed and I know it and thank God each day for all I have. Every day isn’t always great, but when you look at the big picture, we are doing pretty good.

    Reply
    • Isabel
      Isabel says:

      Yes Gwyneth!! I LOVE throwing big parties for my children’s birthdays. Every year they are alive and healthy is another year to celebrate. And they get to invite all the neighborhood kids, and school kids, and whatever other friends they have, to enjoy their celebration of life as well. I don’t mind spending a couple hundred dollars on one day a year that the focus is on them and it’s fun and over the top and exciting. And just because we spend that money towards the celebration doesn’t mean that we don’t have savings accounts for future plans.

      Reply
      • Shannon
        Shannon says:

        I agree 100% with your comment. I’d also add that there doesn’t have to be so much emphasis on whether they’ll remember it, in my opinion. My son just turned 3 and is crazy about spiderman, so I threw a big superhero/spiderman-themed party at home. He had so much fun THAT DAY and even if he doesn’t remember it at all years from now, the enjoyment he had on that one day was enough for me. Plus he’s talked about it numerous times since then, so he’s reliving the excitement over & over, at least for now. Money well spent!

        Reply
  3. D
    D says:

    Great ideas. Simple is good, but holy negative Nellie! It seems the idea of your child having a birthday really pisses you off. Try to at least pretend to have fun.

    Reply
  4. jamie
    jamie says:

    Birthday parties don’t have to be expensive! I just threw a party for my 6 year old at pizza hut. Bought 6 pizzas for $7 each. Invited 2 classes of kindergarteners so 50 kids and families and payed for admission to OMSI for everyone on first Sunday of the month so it was $1 per person instead of $12 per person. I also made a two tier cake that cost me $20.
    I didn’t buy her anything and she made out like crazy. Worth it because I normally would have spent that much on presents and a little party any other way.

    Reply
  5. BRandi
    BRandi says:

    Here’s a rule all parents should follow: quit making shitty, judgemental blog posts dripping with sanctimonious birthday party judgement. Don’t throw a big birthday party for your kid? Good for you. Throw a big birthday party for your kid? Good for you. Shut up with the stupid party judgement already. Why don’t you teach your children something like “don’t judge others for petty crap”?

    Reply
  6. Whitney
    Whitney says:

    You have lost your mind. Kids deserve to have a birthday party every year. Maybe not big but they still need one. That one day a year is to celebrate the child and every thing they have accomplished the past year. I don’t mind spending money on my child to celebrate them.

    Reply
  7. J. preston
    J. preston says:

    what a load! Why wouldn’t we celebrate our children and the beautiful people they are.. Live life and enjoy these beautiful moments even if they don’t remember they are worth celebrating on any level. Saving money can still be done you don’t have to cut corners on some of the most beautiful life experiences for the sake of college .. Crap your kids are only little once lighten up on the seriousness and embrace that and celebrate them!

    Reply
  8. Diane
    Diane says:

    I love this post! Wish it was around when my kids were little, would have saved me a lot of stress and money for something they don’t remember and they would have a college fund! I love the small party,at home ideas and the one on one time with your child. We stopped parties at age 10. Thanks for being real and saying what everyone thinks but won’t say!

    Reply
  9. Rayna
    Rayna says:

    Parents, do what you feel is best. You can give your child a party and not have it break the bank. A birthday is a special day, it comes once a year. I have wonderful memories of my mum planning and doing what she & my dad could afford to make sure we had fun.

    Reply
  10. Barbara
    Barbara says:

    I love this post. I have 3 kids. Yes they are all mine and #3 was not planned. I love to celebrate my kids birthdays but its freakin stressful and its starts in August because their bdays are all in late summer/fall. They spend a lot of time when it come up to their birthdays and they tell me what they want who they want to invite. Sometimes life gets in the way and we have to change the plans up…sorry middle child number #2 has a mid December birthday… he’s the one that always always wants to invite a lot of kids!!! With #1 – we had a huge 1rst b-day that we all hardly remember so I didn’t repeat with the second…our 3rd didn’t have a huge b-day until he was 4. I try to stick with an every other year you have a big birthday. My oldest only wants a few close friends every year. It is what it is – and you go with the flow…

    Reply
  11. Cass
    Cass says:

    I feel sad for this person’s child. Birthdays only come around once a year. You don’t need to break the bank. But every year of life merits a celebration.

    Reply
  12. brandi
    brandi says:

    This is ridiculous. I am a mother three and we only have one income coming in and we still manage to throw a huge party for every birthday. It is a BIG deal in my family to celebrate our kids . just Two weeks ago we threw my three year old daughter a beauty and the beast party per her request at a n indoor play zone with 14 kids present and a special visit from princess belle herself . I am pinterest mommy so I made all the decor myself which saved money . my kids are only kids for a short time and they only turn every age once and I will spend whatever I need to to make memories …….and first birthdays are even more important .

