To Plan Big Children’s Parties or Not

I love parties.  I love planning parties.  I love the details, the organization, the creativity and ingenuity.  I love taking a theme and tying it through the whole event with little touches.  And I love trying to do it on a slim budget.  For me, it is fun.  But then again, I used to professionally plan weddings and other fun events.

So enter the debate:  How big is too big for a child’s party?  Is there such a thing as too much or over the top?  

Obviously, I am going to be a little biased here because I love parties.  But first let me say that yes, I think there is such a thing as too much (and I’ll get to that later).  However, I fully recognize that where the line falls depends on the individual.

I have been to very simple birthday parties where the kids had a blast.  It doesn’t take much to please children.  And if you’re using your imagination, it can be done with even less.  A little play and birthday cake makes my kids happy.

For me, I enjoy doing all the dreaming, planning and even the executing.  I like to create the atmosphere, the themed food, games and activities.  But the key is I love doing it.  If you don’t enjoy the elaborate planning, that is totally ok!  Because what it is really about is celebrating your child.  

Here is when I think a child’s party has gotten a tad out of control:

  • When it costs too much (you’ll have to fill in the dollar amount).  Did you ever see the TLC show, “Outrageous Kid Parties” when it was running?  Let’s just say that a preschool graduation party for $20K or an eight year old’s party for $32K is WAY TOO MUCH!  If I spend more than a couple hundred dollars, I’m freaking out.  The figure that makes you comfortable may be a lot more or less than mine.  And that is ok, too!  
  • When it is so over the top that other children will begin to feel bad about their own birthday parties.  I do a lot for my kid’s birthdays (and other random parties), but I always want to be sensitive to this.  If you saw even just one episode of Outrageous Kid Parties, you would agree it would be pretty hard to compete with a $32K birthday party.
  • When it is done to replace the value a child should be feeling all year long.  I could throw the best birthday parties ever, but if my child doesn’t feel special and valued by me the other 364 days of the year, then I have failed. 
Planning a child’s birthday party is a lot of work whether you keep it to the basics or go all out.  Let’s face it, when you have children, even cleaning the house for company is an accomplishment!  So have fun and enjoy celebrating your child.  
What do you think?  I’d love you to leave a comment and I’m sure many people will have varying opinions on this subject.  Please share your thoughts but also be respectful and kind to those you may disagree with.  Thank you!
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  1. I agree with you. It’s about showing your child how special they are to you. Do enough where you aren’t freaking out and stressed, especially about money, but are still able to enjoy the day with your child. Keep the size to where you can manage the details.

  2. I love planning and executing themed parties too! I try to keep parties around 20 bucks or less, honestly. But we repurpose, as I’m sure you do, a lot of stuff around the house. Thousands of dollars? I can’t imagine!
    I do think a party can get too big guest-wise, especially considering the age of your child. Sometimes a smaller get together allows them to enjoy the experience more.

    • Heather, you are awesome! I bet your parties are a blast! I once heard (I think from Dr. Phil) that you should invite the # of kids corresponding to the age of the child. For example, four year old – invite four friends. I find this to be one of the hardest parts of party planning. Keeping it modest in # without excluding anyone.

  3. Hi Kristen! Great post! I am a wedding and event planner on sabbatical (for who knows how long)! I have little ones at home and just find I can’t care for brides while I care for toddlers! But because I love to plan events, and to keep my planning skills up, I love planning my kids bday parties and we do them at home and do it up! I confess I do tend to get a little stressed out in the few days before, but it is just because I like to do lots of hands on things and the time runs out before the work is done. Usually everyone in my home agrees that it is a blast on the day of so it is worth it! I totally agree that no matter what, you shouldn’t be spending more than you can afford, and you shouldn’t be making other kids feel bad. I think as long as the focus is right, meaning the focus is on celebrating your child AND on loving on all the kids/families who are coming, they will have a great time. If the focus ever becomes keeping up with the Jones’s or one-upping another parent, you have missed the boat. And Heather…$20 or less? Wow! You are amazing! I like to cook and almost always have a meal, so that wouldn’t be possible in my home. But that is wonderful!! If plan for several months before parties so I do tend to find a lot of stuff on clearance (for favors, decor, etc) so we keep them reasonable in our house. But we also budget for them now! Hubs finally realized when you have an event planner for a wife you just have to accept that entertaining is a priority and you should have a budget for it! 🙂 This spring has been really fun as my 6 year old daughter has started to plan her own bday party…it is still 4 months away. Like mother, like daughter! Happy planning to all!

    • Hi Leaning on Grace! I’m so glad you stopped by. Great comment! And it is nice to meet another Wedding Planner! I stopped for the same reason you did. I bet your parties are great. I’d love to feature one. If you’re interested, send me photos at kristen AT CelebrateEveryDayWithMe DOT com.

  4. Too over the top? No such thing – although I’m happy to see you do seem to have some common sense when it comes to a spending limit 🙂 I think it’s fantastic to do something completely out of the ordinary when it comes to kids parties. But then, I’m not even a parent yet – just the uncle who loves to spoil my neices.