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Confession: I Go Totally Overboard For My Kids’ Birthday Parties

head-shot-BN Bethany Neumeyer

Lately, the opinion on kids’ birthday parties seem to be split between two extremes: On the one end of the spectrum, you have the Pinterest crowd, celebrating every birthday with gourmet desserts and decorations fit for a magazine spread. On the other end, you have the parents who are fed up with over-the-top parties and are begging all of us via impassioned blog posts to just cut it out and to please stop with the treat bags, the long guest lists, and generally making a huge deal out of birthdays.

I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a “Pinterest Mom” (I’ve written multiple blog posts about the toys I’ve made for my kids out of actual garbage,) but I absolutely love birthdays. I love any celebration, really. But since having two kids, my love of birthdays has only increased. Every year, I throw big, themed parties for each of my kids, complete with lots of guests, decorations, games, a personalized birthday shirt for the birthday kid, and goody bags for all of the children in attendance.

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I know big parties aren’t for everyone, and I’d never suggest that someone who hates big parties needs to throw them. I try to make sure not to pass out goody bags with treats in them that would annoy other parents (I’m looking at you, toys that break in five seconds.) I usually stick with serving pizza or hot dogs or some other easy food. But, my parties are big, and I know that I have a tendency to go overboard. Though there’s a widely shared sentiment online that this kind of party is too much, I continue to have big parties for three reasons:

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1. My kids love parties

My primary motivation for throwing big parties is my children. I’m not trying to impress anyone. I’m not secretly hoping that the guests will think I’m a better mother than I am. I just want my children to feel celebrated on their birthdays — to have a magical day that is all about them.

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My son recently asked me if grownups have birthday parties, and I told him that they do sometimes, but not always. At the thought of no longer having birthday parties every year, he looked like his little heart might break. So I quickly assured him that as long as he wants to, we can celebrate his birthday with a party.

Someday his idea of what the perfect birthday is won’t be one spent with his mommy, daddy and baby sister eating food served out of dog food bowls for a puppy-themed party. But until that day, I’ll keep throwing parties my kids love.

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2. I love planning parties

I’m not a particularly organized person (OK, I’m not even a slightly organized person) but there’s something that I absolutely love about planning details for a party. I have so much fun deciding on a theme and then finding decorations, games and food that go along with it. I love scouring Pinterest and party websites to find the perfect touches, making decorations, and assembling treat bags for all of the kids. I love finding things that I know my kids will love and then watching their excited faces when they see it all come together.

There are some parents for whom party planning is just stressful. It’s definitely not for everyone. But if I love to plan them and my children love the results, I see no reason to stop.

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3. They make for happy memories

One of the birthday parties I remember most fondly from my own childhood was when my mom had a fancy tea party for my friends and me to celebrate my ninth birthday. She instructed us to dress up in our fanciest dresses, spread out a table cloth and cloth napkins, then served us tea, fancy sandwiches and cookies on her wedding china. I had never felt so elegant in my life.

My mom doesn’t even remember throwing this particular party for me, but 25 years later it’s still one of my favorite memories.

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Ultimately my kids might not remember the gifts they got or what flavor the cupcakes were. They likely won’t remember what was in the goody bags or whether the plates and napkins matched the party theme (though for the record, they totally did.)

But, I hope they’ll remember the fun and being surrounded by friends and family. I hope they’ll remember feeling loved. I hope they’ll remember that every year, we celebrated how happy we are that they were born into our family.

For more from Bethany Neumeyer visit I Was Promised More NapsFacebook and Instagram.