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Thursday, October 10, 2013

So Many Parties, So Little Time

As soon as one’s child begins preschool, a parent can count on receiving a seemingly endless stream of birthday party invitations from classmates.  Over time, I’ve developed some strategies for preventing birthday party overload.

The Gift Box
When my daughter began preschool, it didn’t take me too long to figure out that if she was invited to the parties of eight classmates, and I bought each child a $15 gift, I was venturing into 1. serious math and 2. serious budgetary woes. 

So I created the gift box.
Whenever I was out shopping, I would check the aisles for clearance toys and books (preferably the 50-75% clearance items).  If I timed it right, I could sometimes snag a really great toy for as little as $5.  These purchases would go into a plastic bin in the basement.  To this day, whenever my children are invited to parties, we just “shop” the gift box. 

Birthday Parties as Quality Time
As my family expanded to three children, birthday party invitations actually became something of a welcome excuse for me to get some “alone” time with each child.  My child and I would attend the party where he/she would be able to play with friends, but we would also get to eat cake together, ooh and ahh over gifts together, and play games together.  When I started looking at party invitations in this way, they didn’t seem like chores.

Setting Boundaries

There may be a need to set some birthday party boundaries with one’s child if the onslaught of invitations is too much to bear.  Over time, I’ve developed some qualifying questions to determine whether my children should attend parties, such as “Do you play with the birthday child during recess?” or “Does my child routinely talk about the birthday child at dinner?”  If the answer to these questions is no, then I don’t feel as badly declining the invitation on behalf of my kiddo.  

Contributed by Carrie Vittitoe, parent-writer, Today's Family magazine.


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