    Reply
  13. ruby
    ruby says:

    I come from a big family… 7 kids total. My parents never had d budget for any big or small parties.. They had a rule that they would only celebrate our 1st, 5th, and 10th birthday with a barbque only fir us and our grandparents… For the 3 girls in our house there was going to be an additional 15th birthday party wich was going to be celebrated with all our relatives a big cake, a big pink dress etc .. I planned to.do the same for my kids but my husband has a big family who.loves paties so every year we start planning a small celebration and it ends up being a party… I cant help my self on decorating my house with whatevervtheme my son or daughter choose that year.. They dress up, there is music, i fill our pool with water a lot of food is served I place a lot of goodies on the table. I hope we could keep celebrating their birthdays every year and shiw them the pics. Of how awesome their parties were and how people really enjoyed being there. If later i cant make them anything, at least they have had a party and it was better than i ever had…

    Reply
  14. LisaG
    LisaG says:

    🙂 My youngest has had one birthday party with friends ever…The year he turned 6, and he is 7 now. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t feel any less loved than if he had a bunch of big parties. His older brother has a couple more parties, 3 I think, he is 8 years old. I’m pretty sure neither boy thinks we love the other one more or less because of the birthday parties. Sometimes it is timing, sometimes it is circumstances, but never is it a reflection of love and big parties with themes and lots of kids has never been a requirement for having a well rounded childhood. Love the post.

    Reply
  15. Jason
    Jason says:

    Great post! I’ve been doing my kids’ bdays like this every year. They have a blast and my wallet isn’t emptied in the process.

    On a side note, I actually remember my 1st bday. I remember sitting on the dining room floor and destroying that smash cake. Such a fun memory.

    Ignore the haters. They don’t know you, so their opinion really doesn’t matter. The internet is full of people like them.

    Reply
  16. Jacons
    Jacons says:

    If you don’t like to throw large parties for your kid and would rather put the funds in a college savings (if you don’t have available funds for both), that’s great. It’s a very smart decision. College is important. If you have excess funds for both college and parties, yet feel that parties prior to a certain age are pointless for the child and you don’t get anything out of it, that’s great too. However, don’t knock other people’s ways of celebrating. If you hate Chuck E Cheese so much the next time your child or children get an invite to a Chuck E Cheese party, decline. There is no force at work making you accept these invitations. Even if someone’s 1, 2. or 3 year old isn’t going to remember and cherish their parties for the rest of their lives maybe the parents get something out of it. Maybe the parents that throw these parties are social and like the opportunity to socialize with the other parents of kids their child’s same age. To share my perspective, my child is 3, and we’ve had parties for all 3 birthdays. They’ve been great happy experiences where we’ve gotten as much out of it as our child. Laughing with the other parents and family over our kids’ antics while they’re being goofy, and getting a chance to talk in a large group of other Moms for me has been great to discuss their milestones for their age, and getting to laugh at some of the “trying” moments in parenting. For us, it’s an event to look forward to.
    I’m not going to knock your choices as a parent, please don’t knock mine and others.
    On another note, To the comment posters who are being really terrible implying that this blogger is a bad parent, shame on you. We all set our priorities as parents, and we all do the best that we can. That’s what counts.

    Reply
  17. Tammi
    Tammi says:

    I love this post. I am so sick of over the top birthday parties. We did opt to have first birthday parties for each of our boys but, that was mostly for families sake. But we kept it low key and right in our backyard. They arent having a birthday party this year. I picked a date right in between their birthdays and told friends and family we are going to be out at the lake and if they want to join us they can, but they need their own food and no presents.

    Reply
  18. Nikki
    Nikki says:

    Great fucking blog! I love it. fuck the haters, let them turn their kids into entitled brats. I have admittedly went over the top on a few parties and ended up regretting the money WASTED when my kids didn’t give two shits anyways and NO they do not remember their fucking 2nd birthday miss attorney. Do you remember yours? to each their own, raise your own babies and quit worrying about a blog that says the fuck word a time or two. my kids know they are the most important part of our lives and that everything we do is for them because *gasp* we tell them so every day. they know mommy and daddy work their asses off to give them everything they need and a lot of things that they want. they know that experiences are worth far more than things at the young age of 3 and 5 and would much rather go hang out on our boat with a few close friends or go fishing in the mountains than go to Chuck E fucking Cheese. And they are going to be better adults for it.

