Is there such a thing as too many parties for your kids?
School is barely back in session and already the party invitations start appearing. Some are invites from well-known friends, while others are from kids you’ve never even heard your child mention. Birthdays, holidays, back-to-school celebrations, or just hanging out parties are fun social activities for children. They’re also an excellent way for parents to get acquainted to with the parents of their kids’ friends and classmates. Unfortunately, too many parties can also overstretch your time and your budget.
If the party invitations have you overwhelmed, try these ideas to find a good balance, and keep you and your kids happy:
Decide if your child and the one throwing the party are friends or simply acquaintances. Many parents try to include all the classmates when sending out invitations and the kids may not even be close. There's nothing wrong with attending an occasional party of someone your son or daughter doesn't know as well, if it's properly chaperoned and he or she really wants to go. It may actually be a good opportunity for your children to develop a friendship. However, if there are already too many party obligations, it may be wise to start by eliminating the ones that your child doesn’t know well.
Set guidelines with your child about the parties he or she should attend. Discuss any specific rules you may have about the parties you are comfortable with your son or daughter going to, such as if you know the child's family or feel the party has appropriate chaperones present during the event. Other concerns that may help determine if your child should attend may moral or religious preferences. For instance, if your family does not celebrate a holiday for religious reasons, an invitation to a party associated with that holiday can logically be eliminated and politely declined.
Figure out how much money you want or can afford to spend on parties and include it in your budget. One of the reasons parents often don't allow kids to attend parties, especially birthday parties, is because they feel obligated to send a present. While the cost will still be there, you can help ease that issue by planning for that expense and including it in your monthly budget. For example, talk with your child and explain that you will set aside $30 (or whatever amount works for your budget) each month to cover party gifts for whatever parties he or she wants to go to. If she chooses to spend it all on one friend's gift, that will be the only one attended that month. You may be surprised by how resourceful your child can get if she has several friends with birthdays all in the same month!
Encourage your child to keep track of friends’ birthdays and other special events on a calendar. Having advance notice that your child has a friend with an upcoming birthday allows you the chance to shop ahead and use store sales or coupons to your advantage. It also helps keep your family schedule from getting too jumbled and overbooked.
Work together with other parents to lighten the party load. If many of the kids your child plays with are in the same group of friends, try teaming with other parents to have combined parties. Chances are, if your family and wallet are getting stressed from too many parties, some of theirs are too. Planning a combined celebration will eliminate some of those issues and allow all the kids to join the party.