Kit Kat Birthday CakeI'm not sure about you, but around where I live, kids' birthdays are a big, expensive deal. They now often involve rented-out rooms, fancy invitations, and a whole lot of time, effort, and money.

Don't even get me started on this whole "half-birthday" party thing. What is up with that?

I did the big party once for one of my four children a long time ago, but never again. I've decided that my time, money, and sanity are much too valuable.

Now before you jump down my throat, you should know that I do think birthdays are important and should be celebrated. What I disagree with are the exorbitant bashes for little kids that have started to become the norm.

First of all, the places these parties are held at are expensive. I'm not talking Ritz-Carlton expensive or anything, but at least for me as a mom of four, even a few hundred dollars per child is a lot of money. And really, even if you're having the party at your own house, you still have to buy the food, the cake, and the goody bags, not to mention all the decorations and accoutrements.

But it's not just the money.

What about all those presents these kids are getting? I don't necessarily think they need to get 20 gifts from the other 20 children at the party.

And then there's the whole process of planning and executing the event itself, with the paper invites (really, still?), and the RSVPs -- or lack thereof. It's just a total time-suck and hassle.

So at our house, we've officially ditched the "big party" concept. My kids are greeted with a balloon bouquet at their seat at the table. And they get to choose their favorite meal for dinner, no matter how bizarre or weird it might be (we once had hot dogs and donuts; it was quite a hit).

Of course there are presents from Mom, Dad, and siblings, and there's cake. But it's a grocery store cake -- or even better, a homemade one by a dear friend. Either way, it's not a super expensive fancy concoction in the shape of some sort of animal or television character.

I realize as they get older, they might want to involve school friends, which I'm happy to accommodate for a small sleepover or fun outing.

But I know I can't be the only parent who is completely overwhelmed by the standard that's set these days for kids' birthday parties. I really love celebrating and I'm all for it. I just think more modest birthdays can be just as good, if not better -- with a lot less of the stress.

What do you think about extravagant birthday celebrations?

 

 Image via Janet/Flickr