Birthday Party Woes

So, I went to my daughter’s friend’s 6th Birthday party the other day and I find myself puzzled as to why we as parents continually put ourselves through this. Not that I hate birthday parties, but they all seem to operate the same way, and I can’t figure out why we all do it this way. I’ve been to over a dozen such birthday parties – children’s museum, bounce houses, pool party, splash pad, princess party, gym party, pizza party, and I’m sure a few more I can’t remember at the moment.

They all go the same way, a group of parents (usually just the moms and a few dads), most of whom do not know each other, all arrive at the designated party location. Every child present at the party knows the birthday child and usually knows a few of the other children so there’s a general mobbing/following of the birthday child as she plays because every child wants to play with her and they don’t know most of the other children.

The parents stand (or sit, if there happen to be seats) at the edges of the room and watch the kids play, if you’re lucky, you know one of the parents (other than the birthday child’s parents) at the party and you have someone to talk to, but over half of the room doesn’t know any one else at the party so you say hi to the person you happen to be standing next to, carry on a short awkward conversation about where your kid goes to school (I homeschool so my conversation usually ends with the other parent saying something about having a cousin or other distant relative that homeschools). Then you wait for an hour to an hour and a half while the kids play.

After playing the kids enter the party room and are served cake, icecream, and juiceboxes. Sometimes they even get pizza, chicken nuggets, or other snacks. Really nice hosts have over prepared and have enough food for the parents as well (which only half of the parents will eat because you feel awkward eating at a kids party). But, at most parties, the parents just sit (or stand) and watch as their kids eat.

Next, the birthday child opens presents – which are generally all toys, with lots of admonitions from parents telling their kids to back up and give the birthday child space. Your child receives a goody bag (full of candy and other small objects that will soon be lost or destroyed) and you go home.

Now, what I can’t figure out is why we do this to ourselves multiple times a year. First of all, why do we all stand by bored as can be and watch our kids play for over an hour? You’d think someone would have something for the parents to do. Second, why is there never any food for the parents – we’ve been there just as long as the kids and I’m always hungry come cake time. Usually if the host family provides the food there is food for the parents but if the food is catered by the party place then there is only food for the kids, you’d think they would provide something for the parents as well. ┬áThird, why do we always purchase toys for other children – I dread all the toys my children receive on their birthdays, I never have room to fit them all, and yet I always buy toys (and so does everyone else).

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good party, but it just seems like there must be a better way to do kids parties instead of putting ourselves through this over and over.

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