Why I am Saying No To Extravagant Birthday Parties

You know that time you had kids and wanted to give them moon and the stars, and the best birthday party ever? That time you went all out and spent a lot of money in the process? That time you spent hours cleaning, decorating, and preparing food for the party? Well, this year I am taking a stance and saying no to those extravagant birthday parties.

Saying No To Extravagant Birthday Parties | www.decorchick.com

But I am saying it lovingly. So us as parents don’t get bogged down with pressure to do better for the next birthday party.

Now don’t misinterpret this post by any means. I am not bashing anyone at all who throws these lovely parties for their kids.

I do however think with this Pinterest-y world we live in now, that expectations to have the amazing dessert table, the beautiful bar cart with the glass jars and pretty paper straws, exquisite decorations, and hand-made labels sticking out of each appetizer or other food item are all just a little too high.

I know that people have thrown elaborate parties way before Pinterest even existed and that is just their thing. And that’s totally fine!

But what I’m talking about here are us regular moms, just browsing around Pinterest to “be inspired,” and see all of these GORGEOUS parties they have for their very young children. I probably wouldn’t believe you if you told me you didn’t feel like you may need to step it up a little bit for your next party after seeing some of them.

As a blogger, it’s important to do little evaluations of yourself from time to time and find out your WHY. What is your WHY as to why you want to have the most beautiful dessert table ever? Is it to impress people? Is it to have blog content that will get repinned over and over? Or do you just genuinely love throwing elaborate parties and decorating for them? I love redoing things in our home obviously, but the stress of parties gets to me. But I love redoing our home especially since my taste in decor is always changing and evolving, and I just love sharing it with you all. Lucky for me that part of my job just comes naturally. So that’s my WHY.

So why am I saying no to extravagant birthday parties? Because that’s not me. Like I said above, I don’t want the pressure each year of making that year’s birthday party better than the last. It gets expensive y’all. And we are instilling something in our children’s minds and they begin to expect it.

With all that said, that doesn’t mean I haven’t splurged on our kids’ birthday parties. Case in point, the year Foofa came to visit at Emma’s Yo Gabba Gabba 3rd birthday party.

foofa birthday party

Oh yea, see that cake in the background? This giant 5-tiered cake?

Yo Gabba Gabba Cake | www.decorchick.com


It was awesome. And it was delicious too.

Do I regret having that party? Not at all. Emma still talks about that party and loved that Foofa came to visit her! I did want her to have an incredible birthday that year, especially since her little sister was born just a few weeks prior.  So I wanted it to be memorable and special and it was.

The problem though, was that the next year, she wanted Sofia the Princess to come. Or whatever she was into at the moment. It’s kind of like I set the bar a little too high for future birthdays. And with her little baby sister now here born in the same month, I didn’t want her getting used to that!  What if we have another baby? Is one of them going to get the best party ever, then I slack on the rest? There’s just no way I could have kept up with anything extravagant with multiple children.

Last year for Emma’s 4th birthday, we had a Sofia the First birthday.

Sofia the First Party | www.decorchick.com

It really was pretty!

Then for Ellie’s 1st birthday last year, I had a vintagey shabby-chic ballerina party.

Shabby Chic Birthday | www.decorchick.com

I know these aren’t elaborate as some of the others you see, but it’s more than we had growing up! And maybe even more than what’s necessary. I still don’t regret having them by any means, but I want to change some things.

What I am getting at is this.

We aren’t having an extravagant birthday this year. We are having 1 combined party for both of them with a Veggie Tales theme, but Veggie Tales supplies aren’t easy to find, so I went to the Dollar Store and got all this for less than $15.

Dollar Store Birthday Supplies | www.decorchick.com


And I am pretty proud about saving so much money! So Veggie Tales colors will have to do, and luckily my mom is making the Veggie Tales cake, so we will be eating Bob the tomato and Larry the cucumber. :)

I will put out that stuff, get balloons, order $5 pizzas, and call it a day. And the thing is, my kids will still love their birthday party. A birthday should be all about celebrating the birth of that precious person, and not about knocking it out of the park with the decorations and food.

What will we do next year? I don’t know. We will play it by ear. But keeping things simple, having family over, coming in under budget, and not setting kids’ expectations too high sounds about right in my book.

I would love to have a quiet get together with a few of Emma’s friends and have a “fancy” tea party or something, but I can’t do that for an entire birthday. Do you know how hard it is to have 10+ kids at your house? With adults? Hard.

And Emma does like to play dress up, have tea parties, and do those girly things. Making those memories with her doesn’t have to come in the form of an extravagant birthday party or a pretty picture for the www to see.

Saying No To Extravagant Birthday Parties | www.decorchick.com

So where do you fall? In the extravagant party column, or the simple column? No judgment being cast here at all. I’m just talking out loud and sharing past and our future plans.

And, my sweet Emma Kate, is actually 5 TODAY. Happy birthday princess!



