Dance Parties, BBQs, And Sleepovers: Anything Other Than Birthday Parties

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I wrote before of my dislike of birthday parties (see: No More Party Hats: I Hate Birthday Parties). But my children are getting older and I have been wondering how well my theories on these parties will hold up under pressure. But thanks to a friend, I better understand why I dislike these parties so much and how I can avoid making them so important in my family.

This friend of mine was the oldest of seven children, Each year on the kids’ birthdays, they would get a homemade cake. But that was about it. Their mom really didn’t like birthday parties. I gather it was because she wasn’t sold that character was developed by doting on someone by making them the center of attention on their birthday.

But on the other hand, my friend’s house was known as “the party house” around town. Because while the parents didn’t embrace the relatively recent innovation of annual birthday parties for kids, they were huge fans of parties in general. And so the children would be encouraged to come up with an idea for a party, develop the theme, invite the friends, and then be the best hosts and hostesses around.

The family not being loaded, creativity was the key when it came to coming up with party favors, themes and treats.

I love this idea. And what’s funny is that I love parties, too. I love to throw them and love excuses to throw them. Learning that other families also aren’t sold on the hedonism of the modern birthday party has helped me realize why I’m not a fan, too. Birthdays are certainly special, and I have thrown parties for my kids and my husband and will throw birthday parties for them in the future. Maybe the kids will each get a couple of bonafide birthday parties with friends over where they get to be feted. They’ll never lack for presents, I’m sure, what with my generous family and in-laws spoiling them at every birthday and holiday.

But in general, I’d like them to think more about how they can become good hostesses and hosts and how they can show their friends a good time. Learning how to get gifts and appreciate them is certainly a valuable skill. But learning how to serve others and make them feel special and have a good time is all the better.

I don’t want to get all Babette’s Feast on everyone, but serving others is where joy comes from.

So I think I’ll encourage my little ones to throw parties often — dance parties, barbecues, sleepovers and whatever else comes to mind. We’ll make those birthday parties a bit less important. And we’ll make parties about people, not just one person.