Would You Skip Your Toddler’s Birthday?

With the economy still in disarray, some families are looking for ways to cut corners. In some cases that means eliminating restaurant meals and scaling back on family activities. For others it means skipping birthdays.

According to some parents, when you have an infant or toddler, who has no concept of major milestones, then celebrating a birthday with a single scoop of ice cream may suffice.

Many parents I know (most who have recently suffered financial set backs) say they only feel “slightly” guilty about the way they’ve had to scale back on their kids’ birthdays. Meanwhile, other moms and dads say they’ve gotten away with downsizing their young children’s birthday to a simple immediate family-only affair and have “no guilt whatsoever.”

After all, what two-year-old is going to shed tears upon hearing that his party isn’t going to include a bouncy house, pony rides or a real clown-—especially when he’s never been to a birthday celebration with anything more than cake and ice cream?

I’m all about marking milestones, but I wonder at times how much of elaborate birthday shindigs are truly designed to delight the children versus being an attempt to impress adult guests. Really, how bad is it to make a birthday party short, sweet, and simple, especially when the birthday boy is more interested in chasing after a single balloon than singing “Happy Birthday” and blowing out the candles. (My daughter didn’t even know how to blow out candles until she was three.)

Personally, I think birthdays are what you make them. Childhood experts agree that the most important part of your child’s big day is that he or she feels special. How you choose to make that happen is up to you. A small, intimate birthday can have just as much meaning, if not more, than a large party full of children, streamers, balloons, and a magician.

Bottom line: Birthdays need not be an extravagant affair in order to make a child feel special.

Would you consider skipping over or at least downsizing your child’s birthday party?

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.