Millions of families in America go overboard on birthday celebrations. Whether it is a toddler’s first birthday or a teenage girl’s 16th; food, entertainment, backyard amenities, choice locations, and extreme party frills push the bottom line for birthdays way over what the thirty year old parent experienced in their youth.
Over-the-top birthday thinking puts pressure on kids of average means to upscale their parties and to worry about whether their gifts are “good enough”. It places guilt on parents about what they do or don't do, where, for how many, and with what extra bells and whistles for the attendees. Overall, it takes a lot of fun out of the event and a lot of money out of our wallets to keep raising the birthday bash bar higher and higher.
Believe it or not, birthdays can be turned on end to be about sharing. If your child has adequate amounts of stuff, maybe TOO MUCH STUFF, and if you have had it with keeping up with the birthday-Joneses, take a different path for the next birthday that emphasizes sharing instead of the traditional focus on getting. Financially healthy adults know how to spend, save and share. With a twist on birthday parties to give young people an opportunity to give as well as receive, we are doing something to teach sharing, and that seems more novel than it should be these days.
Consider these options:
This article is adapted from one written by Megan O’Neil-Haight, The University of Maryland Extension, and originally published in Delmarva Youth Magazine, September/October 2006.