Archive for August 2nd, 2007

10 Tips for How to Survive Birthdays

August 2, 2007

Our son is the youngest in his class. All of his preschool buddies are turning four over the summer months. And so birthday season is in full swing.

Many parents I know (myself included) have overdone it for their kids’ birthdays. I think there are many reasons for this including the fact that so many of us work so much that we want to make the birthday a big deal. Also many parents use their kids’ birthdays as an excuse to have a party for themselves. Even those with the best intentions can end up feeling exhausted and broke once all the guests have gone.

Every year I seem to do less and less for our kids’ birthdays and the kids are just as happy and my husband and I always feel like much better about the whole thing.

Here are some tips for how to have a reasonable, affordable birthday party:

1. Determine your budget — Before you come up with a spiderman theme and invite the whole preschool class figure out how much you want to spend. Once you know how much you have to work with decisions about what to do become easier. If you have $100 perhaps you want to just invite a few kids to the park to have a picnic and blow bubbles. $100 may sound like a lot for a picnic and bubbles but buying groceries and drinks does add up!
2. Pick your audience — You can’t please all of the people all of the time. My feeling is that when kids are young you need to be sensitive about who you invite. I feel that if you invite a lot of kids from your child’s class that you should invite all of them. However, if your budget is tight perhaps you could ask your child to just have one or two friends over for a special dinner. Or you could have a family only party. Just try to avoid inviting the entire class, neighborhood friends and family. Pick one audience to minimize costs and chaos.
3. Have Junior Make the Invitations — Why buy invitations when you have an artist in house? If your child doesn’t want to make them then you could make a collage and then use a color copier or printer to make copies. Getting a homemade invitation sets the tone and feels much warmer than a store bought one.
4. Make Your Own Food — Why order pizza when you can save money and provide something tastier? I’ve found making pasta and a salad satisifies adults while sandwiches, grapes and/or pirate booty does it for the kids. You can use a cookie cutter and cut out interesting sandwich shapes for the kids too.
5. Buy Drinks in Bulk — Juice boxes are expensive and create a lot of trash. By the time kids are four they like to drink from real cups. Get some dixie cups and big bottles of juice at costco.
6. Let the Kids Provide their Own Entertainment — Between seeing their friends outside of school and the promise of getting cake the kids will be very excited. There is no need to provide a Snow White impersonator, a reptile guy or even a bouncer. This stuff gets expensive. If you want to provide activities consider old fashioned games like pin the tail in the donkey or setting up a simple arts and crafts table.
7. Presence not Presents — This one is tough for a lot of people. As your kids get older they start to accumulate so much junk that they really don’t need more stuff. Consider letting parents know that gifts are not needed. Some parents ask guests to bring canned goods for their child to take to a homeless shelter. This can actually be a great thing for a kid to be part of — in our consumer focused world parents need to look for opportunities to teach kids to think of others.
8. Limit on Gift Giving — If you don’t feel comfortable showing up empty handed or with a can of pinto beans then at least set a cap on how much you spend on a kid’s gift ($5-15). Or consider having your child make a coupon for a sleepover or a movie and dinner at your house. 
9. Ditch the Goodie Bags — Goodie bags create a lot of waste. Parents spend money on them and the trinkets of crap end up wedged in the backseats of cars or in the depths of a closet. Why create more waste? Kids shouldn’t expect to get a present when they attend a party.
10. Don’t Buy Your Own Kid a Gift — Explain to your child that the gift from you and your spouse is the party. This presents a good opportunity for a child to learn abou how a family chooses to spend their money. If your kid starts to whine for a particular toy then perhaps you give your kid a choice about getting a party or a present.  

For more about birthdays check out these great web sites:

There’s many more but now I need to work.


It’s Open Season — Birthday Party Season, that is

August 2, 2007

I just wrote a very lengthy post on how to survive being a parent during birthday party season. Unfortunately my 10 tips to creating a simple birthday celebration seems to have been eaten by wordpress. I’ll have to try again tomorrow…it’s midnight and I’m zonked.

July Round-Up

August 2, 2007

Here’s some stuff from July. As I’ve been purportedly studying for the licensing exam, or working on my professional site, or reading some great books — Lady Dough’s been taking up the slack and providing almost all of the inspiration.

Eight random things about us, two for the price of one. Lady Dough. The other guy.

We’ve got termites, and Lady Dough is exterminating credit cards. This thing has really knocked us on our collective ass. There’s no food in the fridge, we’re taking cold showers, the cat is back for a week before we take it back for our other, more pleasant, less task-oriented vacation.

The joy of cheap services. And free lunch. Lady Dough is really challenging the cognitive rule-of-thumb that “expensive is better” and its converse, “cheap is bad.” In the trade, we call these shortcuts “heuristics” and marketers, also known as “compliance professionals” manipulate the hell out of them.

And way back, a post that contains the words “ass” and “nut” in the title. How can you not read that?

August plans to be quiet around here, particularly between the 8th and the 17th. Enjoy.

Search and You Shall Find

August 2, 2007

I love that someone entered this search: “Blue American Express best credit card” and got Lady Dough’s post. Love it. Take that. Hah!