Monday, July 28, 2008

It Wasn't The Mail. You Weren't Invited.

Recently we attended Toddler's friend's 2nd birthday party. It was UUUUGE. So many people were invited, it was standing room only to eat. Two hours into it, the parents weren't speaking to each other, the gift pile resembled the North Pole and they ran out of BEER.

With Toddler's second birthday fast approaching, that event inspired me to keep it small this year. I only sent out 5 (FIVE!) invitations. I'm hoping he forgives me.

All he really wants for his birthday is to get some new trucks, dip his watermelon in ketchup and have toothpaste for dessert.

This year, his bash will be small and simple.

Being new to the motherhood gig, I can't quite grasp the BIG birthday party phenomena yet. Some will ask why they weren't invited and tsk-tsk our decision. I may or may not blame the mail. Kidding. Sorta. Not.


  • jennwa

    Short and sweet is the way to go.

  • Pann

    Ah, birthday parties! Why do parents go to such huge expense and huge waste and huge largess just to celebrate a two year old birthday?

    Because they can.

    Because some expect it.

    Good for you, to go with SMALL. I have done some big, some small parties. But the sweetest are the little moments and between the little people.

  • Brandt!

    I used to dread birthday parties .. at my son's fourth party when I found the kids hanging off the ceiling fan is when I called it quits!! From then on we did parties outside of the house (McD's).. there you could only invite 6 or 7 friends at the most!! Better yet ... no clean up ..AND the party had an ending time!!

  • Toni

    Ah, keep it small...these young years allow us the freedom to choose without kid input. I always breath a sigh of relief when I learn someone's birthday is small and family only 'cause I hate it when the beer is gone before the cake is...(:

    And toothpaste cakes are going to make me rich, I think!

  • Rima

    Smart woman, you.

  • Rachel

    I have been to too many two year old (ha ha, gratuitous use of the various forms of 'to') and up birthday parties where there are so many people that the present opening can take an hour and there's no sense of fun, at least for me.
    This year we're taking Monkey to the San Antonio Zoo for his 2nd birthday. Neither he nor Princess have ever been to that one and it'll be Monkey's first visit to a zoo. My parents might join us. That's it.
    Big birthday parties are, in my opinion, insane and a waste of money. But that's just me. We didn't grow up with huge parties and i don't see why they're 'necessary'.

  • Tricia

    Good. For. You!!!!

  • Mama Zen

    My daughter turned 5 last month, and we celebrated with our first big extravaganza. My advice? Put it off as long as you can!

  • Nap Warden

    We just had Miss Peach's third birthday...Small=good:)

  • Jenn

    Oh girl I completely understand this - my son is 4, does not understand the BIG parties, and DOES NOT need one - we do a SMALL family party and that's it - with my daughter now 9 - well we have 2 parties, one for friends and one for family - cant do it all in one, because there's sooooo much going on! :) She loves it though, but OMG it's alot of work and ALOT of people!!!

  • david mcmahon

    Oh, tell me this ain't so, Mama Geek - they ran out of beer, at a toddler's birthday party?

    Next time that happens, come over to my place. There's always beer in my fridge, because I don't drink it, I drink water!

    Glad you liked my egg-carton shot!


    I'm so glad mine isn't the only one sucking the toddler toothpaste out of the tube. His b-day is coming up VERY soon. Are you ready (mentally)??

  • Morgan

    Um, I'm not even throwing my kids a party. :) If I did- it would be small, simple, mostly family only. :)

  • flutter

    just have a house full of those flowers and you're good.

  • tommie

    I still don't get the big party thing. We usually do a handful of people. This last year (in June) for my five year old we did the whole preschool class. Thankfully only about ten kids came.....but it was all outside since we did a water theme.

  • Leanne

    Yep, I did both and FINALLY figured out that small was MUCH MUCH better. You're smarter than me if you're doing this at 2 years old.

    Hey, maybe you need a blog with a photo tutorial attached. Those of us still trying to figure out what an 'F stop' is could use some help. Please? Pretty please?

  • CC

    We tend to invite a lot of people. And then have it outside, discourage gifts, and provide nothing but cake. Oh, and I recently made my son give away his own toys to his guests as party favors! Ha! You get something, you give something away!

