The Birthday Party Social Whirl

Amy Rees
March 8, 2009

Sometimes we get a bit frazzled when the wave of invitations splashes onto our family's calendar, but the truth is that nothing -- repeat, nothing -- is cuter than preschoolers at a birthday party. 

Put kids in this age group around a table with tiny chairs and cupcakes and party hats, and cue the "ahhhs" now.  Bring on the smiles and the tears, both ours and theirs for both, and call it precious.  Because it is.

We've told you before how big, big, big this whole birthday thing is to these wee ones.  And we've given you our best hints for making the happy gathering tread a bit more lightly on our fragile planet

And now we consider again the preschool birthday party.  It's a little microcosm of their social world, all in your own backyard and for only two hours.  (Whew.)  Some of these little ones love the party; others are overwhelmed into either mania or its twin, exhaustion.  But whether you've got yourself a flitting social butterfly or a wide-eyed skirt-clinger (or both, in oscillation throughout the day or the year), the birthday party looms large in these little ones' imaginations. 

And in the imaginations -- dreams? nightmares? delights? confusion? -- of their parents.

So, where do you stand, o Savvy parents? 

How many guests do you invite?  All the kids in the preschool class?  Only a number of guests equal to the age of the birthday boy or girl?

What about just-boys or just-girls preschool parties?

And when you're counting, are you assuming that siblings of your guests are welcome or that they'll be left at home?

When is the first year for drop-off parties, where parents simply bring their little darlings to the party and then collect them at the appointed hour? 

How do you feel about asking guests please not to bring a gift?  Or bringing a book or a tiny present instead?  (The threads on this topic on the Berkeley Parents Network are especially chock full of perspectives.  And for the little siblings just turning 1, we love Activity #237 on nonmaterial gifts from the great Rookie Mom's Handbook.)

Ack!  So much to consider!!  No wonder these little ones sleep so soundly at night -- the life of a social butterfly is tiring!

From the Parents

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