Every now and then, I read an article or a comment on someone’s blog that goes something like this:
What’s up with this new crap about inviting the whole class to the damned birthday party? Birthday parties are getting too big and too expensive. Why should I invite everyone? There are 22 kids in the class. I told my daughter we were only inviting the kids she’s actually friends with. She doesn’t even know half these kids, for chrissakes.
Now, I sympathize. My son has a very hard time with large birthday parties and indeed cannot handle a large one for his own birthday. Sometimes, he opts out of having a party, but we sort of hit the jackpot because his birthday falls on or about Labor Day, which means that we could invite 497 kids to the party and all but 8 would be out of town.
No one wants all those kids storming about the house. Not everyone has room for all those kids. Not every child can handle a large party. I get all this.
Nonetheless, every time I read one of those rants, all I can think is: you must have a child who would be invited to the parties even if the whole class weren’t invited.
Not every kid has a close group of friends, and believe me, the loners know who they are. Some kids move a lot (thank you, btw, to those who invited my kids to their birthday parties the week after we moved here). Some kids have two working parents or a single parent and can’t host a lot of playdates, so they don’t build up those networks. Some kids have abusive parents and come into school too tired, hungry, or dirty to have the energy to make friends. Some kids just lack social skills.
When you don’t invite them to the birthday party, you heap insult upon injury.
So, when we do birthday parties, we include everyone. This works out nicely for Benjamin, who’d be delighted to have most of the zip code at his party. To keep down costs, we have been known to do a co-party with another child. We’ve done recycling parties, where the main activity is playing with trash. Last year, Zach’s party consisted of watching a movie in our basement, eating pizza, and breaking a piñata. All told, only slightly more expensive than a family dinner, and it had the added advantage of the kids sitting still 95% of the time.
While we’re on the subject, what’s up with the “girls” or “boys” birthday parties? Not for nothing, but it seriously screws over the boys who are only friends with girls. I promise, if your daughter is having an American Girl birthday party, my sons will want to be there, doll in hand.
I’d like to give one of my clever little endings to this post, but I’m just too annoyed by this subject to think of one.