  • Kate

    Small. Yes. But still, don't run out of beer:)

  • scrappysue

    i can speak from experience having thrown our girls 56 birthday parties over the past 18 years. at 2, it sounds like it was all for the parents! i work on the KISS method (keep it simple .....) 1 1/2 hour party (drop-off at appropriate age, so no extra parents to entertain!) - party food, cake, pass the parcel (tho, at 2 they are too young for this), treasure hunt - with nothing hidden (again, at 2 it has to near about jump and hit them in the face!), open the pressies, then send them home - no loot bags! i went out on a limb with that one a few years back because i refused to put lollies in them, and i figured the whole idea was redundant. best thing i ever did!

  • Mommy Cracked

    I applaud your simplistic approach!

  • Golightly

    Oh. My. Gosh. Southern California and Toddler Birthday Bashes - Ugh!! Harrison has been invited to SO MANY - some like you mentioned - wall-to- wall grown-ups (many single) all expected to bring gifts. For A Two-Year-old!

    Harrison has had two parties [very small- family and old friends only] and one celebration with parents and God-parents only. That was when he turned 3. He was VERY aware of Birthday Parties by the time he turned three and I didn't want to set a precedent that this is what happens every year on one's birthday.

  • JCK

    I think his party will be perfect. A few children, time to chat with parents, low stress, not breaking the budget. Perfect.

  • Rachel

    I like the small, raises no unrealistic expectations, kind of party for my kids, as well!

  • Indrani

    Toothpaste for dessert... I understand. Reminds me of my days when it was brushing time after dinner for my toddlers then.

  • Cecily R

    I agree with you. The whole huge shindig thing is overrated. The only reason we have huge affairs is because we have a huge family. And they all know where we live. :)

  • Alice

    We always start off small, but then you don't want to offend the 3 people at preschool who weren't invited, so you invite them too and it just balloons. It gets better when they get to regular school and you can trim the list without hurt feelings.

  • Irene

    No, three kids and I still refuse to grasp the huge birthday party thing. Now way, no how. It has truly gotten out of control.

  • Anonymous

    Small will be nice. I always over do it. But I love putting on birthday parties and then I never know who I could get away without inviting so I invite them all. Hopefully next year will be smaller - at least w/ E-Man since it isn't the big first birthday and he doesn't really have many friends yet.

  • Hilary

    Birthday parties for younger than school-aged children seem to be more for the parents than the child. I always held small family parties for my kidlets until they went to school. Then there was the "your age plus one" rule for number of invited guests.. and parents were not part of the deal (unless they were a close friend). Good for you for keeping it small.

  • Mental P Mama

    As I recall it, I invited a few cousins to my two-year-olds' birthday. It was probably the best one of them all...

  • Beth (A Mom's Life)

    The smaller the better. I think the parents that have the really big bashes are either really rich or really insecure!

  • Head Gaggler

    Nothing wrong with keeping it Short and Simple. We do that, or attempt to do that as the years go on. They get way over tired with too many people around anyway.

  • Janet

    We did ginormous parties for my first, birthdays, baptism - - let's invite everyone! Now my cheeks turn crimson when I think of it. We are much more subdued, now.

  • Sass E-mum

    Completely agree. I'm inviting a few friends who happen to have small children - instead of lots of children who's parents I barely know.

    Sure it'll get harder to stick to this as the date approaches... but I'm staying strong!

  • Calli

    Small is so much more personal (and easier to prep, clean up and ENJOY). Beautiful flowers, are those queen's lace?

  • DoodleBunz

    I agree with jennwa...short and sweet, and I'll add small.

  • Stephanie

    I think ours will be family only until school and then a few friends. Except for my family being super large. There never seems a good way to do it is there? Sigh...

  • Killlashandra

    I think big birthdays are overrated and way too much work. We had one for W.W.'s first birthday and then totally skipped out on the second. For the 3rd we had a few people over who had kids for him to play with and left it at that. Besides, he was really more interested in the squirt guns then the presents anyway! LOL

  • Alexandria

    Wow. Beer at a toddler's birthday party? Ok, mouth shut.