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  1. I feel just like you, always have. I’m just not the extravagant birthday party kinda mom. My kids are teenagers now and I think they had one a two big parties and that was it. I have nothing against parents who like to throw the big parties, but it just wasn’t me and my kids always had fun on their birthdays. But I still find my self getting caught up in the rush from time to time. I knew I was losing it, when my daughter wanted to have a few friends over to watch a movie and I immediately went to Pinterest to look at movie night theme parties. LOL My daughter had to tell me that it was just a few friends, not a big deal. So I decided not to make the movie themed cupcakes or find some film strip, etc. I made popcorn and had some candy and the kids had a great time.

  2. Amen to this!! When it came time for my son’s first birthday, I thought about doing a big blowout but ultimately decided against it, mainly because he won’t remember it and at that age their mood can be so unpredictable. We made a cake, served some easy snacks, and had some close family members come over. It worked out really well, and was a LOT less stressful for all of us!

  3. I completely agree. Thus far, we have had all six combined birthday parties for my two kids at the following locations: our house and grandparent’s houses. For their first birthday parties, we did do the decorations up a little more (cute food labels and Cricut decorations), but after that, it was pretty much a few streamers and a couple of helium balloons. Last year for my son’s fourth birthday party we had a tour of the fire station, so we had four little friends come to our house, we walked to the station, walked back, ate pizza and cake, and played in the back yard. And they were very happy! For my daughter’s second this year we had weenies in the crock pot, potato salad, grandparents, an aunt/uncle/cousin and one little friend family. It was great! There are so many cool things to do that are cheap, no-frills and easy that kids love! I make cakes as a hobby, and I can’t imagine either: 1) how many kids you had at the Yo Gabba Gabba party or b) how much cake you had left over after eating a tier or two of that cake!

  4. I had HUGE parties for their 1st birthdays…after that we had Mickey Mouse, Pirates, Superheroes…then a couple years ago I decided to have a costume party for my eldest’s October birthday…and I think we are just sticking with that. I have a million Halloween decorations so we’ll just stick with putting that out every year. My middle guy had a small birthday party last year and it was lovely. He got a special superhero cake from Target and I used left over decorations from our first superhero party. It was so nice and relaxed. We didn’t feed the masses, we had cake and drinks and opened presents. We all LOVED it. My youngest will probably get a pretty big first birthday, but we’ll tone it down from there.

  5. I agree on all points, and have no judgment for those who chose otherwise. Our decision was based on not wanting to set our kids up with the expectation of “bigger and better” all the time and also to not participate in what seems to have become a silly competition among parents. We like to keep it pretty simple and do the bigger parties for milestone years like 5, 10, and 13. But for my son’s 10th birthday we had a “Man vs. Wild” party with a big obstacle race course in the back yard. The kids had to pair up and were timed making their way through a course requiring them to ride an alligator float across the pool, build a small shelter, fetch fresh water, put on a frozen t-shirt, dig gummy worms out of the sand box (bagged in plastic), and swim through a kiddie pool filled with homemade slime. They finished the day by dumping out the slime and having a battle with it (their spontaneous choice). It was very easy and so inexpensive we could afford to invite about 18 kids and their siblings and they were all still talking about it months later. I try to keep it in mind anytime I am tempted to succumb to “Pinterest pressure.” But I absolutely love that so many people with the talent and the gift of hospitality are able to share it with the rest of the world.

  6. Parties are a fun time for me to use some of my talents so I am kind of in the middle as far as simple and extravagant. My parties look kinda big but they are not very expensive. My kids and I spend a lot of time working on things together using mostly things we have and that time is precious to me. The preparation process is probably my favorite part. We are making fantastic memories and strong relationships. I feel like there is nothing better to celebrate in this world than someone you love. Yes there is a point of going overboard and I try really hard not to go there but I do love a good party. As long as you are showing love to that person and they are happy it doesn’t really matter how you “party”. :)

  7. Yay for you! Happy Birthday to your Princess – she is a wonderful reason to celebrate!! . . . . yesterday was my 8 year olds birthday and she had no idea what she wanted. We went to Toys r . . . and she showed us everything she wanted. My hubby took the kids and they went to get frozen yogurt and I bought what we thought was appropriate. The next day we went to the mall for her favorite food – she wanted to build a little pony and then we went to get a makeover . . . anyway before I agreed to the little pony and hair updo we agreed to no party this year. she kept saying “best birthday party ever!” and it was way cheaper and more fun for me and her 3 siblings ;) and yes I was the mom who went all out on every detail for my first 2 children but I got tired . . . . and our 4th seems to have nothing but wonderful memories and feels very loved!

  8. Catherine says:

    We have 4 kids spaced over 6 years. We had small family parties until the kids started school, then for their 6th birthday we did a roller rink, Chucky Cheese, theme park kind of party and invited their entire kindergarten class. For the 10th (double digits), 13th (official teenager), and 16th (sweet) they could arrange a sleepover/bonfire and invite 3 – 6 friends. Other than that, it was strictly family parties.

