Overzealous Birthday Parties Just Aren't as Fun

A mother discovers that children have more fun at uncomplicated birthday parties

In Her Words

The Uncomplicated Birthday Party

A retro-style party turns out extra special

-Jill Coury

little girl holding birthday cakeYesterday was my daughter’s 6th birthday party. Through the years, the parties have grown larger, more lavish and far too complicated. It seems children’s parties are no longer designed necessarily for the children, but rather to impress the other parents. I have to admit, we have found ourselves racked with “party-competition” syndrome.

This year, I thought it was finally time to stop the competitive cycle. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned parties, where the kids played musical chairs, went on treasure hunts and dove after candy spilled from a broken pinata? Birthday cakes were made at home and hand-decorated by Mom (who else?). Kids chased each other, laughing hysterically, while parents drank lemonade and chatted. Where are the retro days of the not-so-special parties, where everyone had fun?

This was to be the year where I was going to put my foot down and throw my daughter the kind of party my parents threw for me. The kind of party where the activities were not designed to impress the adults but instead to please the kids who actually participated in them.

So my daughter Kalie and I came up with a fairy-themed party. I planted fairy-like items throughout the yard for the girls to find, they made their own fairy treasure bags and we even had a pinata filled with candy. After the girls had finished participating in the planned activities, I noticed something interesting. They seemed to be having more fun doing activities that we hadn’t planned for the party. They jumped endlessly on the trampoline, giggling and hanging out together. They ate homemade cupcakes with ice cream, of course (it was store-bought – let’s not go crazy here), and they enjoyed every last bite.

Later that night, I asked Kalie if she’d had fun that day. She told me it was her best birthday party yet and she couldn’t wait until next year. I realized the overzealous parties we throw for our children, in hopes of providing them with a richer childhood, may not have worked. As I look back at the retro birthday parties, the games were simple, the gifts were simple, and most important, the kids were simply having fun.

Jill Coury is a mother of three who lives the suburban dream: carpools, volunteer work and loads of dirty laundry! Visit her at www.jillcoury.com.

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