    I think it's a good idea to keep things small and simple. Do toddlers really remember their birthdays? Seriously? Why spend all that money, know what I mean?

    Dragon didn't have friends to his birthday until he was 3yrs old. We had two kids over. It was fun ... but long. I didn't do it for this 4th birthday.

  • Bren

    So our invitation is lost in the mail, is that it? ;)

    Ya know, we kept it small for the first couple birthdays. The kids don't really care anyway. Mine just wanted a new toy and cake.

    Toothpaste for dessert, huh? He is too cute!

  • lisaschaos

    I always kept parties small with my kids. Hurrah for you for going against today's flow. :)

  • Suzie

    Im with you small parties are the way to go

  • Memarie Lane

    "Big" to me is actually inviting other people. We just go to Chuck E Cheese and sneak in our own cake.

  • Margerie

    Awwwww...the birthday party etiquette book. When is that coming out again? Small is good- less fuss, less muss. The party is supposed to be for the child, not parental ego.

    Of course, we just had 30 kids over for dear daughter's 5th birthday........ forgot about the sibling factor and 12 kids turned into 30!

  • WickedStepMom

    I hate the idea of huge parties for babies and toddlers. They are not going to remember it and it is just an excuse for the parents to get drunk and party like they use to.

    As a side note, my 7 year old will not eat green beans without first dipping them into ketchup. I am soooo glad she has not caught on to the watermelon/ketchup trend!

  • Krystyn

    I'm with you! Keep it simple and fun! It seems like people have big parties for their 2 year olds for status symbols for the parents. And, the kids really need all that crap? I don't think so? I don't want 45 kids to bring gifts to my child's party!


    Tootsie Farklepants did a great post about this a few weeks back on Vintage Thirty. It was great. The big birthday parties are also not something I grasp.


  • Dana

    Good for you. I didn't even throw party for my 2 year old. Sad I know, but he doesn't know. Too many people to have in my small house. And too much work. My oldest 2 birthday's are coming up and I am dreading it. I don't want to do any parties.

  • Amy Y

    If it makes you feel any better... I am often more happy than sad to not be invited because it means one less birthday present to buy! I'm all about the back yard bday party ~ throw the kids back there with a sprinkler and a slip n slide and make a batch of cupcakes and call it good. There is no sense in spending tons of $$ and time planning something that the Toddler will never remember!

  • Jonny's Mommy

    That is why Jonathan's 2-year is just going to be simple, simple, simple. No big birthday parties for such a young kid in my opinion. I mean, it is a big deal, but not to the point of causing knock-down,drag-out fights.

  • Kellan

    My advise is - don't start anything you don't want to have to do year after year!

    Have a good day - Kellan

  • ValleyGirl

    I always feel a little silly, but we've managed to keep the b-day parties relatively small, too. Fortunately, Peanut's kindergarten class only had 7 kids!! We don't have any family close by either, so that makes a huge difference. All the parties she's been invited to have included aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and family friends, whereas ours have so far only been church friends (of which there are few because we attend a very small church) and school friends ~ from a very small school. Personally, I wouldn't have it any other way. Small, inexpensive, focusing on the kid, not the production. It's the way to go.

  • painted maypole

    they say one friend for each year of the child. so by those counts your party is HUGE. ;) I don't get the big party thing either. We've kept it right around 10 kids for the past 2 years, and even those seemed a little big.

  • holly

    i don't even think we *acknowledged* the thrower's second birthday. okay, we threw cake at him and made him open a present or 10 (all, different types of cars).

    okay and we might have taken him to an indoor play place.

    BUT THAT'S IT...

    then we put him down for nap. that's what *he* really wanted. i'm sure of it. i know *i* wanted it...

  • Holly at Tropic of Mom

    My son is sneaking up on two years old, too, and I am really wishing we could get away with NO party at all. He doesn't know that many children his age, he won't remember it anyway, doesn't need more toys, on and on ... but my husband's family would probably insist on some kind of get-together. Sigh....

  • Frani

    Lovely shot. Less truly IS more. Especially at THAT age.

