Why are birthday parties so stressful?
I believe that throwing a party for your child and just her closest friends makes for a far more enjoyable experience for all involved, but will this cause a classroom war?
My daughter is all about the parties this year, and this fills me with absolute fear. Each time she comes back from a friend's party her head is filled with yet more requirements for her own. A princess castle birthday cake with 20 different types of icing, chocolate fountains, clowns and bouncy castles. She also wants to invite 200 guests.
If I had my way, we would celebrate with immediate family only, in Pizza Express, sing Happy Birthday, eat chocolate fudge cake and affectionately bop each other on the head with their balloons on sticks.
Implementing a party rule
A few years ago, in an attempt to protect my own sanity and minimise stress for both myself and my children, I implemented a new rule. My kids are only allowed to invite one friend per year of age, so if turning five they could invite five friends. Up until now I have successfully stuck to this rule without a hitch. In fact my kids have always positively enjoyed their parties, and not turned into monsters at any point during proceedings.
However, now that my daughter is older and far more aware of what parties can be like, coupled with the fact that she is now at school and making new friends, I am wondering whether my rule is viable. I worry that I may unwittingly cause friction between her and her classmates if they are not all invited to her party, and cause my daughter upset when they in turn don't invite her to their party.
But I just cannot get out of my head the image of hundreds of little people running around screaming and shouting and beating each other up in an E-number-induced frenzy. It doesn't make for a very pleasant experience. It is overwhelming for the birthday child, not to mention the parents. I believe that celebrating with a handful of close friends in a semi-civilised manner, is far more enjoyable.
Putting too much pressure on myself
Last year, even with just four little people in attendance, plus their parents and siblings and my daughter's grandparents, my stress levels went through the roof. This is because I I turn into one of those intensely annoying mums who stupidly puts a huge amount of pressure on themselves to throw the perfect party. Having been up til 3am the night before decorating the house, painting banners, modelling balloons, and baking 15 different types of cake, not to mention the birthday cake, by the time the first child arrived I was at breaking point.
I got through it by secretly swigging wine from a teacup and then drunkenly danced like a loon to the hokey cokey, in front of my daughter's bemused friends and their parents. I made a stern promise to myself the following morning, that I would employ the help of Mr Sainsbury for the next party, and ease off on any attempts of domestic goddess-ness.
Sticking to my rules
I have been completely torn over what I should do this year, and have toyed with the idea of just letting my daughter invite who the heck she likes, hire out the local community centre, get outside catering and clowns, break the bank, have a nervous breakdown, and be done with it.
However, aside from the costs of a huge party, I genuinely don't think that my daughter would enjoy a raucous celebration. So, after a lot of thought I have decided to stick to my rule of number of invitees equals the number of candles on the life-sized fairy princess castle birthday cake. And I just hope to goodness that my daughter, along with the 195 uninvited guests, will not take umbrage, and that this decision will not cause a classroom war.
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