As a blogger, I know I’m in trouble when I have to start a post with a disclaimer. And yet, DISCLAIMER: This is a post about birthday party trends that I don’t love, even though I myself have participated in some of these trends and have very good friends who I respect and love who participated in others.
So yes, there is a certain amount of hypocrisy involved here. And by “a certain amount” I mean “a lot.”
Nevertheless, I’d be happy if I never saw these birthday party trends again:
1. Not opening gifts in front of the guests. I dislike it for the reasons set forth in this post. (And OMG, I would like to propose marriage to some of the comments there.)
2. The “no gifts” policy. I am Old School on this one and think that gifts are part of the child’s birthday fun. (Also, I’m in my 40s and I still love to get gifts.)
3. Parents who bring a gift despite the “no gifts” policy. Although I don’t like the “no gifts” policy, I respect it. But when other parents don’t, it makes the rest of us rule-followers look cheap.
4. The “Make a Donation to Charity X Instead of a Gift.” If your kid is 4, I suspect it wasn’t his idea. And what if I don’t like the charity? Why can’t we make the parents have that rule for their own birthday party?
5. Goody bags for the guests. Whoever came up with this idea has my undying resentment. Maybe I wouldn’t feel this way if it wasn’t always some sort of combination of plastic landfill matter and candy, but I also don’t like the message of “no child leaves empty-handed!” Why isn’t a slice of birthday cake and being with your friends sufficient? Back in my day, we didn’t have this nonsense. ::Adjusts dentures::
6. Parent-written thank you notes. You know the ones. Dear Ernie, Thank you so much for coming to my party! I loved the Lego set! Love, Myrtle. If your kid is under 8, you’re not fooling anyone. We know your kid didn’t write it and chances are that she didn’t dictate it either, so why just not address the letter from yourself?
7. Child-written thank you notes. This is a little controversial because we can all agree that teaching our children to express gratitude is important and is good just manners. But hear me out! I don’t think that writing out “thank you for coming to my party, I really love your gift” twenty times is any more effective at expressing thanks than Bart Simpson writing I will not Xerox my butt (Season 2, by the way) is effective at making sure he won’t do it again. The notes are almost always stilted and forced. (And I know this because my own kids write them under duress. It’s not meaningful for the writer and it’s not meaningful for the recipient. Why are we doing it? (If your response is, “duh, because we’re civilized people” my response is: Open the gift with the gift-giver and thank her then and there.)
8. Inviting the whole class to the party. It’s a rare kid who is friends with every single kid in the class. So why invite them all?
9. Not inviting only one or two kids. If your kid is friends with almost everyone in the class and wants to exclude a few kids, don’t do that. Because it’s not a nice thing to do.
10. Not inviting only one or two kids but telling your child not to talk about the party at school before or after the fact, so that the Uninvited can remain ignorant of their unfortunate status. This has never worked and it will not work in your situation. Even if your child will plead the Fifth in school, you can be sure that one of the invitees will blab.
Do you have any kid birthday party pet peeves? If not, feel free to borrow some of mine! I’m generous like that. You don’t even have to write me a thank you note, although a comment would be nice. (And so would cake.)