When I was a kid, birthday parties were just immediate family, due in part to the facts that: 1) there were barely enough chairs for our household of 7 kids, parents, and grandparents; 2) activities like sleepovers, field trip chaperoning, and friend birthday parties were off my parents’ cultural radar; and 3) our home was in a fairly steady state of disrepair and disarray.
And while Laurel’s birthday guest list tends to be long due to the many wonderful friends and family we have in the area, part of me is acutely aware that the reason I become, for example, a lunatic baker around her birthday is pure residual overcompensation. I don’t need my therapist to tell me that.
My mama pal Erica recently pointed me to Birthdays Without Pressure, an interesting website charged with launching local and national dialog about why children’s birthday parties have gotten out of control, what the consequences are for kids and parents, and what to do about it. In addition to user interactive elements, they offer a host of ideas for reducing party pressure. I also learned from a friend of Erica’s (thanks Amy from Northampton!) of some terrific pressure-free party ideas, including having joint parties for playgroup pals, and forgoing presents in favor of book swaps, a kids recipe exchange, giving flower seeds for a garden, or – and I love this one – asking each friend to bring a picture to make a buddy collage for the birthday child.