3rd Birthday Extravaganza

My son Joel will be 3 this week so of course I started thinking about how to celebrate months ago. Where did I turn? Pinterest, of course.

I searched 3 year old party and I was stunned. Beautiful Mickey Mouse cakes, full size replica’s of Jake the Neverland pirate’s ship “Bucky” and professionally designed party invitations with moving parts.

For just weeks of planning time, hundreds of dollars, and possibly a piece of my soul as I hand glued googly eyes onto the personalized monster party handouts I was promised a birthday celebration no one could forget.


Pinterest, I rebuke thee.

No, but seriously, pinterest is lying to me. And moms everywhere are lying to themselves. There is no such thing as a birthday party no 3 year old could forget, because no one remembers being 3. Are we really doing these things for the kids? If not are we doing it so we won’t feel judged by the moms who throw themed parties, rent out bouncy places or hire performers? They probably don’t care what you do, they probably only threw that $700 party last month to avoid feeling judged themselves. And if they do care…who cares?

I teach Kindergarten. I have seen kids take beautiful designer cupcakes, lick the frosting a little and declare they don’t like it before chucking it in the garbage. I have seen some of those same kids pick up items squished on the carpet to the point it was no longer recognizable and happily eat them (what Mrs. S? it was an old m&m!).

So how will I be celebrating? Cheaply, stressfree and joyfully

Tonight we will skype some grandparents, tomorrow we are going to visit the set of grandparents who live nearby for dinner.

Tuesday he will take 4 boxes of little debbie “spring” brownies that cost about a buck a box to daycare with him for his friends then he will pick what he wants for dinner and afterward he will have cake with mommy and daddy. (a 1/8th sheet cake from the grocery store decorated with the free celebration decorations, a candle and a new hot wheels car sitting on a sliver of saran wrap).

Our celebration items, cake included, will cost a total of about $15.

His gift costs about $35 (thanks to serious couponing). Yep, I said gift, as in 1 gift, a Buzz Lightyear.

Is my son going to flip his lid and think it was the best birthday ever? I would bet money on it.

Will he remember it when he is 20? no but we are going to enjoy the moment now knowing we are reinforcing our values by not showering him with piles of stuff, minding our budget and not stressing over goody bags other people will throw away 10 minutes after they leave.


Happy Birthday Joely bug 🙂


***DISCLAIMER*** If you have extra discretionary income or just REALLY enjoy throwing parties for kids MORE POWER to You, this isn’t a judgment of you. It is a release of Moms like me from guilt, because for every mom who likes that stuff there are 10 doing it out of obligation. It’s OK not to go big, just enjoy time with your kid while they are still little.






6 thoughts on “3rd Birthday Extravaganza

  1. I’m a 50 year old mom with 2 teens. I agree with you on the whole party thing. Neither one of my children were ever given an extravagant party and the parties they had they loved. We had good old-fashioned home parties. When my children were younger we attended numerous Chuckee Cheese, Build A Bear, Gymboree, Danceree, Skating…you name it. Often times the parents throwing these parties would comment on the expense.
    I once gave my daughter an undersea party using blue and green cray-paper, foil stars and a cheap strobe light, I once made a disco ball with styrofoam and broken cd pieces and repurposed the strobe light, we had a home spa party – doing nails and hair, and even an outdoor Rocky-themed party for my son. All the parties were great fun, my children celebrated with their friends and family.


  2. This was very comforting. We have three children. I’m planning a 7th birthday party for our youngest daughter – who’s super creative and artistic, generous, and sweet, and whom of course, we adore. Was feeling overwhelmed! Thanks for the reality check 🙂


  3. Thank you. i was feeling overwhelmed with my daughters upcoming 4th birthday. After talking with other parents i felt even more overwhelmed. Now after reading your post i feel confident that a pirate party on the beach with a treasure hunt will be a great experience for her and her friends. 🙂


  4. I don’t think I’ve ever heard any mom I know say something like this. Thank you for your beautiful words, I don’t have to go big, and that’s okay :-]


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