Rosie’s birthday and why I’m taking a break from big birthday parties

I am on a big birthday extravaganzas for children hiatus. Forget Pinterest-worthy themed birthday parties, I’m not even having the party! We have reached a new familial low. Or have we? Quite frankly, with four children it was becoming unmanageable to have four big birthday parties a year. (And any party where we invite all of our close family members and friends is going to be big.) I had to clean the house, borrow a large folding table and chairs in order to have enough seating, spend a small fortune on paper plates, cups, napkins, food, drinks, and cake for everyone, and then figure out an activity that is fun for the children but won’t break the bank. And then after everyone leaves,  there is the epic clean up. I’m not saying all this to be whiny, it was a labor of love for sure, and we enjoy seeing all of our loved ones! However, with four little ones at home, doing all of the above four times a year every year was just too overwhelming for us. So Scott and I discussed it, and we decided to take a break from hosting large birthday parties this year.  And it has been liberating. 

For Ruth’s birthday, we travelled to Florida and had an intimate family party with our relatives we were visiting there. Ruth thoroughly enjoyed it. (And we did too).

For Rosie’s birthday this past weekend, we went to a pumpkin patch. And we thoroughly enjoyed that too.  



 Yup, my sister even looks gorgeous while making a silly face.  

RRuth’s grimace fake smile. Oy. 


Please pardon my awkward bangs are growing out stage. I’ve decided they are no longer worth the hassle of finding a babysitter and getting them trimmed every month. 

 Ruth will go anywhere if there is face painting. 

 We live in a weird time. I saw countless families bring their fancy cameras and try to prop up floppy and wobbly babies against pumpkins and just squat there snapping away between dives to keep the baby from face planting.  Has this always been a fixture at pumpkin patches? I even saw a couple bring their dog  and positioned it amongst the pumpkins so that they could take several pictures of it, waving dog treats around to get its attention. I felt very sorry for their Facebook friends who were about to be subjected to a 30+ picture photo album of Fido among the pumpkins. Unless they were doing it as satire. That I wholeheartedly support.  Anyway, fortunately for my Facebook friends, they have to actually click on a blog post to be subjected to endless babies and pumpkins pictures.  You’re welcome, Facebook friends.  I do it because I know if you see one more pumpkin patch picture, you are going to swear off October altogether. As for my beleaguered blog readers, I love you to the moon and back for trudging through yet another pumpkin patch post for me. I have the best readers in the whole world.  

For those of you with big families/lack of time and energy, how do you make birthday parties more manageable?  One friend of  mine said she has everyone bring a dish instead of gifts. That idea sounds intriguing.


32 thoughts on “Rosie’s birthday and why I’m taking a break from big birthday parties

  1. morgan

    Oh my gosh the party issue. No birthday without a proper party. As for the “party with their friends” we allow them to invite as many friends as candles on their birthday cake. For their 3rd birthday we also invited the parents and siblings as well but starting with 4 it’s kids only. Basically it’s cake (some chocolate and gummybear frosted coffee cake in a fancy mold) and then hang out in the garden (age 3) and / or having some simple games. Candy galore and a simple “dinner” like fries or hot dogs. We have themed parties but nothing pin worthy. Ha.
    As for the family parties: madness πŸ˜‰ We often only invite for “coffee & cake” in the afternoons and pray that the weather is nice enough to party in the garden. Over the years we bought a couple of “Bierzeltgarnitur” and I managed to get a huge stash of cheap B-Stock white dessert plates at IKEA and we just use our unmatched coffee mugs (I got this nice china in the basement which I used to whip out for occasions like these but everyone complained that those are not proper mugs and just kept raiding my kitchen so I gave that up!). But getting mismatched china from goodwill or elderly relatives is also pretty popular right now. PLUS we got some mean baking skills in the family and practically everyone brings a cake and after the party everyone helps hauling everything back into the house (and loading the dishwasher), so it’s still madness but not too much extra work.


      I love it! And as many friends as candles on the birthday cake is a good rule! (Sorry it is taking so long to get you those measurements, I will have them for you tomorrow, I promise!

      1. morgan

        don’t stress yourself about those measurements!
        And your new design looks amazing! I first wondered what that fuzz was about, but then I finally managed to snatch our notebook! πŸ™‚
        (all wordpress blogs look exactly the same on my galaxy s3 – black font on white background)


        Thank you for being so patient! Finally went to the store today and got some string so that I can measure their heads. And thank you, it is still a work in progress. Hoping to be able to help Scott out someday with some income on the side, but if it only serves to preserve family memories and connect with my blogging friends, that will be ok by me!

  2. juliaattheritz

    Poor Will- he’s the only (external) child and he’s not getting a party this year. 1. Because I’m not inviting people to my parents’ house. Hello, embarrassing. 2. We don’t really have anyone to invite. Instead we’re taking him to the zoo or the aquarium, weather dependent.

    Since this baby will likely only be a couple of weeks apart from Will’s birthday, I fully plan on joint birthday parties until they’re old enough to protest.