    Reply
    • Danielle
      Danielle says:

      I fucking love this comment and was starting to get annoyed by the judgmental comments posted above. And I’m with you! Love this post

      Reply
  19. Jessica W
    Jessica W says:

    Shit – I wished I had read this 6 years ago!!! I finally figured it out on my own and this years birthday party will be a couple of friends over to watch Kittens play on the TV!! (I have girl that will be 7 years in a couple of months) And we have already had the your present is your gift talk. She has enough stuff….

    Reply
  20. Danielle
    Danielle says:

    As a rookie mom to a 2 month old I’m sad to see in these comments that parent shaming is so present. I see this post as a fun/ silly way for someone to give their OPINION. We are all still within our rights to agree or disagree with that opinion but to call the blogger a bad parent is disgraceful. And if someone using a curse word is offensive to you then stop reading. For the record I agree with the overall message of this post, creating memories with family and close friends to celebrate my child’s future birthdays sounds like exactly what I will be doing.

    Reply
  21. Kendra
    Kendra says:

    I have 6 kids and we have celebrated all their birthdays…. But we don’t go all out for parties.. I just celebrated my twins 3rd birthday and we had family… We had a cake and they got a few presents.. My older kids r about to have birthdays in July.. My son will be 14 and daughter will be 12.. FYI this is the FIRST year having their parties separately only because their birthdays r 10days apart.. I will have a FEW friends, cake at our house and then lake afterword.. Excuse me for saying this but when u have a lot of kids and 1 income it is a lil difficult to “GO ALL OUT” for each of their birthdays.. Sorry rant over..

    Reply
  22. ThePrudentNinja
    ThePrudentNinja says:

    Pretty reasonable guidelines. Of course, the use of profanity isn’t needed on a motherly blog lol. As a kid my birthday parties were always small and usually mostly family members. I had plenty of fun and enjoyed them. You don’t need to “invite everybody” to a birthday party. Ten people tops is plenty. Half or more should be FAMILY. The importance of family can’t be stressed enough. What a child needs is to be around their family more than their “friends”. Friends come and go, Family is always there. To top it off, most friends are really not friend. More like acquaintances. Of the large birthday parties I’ve been to, the birthday kid didn’t seem anywhere near as happy as with smaller more family oriented birthday parties.

    Reply
  23. Carla
    Carla says:

    Lol. I think you need some positive feedback for a change. Thank you for being reasonable. I’m a mother to two wonderful grown daughters and grandmother to five growing grandkids. Your guidelines totally make sense. The fact that parents throw parties costing hundreds and thousands of dollars is obscene.

    We had a very tight budget when our girls were little, so large parties weren’t even an option. My husband was in the military so we never lived near family. Birthdays were a family and close friend affair,

    When our older daughter turned two, a wonderful lady from church had given her a hand made cabbage patch doll which my daughter promptly named “Suzy.” When her sister turned one, the same lady gave my younger daughter a smaller hand made likeness of a cabbage patch doll, to which my older daughter squealed in delight “‘nother Suzy!”

    Subsequent preschool birthdays involved setting up the table for places for all their stuffed animals while we cut the cake. Our one foray into inviting the whole class for party was one experience that I determined I would never repeat. Too much noise and ironically didn’t seem as centered on my daughter’s birthday as it was on entertaining a group of kids I hardly knew.

    We homeschooled for several years so birthdays became a “day off” and was centered on doing an activity that our daughter’s wanted to do for the day (fishing, hiking, ceramics, bowling, whatever). They would chose the dinner and desert they wanted me to make. As they got older they had sleepovers with a few friends.

    And as for your cursing, if people don’t like what you are saying on “your” blog they can exit your page. This is your means of expression. They aren’t being forced to read your blog or share it. If someone agrees with you but is upset about your language they can get off their butts and make their own sanitized version of a blog.
    Lol..believe me even if some parents insist those words never pass their lips, they have thought those words in their heads.

    Reply
  24. Darci
    Darci says:

    I think you’re brilliant. And I agree with all you said. I also don’t believe you are PREACHING at other parents or telling anyone who chooses to have a bday party that they are bad. But your ideas are genius.

    We chose to wait until 5 to have our son’s first official bday party. Kicked the parent out, and hired one 10 year old to help with games. It was awesome, and I overheard one helicopter dad mention that “She sure schooled us in how to do a party!” Nothing much, and I think total cost was under $100. Next year, we may just choose 2 favorite friends to go to a water park or something.

    But to all you perfect parents out there, Good Luck! Shaming Suzie for her opinion is mindless behavior. She’s got 7 kids under her belt, (haha). She IS kind of an expert. Oh, and her blog is aptly named, Not Your Average Mom. So if you don’t like her advice, pass on by.

    Xoxox, Suzie. I think you’re amazing.

    Reply

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