  • Stacy

    Word. I don't understand throwing a huge party for a child that will never remember it. Last year was the first year I had a party for our oldest at 4 years old. We had lizards, a boa constrictor and 12 younguns in our house. It wasn't total chaos but I was so ready for the kids to go home at the end of the two hours. SO VERY READY. Maybe every two years we will do a party...maybe NOT.

  • Missy

    I think that small is perfect. well, for a party it is anyway. ;)
    Emmy's 4th b-day party is this weekend, and she invited her 2 very best friends, along with her grandparents and sister. It will be fabulous.

  • Casdok

    As we know its not the size that counts!

  • Victoria

    Smallish is better. We've given up on all the "big" and did the "no gifts" things for a while now.


  • Momma Bean

    I am a fan of short and sweet too. A gal I know throws a huge party every year, complete with giant slide, bounce house, a train (yes...a train) and cotton candy machine. I just don't get it.

  • Tiaras & Tantrums

    Oh, these birthday parties will drive one insane!!!!!!

  • Jen M.

    I so love that picture. And over the top birthday parties freak me OUT.

  • Elaine A.

    We took 2 friends on a REALLY special train ride when my oldest turned 3. It was the perfect celebration. Smaller is definitely better in my book!

  • Jaina

    There's nothing wrong with small parties. My mom usually has mostly family for the boys, and a couple of their closest friends. Often time just the family of their two best friends (who are brothers) We have plenty of kids around with all our cousins, and we usually rent a bouncer for the backyard, and they love it. You don't have to overdo it, especially at that age.
    PS, left you something on my blog.

  • Jacki

    Emma is four and I only invite adults to her birthday party. It is easier that way. I don't feel bad at all. :-)

  • leigh

    I'm struggling with the whole birthday party thing myself. I have twins turning 3 in just a few weeks and 5 weeks later their big sister turns 5. So far all our parties have been kinda big. I'm ready for something small...but what? Good for you for keeping it small.

  • Lib

    I am momma to four and my first two, well, I had to keep up with the Joneses or rather the Goldsteins. I didn't know any better and my kids bdays were grandiose affairs that really did nothing more than irritate my young bebes (who would rather be playing with their empty boxes and napping) and give credence to the existence of my pretentious (now) ex-husband and in-laws.

    Remarried to a common blue collar worker and two more kiddos later, we settle for quiet family dinners with homemade cake and homemade ice cream. A few presents and viola, everyone is happy and no airs were put on.

    Good for you for being clued in from the get!


    A side note, I am on a Comment Crusade, which has led me to your blog. Lovely. You have an eye for photography and the beauty that is around you. I am happy to have stopped by on my journey. I think I will subscribe to your rss so I don't miss your next shots.

  • melanie

    I think my last comment disappeared into never -never-land. So let's try again:

    I don't think toddlers care much about their parties. Too many peolple causes over-stimulation and melt downs. The toddlers just want to play with the boxes and be done with it. In a few years when he cares you can have bigger parties.

  • Magpie

    simple and small is best. with alcohol and real food for the grown-ups.

  • Anonymous

    I do the same. Actually, it's parents and sibs only till they're four.
    Rock on, mama.

  • Louise

    I don't even believe in big birthday parties. I wouldn't have them at all if it did not teach children social skills, such as how to say "thank you." (I've known children--many, actually--who at twelve years old can't utter a "thank you" because they have never been taught.)

    When I had kids, I thought I wouldn't have parties, but a friend talked me into it for the social aspect, but I limit it to their age +1. They choose the attendees. (I do separate family and friend parties. The friends are where the limit is. Our family doesn't live here so it's just us anyway.) I did not do a party for child #1 until age 3 and child #2 until age 4. The secondn child wasn't jipped, she just didn't care. Why go to the bother? It's supposed to be for them, not us.

    I never understood the parties for one and two-year-olds with 50+ people there. What is the kid learning?

    As for the people not invited? Let them get over it. I would be grateful that I didn't have to find another gift among the masses. My oldest child this year actually chose on her own to skip the friend party and have a family party in a different state. The family had already given her gifts, so she got no more.

    Sorry so long. Just a subject that I have a lot of opinion on.

    From my perspective, YOU ARE DOING THE RIGHT THING!!!

  • Louise

    p.s. LOVE the photo!