By Heather Keenan

Birthdays are my favorite. I love nothing more than to celebrate myself and to have other people celebrate me. So, it was a no-brainer that when I had kids, they too, would love to celebrate themselves and I would be right there to help them have the best birthdays ever. That means a party, right? Nope, it sure does not mean a party. It means a celebration!

A few years ago I decided I was done with throwing birthday parties for my kids. We do not have much family, and the family that we do have is all far away. Parties were basically the kids that were in my kids’ classes at school, some I knew, some I didn’t, and their parents. Correction: their hungry parents.

We did it all, museums, kid arcades, the park. We threw down. We had pizza, cake, gifts, party bags, entertainment. We were awesome!! We also had a huge bill at the end to cover. I am all for shelling out some cash to celebrate the day my children were born, here is the thing, it was being shelled out on the wrong folks. The people attending those parties didn’t know me and my family any more than I knew them and theirs. They came to my kids’ parties, siblings and empty bellies in tow. They ate and drank and blew through tokens like no other and the next year we had all already forgotten each others names. This just didn’t seem to me like the way to go. Spend the money, sure, but keep it in the family. Mob style, if you will.

I am on year two with no parties. These days, we celebrate family style. We take the kids on a combined trip to a place of their choosing. This year, Great Wolf was up. For two nights of water park fun we spent less than we would have on two birthday parties where we fed people we don’t even know and send them home with a bag full of goodies that will end up in the trash by the end of the weekend. On my kids’ actual birthdays we took them for a day trip to a place of their choosing. One wanted to hit up Chuck E. Cheese. The other decided on the zoo. The third one has now taken in all that these places have to offer and is mentally planing her October birthday.

So, sure parties can be great, and for those with large, close families they are definitely worth it. If you’re in the same boat as we are, with minimal family in the area, then maybe you should try the no party trick. My kids love it! While that may not always be the case, I sure do plan to roll with it while I can!

Party on, party people!