I lived in financially precarious conditions until my teens, so I grew up saving and being smart about my money decisions. That’s how I became a conscientious shopper, economist and promoter of lean practices on myself and at home. My husband, on the other hand has a different definition for my ideas: closed-fisted, penny-pinching, stingy. And I’m okay with that. Anything that gets the message across to saving money, call me anything you want. In October, the inevitable question came up “would we host a birthday party for little M”?
Hosting a party for one’s kids doesn’t seem to be a big decision for most people, but when I was a kid, I only got celebrated once. On my 6th birthday, my mom made a banana shake and got a small cake for her, my brother and me. I remembered liking the gesture and have fond memories of it.
But this time, it was my kid. She was turning three and after a lot of thinking I decided to toss out my personal policies and threw her a birthday party.
I felt dirty. This went against my beliefs. I guess many of us would differ of what really qualify a Birthday Party to be a waste of money. But in my opinion, all the paper and plastic (biodegradable or not) used to decorate, serve, entertain and in some cases wear, end up in the garbage, and that’s a waste to me.
But this was my kid! The one who has been going to other kids’ parties every second week all summer. The one who was excited to play with balloons and see other kids. The one who was thrilled to see a piñata and collect the candy afterwards. But most importantly this was the one who was so happy and cheery when singing “Happy Birthday” to all of her friends at their parties, and always came home singing it to herself.
Parties make her happy, damn it all. So yes, I threw one for her.
As I went through the plans, my inner economist cringed at the numbers. This was freaking expensive. Picturing little M’s happy face helped me through, but cringe cringe CRINGE.
Due to the lack of hosting space in my Vancouver townhouse, the party place has to be outsourced. But holy cow it is expensive! We landed a great deal: four hours and bouncy castle included, but still. Cringe.
($25 Chicken, $10 Mac n Cheese (Recipe), $40 Steamed Vegetables, Cooking labour $50)
I got a birthday cake from Costco. It will be the last time I do that.
(cutlery, decorations — aka waste)
Party Favours: $105
($2 doilies, $3 paper bags, $3 plastic bags, $2 laundry clips, $3 plastic eyes, $4 pipe cleaners, $4 mini-Ziplocs, chocolate pretzels $20, assorted fl popcorn $20, fruit and crackers $40)
Little M had a great time at her party, I am pleased to say. She loved seeing her friends from the daycare and her weekend friends all gathered in the same room. She was so proud of her moment, this was her own event. She enjoyed addressing her playmates and helping them to interact with each other. I was amazed to see that she was a good little host! (unlike her mama)
While I know I broke my own personal financial rules, I also know one thing: the cost of the party was nothing compared to seeing my kid happy. That moment when everyone in the room sang Happy Birthday to her almost brought me to tears — her face lit up with excitement, her smile widened and her eyes lit up with a bright sparkle. You could tell she had been waiting for this moment for so long.
Any money to make that happen is money well spent.
Are you happy and willing to throw a party for your kids without hesitation? or if like me, does it take you a long time and determination to accept to host one?