  3. SinΓ©

    Some of the fancy camera and propping babies could be the result of photographer moms, but more than likely it is moms who thought buying a DSLR would make them a good photographer but they have never taken it out of auto (which really just means they have a fancy point and shoot camera that weighs a ton). I may be a bit of a snarky photo snob these days though. πŸ˜‰

    As for birthday parties, we have done a total of 1 crazy blowout birthday party at this point. Otherwise, we have celebrated with friends at our regular Saturday night dinners and then we make their actual birthdays special by letting them have a say in the food and activity of the day. They love their birthdays the way they are and as a totally not pinterest worthy party planner, I love birthdays this way too.

    1. sylcell Post author

      I would LOVE to take a photography class, but otherwise there is no way I am leaving my iPhone camera comfort zone 😬

  4. ReinventingSupermom.WordPress.Com

    We do the party thing, the boys parties are more wearing since they’re 6 weeks apart, but G is half a year away from theirs so it may not be as tiring. We go on simple food, make yourself deli tray, meatballs kind of thing, and honestly I don’t theme or decorate much if its not with toys (we have had Cars, John Deere, and construction themes lol)! The more important thing to me is we take them each out for a night with just them for dinner on their birthday and the boys have each seemed to enjoy that more than anything. We don’t go out often to eat, so it’s an extra treat!

  5. provisionroom

    We have a big birthday party when they turn 1 and when they turn 10. And when they turn 13. Other than that, it’s small family parties or just a special family outing. Works for us. With 9 children we just can’t be having huge pin-worthy parties for every birthday!

    Looks like a fun day in the pumpkin patch!!! πŸ™‚

  6. Chelsi

    So funny you mention the big party issue. Chad and I don’t even have kids and often discuss what all these big birthday parties are about. His friends often have to cancel plans with him because They have to go to a kids birthday party ! He adamantly tells me that he will not be doing that with his kids and he will not be pressured into going to a five-year-old’s birthday party that’s not family. I just laugh bc I don’t get it either

  7. Rachel O

    So we have 5 (soon to be 6 in March). And when my older three were little we came to the same conclusion you and Scott have reached. Planning children’s parties is NOT a personal strength and it stresses me out! Of course it for my babies and I want to make their day special so we do it right?
    So the solution we came up with is this, we don’t do big parties until they are 5. Before that we do low key family parties with treats and gifts. After 5 yrs old we do family parties on even years and friend parties on odd years. I am reliving I may to tweak this because after baby comes I will have 4 of my 6 with even birthdays in a matter of 4 months each time,…..yeah well see how that goes ha ha.
    My big kids are 11, 10 and 9. And the last few years I have offered them a deal on the year they have a friend party. They can either have a party at home and invite lots of friends ( usually 5-8) OR we can take 2 or 3 friends to go someplace like a movie, children’s museuem, bouncy house, trampoline park etc. It been a fun way toake it special without spending a fortune! We are on a very tight budget because I stay home with my babies and my husband works hard as a production manager for a local wholesale art company. So far it has worked well for us. 😊 Good luck finding a solution that fits your family!

  8. Kim Johnston

    Our babies birthdays are 11/22 and 12/3 so until they know better, they’re getting joint Thanksgiving birthday parties. They get a turkey, so….done.
    Even when they are older, I don’t plan on doing something with extended family every year. My parents gave me a birthday party about every 4-5 years and I’m okay with not having family buying gifts every year for the kids. I also get too neurotic and desire perfection too much to have company over for big events. No one enjoys themselves when I’m in OCD mode.

    1. sylcell Post author

      That is a good idea! We’ll probably space them out for years too. And I am the same. lt is very important to me to be a good hostess for all of our guests, and I cannot stand to have a dirty/disorganized house or not enough food and drinks for everyone. But when you are talking about 30+ people, that is an incredible amount of work!

  9. The Champa Tree

    I enjoyed these pictures. As for the big party..I would rather stay away from that, well, atleast for sometime. No point spending so much money on something which my baby wouldn’t remember years later. He needs to enjoy and make some good memories and we have time for that!

  10. Mari Hobgood

    Well done! And yes it was weird how so many People were clearly there for the photo ops

    Sent from my iPod

      1. Boeta: RumblingOcean, Photofun blogs

        Cannot say more or not – do not know, but family and special trips, just as much fun. Tongue in cheek comment, but wonder how much of big parties is about parents and social pressure and how much about the kid. Some really go overboard. If normal is big family and lots of goings on it makes sense…that is normal….but if not…

      2. sylcell Post author

        It’s a good point, though. I mean, my kids aren’t even going to remember these parties other than pictures, and honestly they get very stressed out about all of the people, noise, and constant attention. They are still very young. If the day is for their benefit, then I would rather do something they would really be able to relax and enjoy.

  11. katylady

    Yayyyyyyy, satire! And yay to saying “no” to big parties…too many expectations (mostly my own), too much clean up. I’m already trying to psych myself up for Thanksgiving. Which I’m genuinely excited about! For now.

    1. sylcell Post author

      Yeah, once I feel rested and refreshed, I can get excited about hosting things again. And I really love Thanksgiving! You hosting this year?

  12. rache823

    Seriously though, there were SO many fancy cameras and babies propped! I was trying to figure out what the pictures were going to be for- Facebook really seems not worth the effort.
    Also, so honored to be featured! I’ll start my 15 min timer now.

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