If I could be in charge, I would do away with the big birthday party. When I was a child, I was given one birthday party. In our family, most of us had it when we turned 8, but for some reason (and I really don't know why), my parents threw my party for my 7th birthday. It was a
Today we are expected to throw a huge shin-dig for every single child on every single birthday. The party has to have a theme and cake that matches the theme, all sorts of games. Many parents go all out and rent one of those bouncy things, or they treat the party gang to Chuck E. Cheese or some other place. There is usually pizza and everyone brings lots of presents.
I personally enjoyed having small, intimate family birthdays when I was a kid. Those years I had parties, those were fun, but most of my birthday memories consist of a fun cake (my mom always did fun cakes), blowing out the candles after singing around the table, and presents in Dad's chair. When I was 18, my parents treated me to lunch during the school day, not something they ordinarily did.
I have thrown 2 birthday parties so far with my four children. One was when my oldest turned 3 and then again when he turned 6. That year he turned 3, we had recently moved and I wanted to meet some people in the ward, so I invited anyone who had a boy in the nursery with my son, as well as some other close friends who had children that age. When he turned 4, he went with his Dad to a game place, like Dave and Buster's, but only because Dad had free passes through his work for that very night. When he turned 5, we had family in town, so it was a big affair even though we didn't have an actual party. He was in kindergarten when he turned 6, the first time that he actually had friends to invite, so when he asked for a Star Wars party a few weeks before his birthday, I said yes. It was a fun party, but cost a lot more than we really had to spend, plus was a lot of work. I decided at that time that I didn't want to do a party for every child every year. So this year, when he asked for a party, I told him no. We told him that he could plan games and activities but that it would only be our family for the birthday. He did plan games and activities, but two days before the birthday, starting throwing tantrums because he wasn't having a big party with friends.
So the question is, am I going to face this every year with every child? Should I say that we will have parties for only the big birthdays--8, 12, 16? And the other years it will be just family? Then, if we tell them now that is the plan, perhaps they won't be expecting some big party on the other years and therefore won't throw the tantrums?
What do you do to celebrate your child's birthday?