Magicians, clowns, petting zoos, bouncy houses, and five-tiered cakes in the shape of man-eating dinosaurs are just some of the ostentatious elements that have become commonplace at kiddie birthday parties. But with the economy in the dumpster and many parents looking for work, parties for kids (from toddlers to teens) have had to be scaled back or eliminated all together.
Childhood experts say that parents shouldn’t mortgage their house to pay for a birthday extravaganza for a three-year-old. Rather, the key to commemorating a milestone is simply making it a meaningful day that your child will have fond memories of.
Here are some tips to ensure that happens:
Focus on your child: You don’t need to convert your yard into a petting zoo or erect a playground in your family room to achieve this. Rather, keep the celebration simple and keep your focus on the birthday boy or girl. Just taking a toddler out for dinner, singing happy birthday, getting a cupcake, having her wear a hat or a tiara, and doling out plenty of hugs, kisses and positive reinforcement will show her that it is her special day.
Create new traditions: With toddlers this could mean telling them the story of the day they were born. Another simple tradition is to take a picture of your child wearing the same hat each birthday. If you keep this tradition going through the teenage years, you will collect an impressive (and hilarious) collection of memorable snapshots, and your birthday boy or girl will treasure the consistency.
It’s not a competition: Don’t get sucked into kiddie birthday competitions between parents. Experts warn that when your party is large just because everyone else has a large party, the party is not about the child anymore; it’s about keeping up with the Joneses. Do what you can within your budget and forget about what everyone else is doing.
The bottom line when it comes to toddler birthdays is that when you make the child the center of the event, he or she will feel special regardless of how big his or her birthday cake is. Experts say parents should not feel pressured to show children they love them with expensive gifts or expensive parties.