  9. This is how I felt about my wedding. I wanted a pretty table with mints, nuts, cake and punch. but NOOOoooooo the powers that be demanded more (evil in-laws). I gave up. It wasn’t until later I found out there had a chocolate fountain in one the corners of the little lodge house we had the reception at. It’s probably a good thing- being in a white dress I was unaware, or maybe I did know? and just knew to stay away? LOL But seeing as I don’t have kids yet-not sure I have a valid opinion. I think parties should be simple as it needs to be. I remember getting cupcakes at the skate rink and thinking that was the best thing ever! Or for the short period of time in the mid 80’s the lovely “Show Biz Pizza” Place was the happening venue for gigs like B-Day parties. Obviously skating and pizza don’t work for kids who don’t have teeth or can’t walk. lol I think Pinterest has blown everything out of proportion. If you are crafty and uber creative, that’s one thing, but you still have to factor in time, money and mental sanity.

  10. Way to nip it in the bud, Mama. I got on Etsy last night looking for Woody and Jessie birthday stuff and got overwhelmed. Some of the photos with the products staged looked more extravagant than my wedding. I can’t do that twice per year. Heck, I can’t even get the laundry done! ;)

  11. This is very well written. Kids will love if characters visit, and they will love a “regular” party as long as theirs cake and friends.
    You could always write a letter from their favorite character of the moment saying how they are sorry they missed their special day or something along those lines. Then they can tell all their friends and family Sofia said she’s sorry she missed my party but still wishes me a happy birthday. Best of both worlds! All you need is a glittery sheet of paper and a pretty cursive signature!

  12. Happy Birthday to Emma! I think your children (all children) would be happy with any kind of party but I agree that you could set the too expectations high by continuing to try and outdo yourself from the previous year then it no longer is something fun but stressful. I have a sister who (gasp) isn’t on social media and doesn’t go to pinterest. We have called her Martha for 20+ yrs because she could outdo Martha S any day. The thing is though, she does these things because she just loves doing them. She doesn’t have an online presence nor does she follow anyone online (not even me lol) for people who just love doing it and don’t get stressed over it and can afford to do it without going in debt more power to them. But for people like me who wouldn’t be able to afford to do that we shouldn’t feel stressed out to “keep up with the Jones” in any capacity. Be happy with what you can do. We always had house parties when i was growing up. I didn’t even look forward to the party the thing I loved most was waking up and going down stairs for breakfast and seeing the kitchen decorated with balloons. We rarely got theme parties and occasionally had a party outside of the house i.e. once had my party at a hotel so we could use the pool, to be honest the house parties were always my favorite with just family. P.S. I loved the parties you did last year I thought they were gorgeous!

  13. For my oldest daughter’s 6th birthday (kindergarten) I felt I had to invite every girl in her class to her “bunking” party. I planned lots of pizza and TONS of sugary snacks!. Certainly all 13 of them wouldn’t come….HA! Every single one of them came and I had 14 5 and 6 year olds from 5 p.m. until 11 a.m. the next morning…I am certain at least 5-6 of them NEVER went to sleep. That was 27 years and 3 more kids ago. Fortunately I learned my lesson EARLY in my parenting. Birthday parties can be fun without breaking the bank or your back! Our favorites…family outings to zoos, fun parks, mini-vacations…sometimes we MIGHT take a friend along. Always have a blast and always have great memories! Seriously, which would you rather have…a beautiful “dessert table” or video of everyone playing with baby tigers, monkeys and lemurs!?

  14. My husband used to go all out and pay too much money for my kids to have their birthday at a bouncy house, bowling alley, etc. But this year, I held a backyard birthday party for my tween girls (twins), and they had a blast. The water balloons were the biggest hit — my husband had to run out and buy more!

  15. I have three boys, and only two of them have ever had an “extravagant” party. When #1 turned 4, it was Chuck-E-Cheese (NEVER. AGAIN.). He doesn’t even remember. #2 had a McDonald’s party for his 5th, and I’m sure we will do something away from home for #3’s 5th in September.

    #1 is difficult to do big anyway, because he’s right before Christmas. Kids are on break from school, but parents aren’t. Everyone has spent their cash on Christmas presents, travel and food, and is so burnt out they don’t want to party. I think one year we even waited until mid-January to do his party, just to increase the comers!

    I’ve always shied away from big to-do’s for the kids. I’d much rather have a party at home, where they are able to invite whomever they please, even 10 minutes into the party (yes, this happens alot). Last year we did a HUGE end-of-summer/4th birthday party for #3 at my parent’s house. We had more than 60 people there, but all I did was snacks, a DIY army-cake and beverages. 30+ kids in the pool was all the entertainment we needed. I think he invited every kid at church, and, with cousins, it adds up fast! But it makes me happy to not have to say No on their big day. Between that, and the army cupcakes I sent to school, I might have spent $60.

    Incidentally, I’ve begun offering an option: Have the party at home, or take the cash and run. $60 goes a LONG way at the dollar tree!

  16. I grew up with six siblings. Birthday party costs added up quickly!! My parents alternated years for family-only parties and friend parties. Since my birthday was in August, I often spent the day boating with my friends. I have great memories of both types of parties!

  17. AMEN! I have had a few “big”parties for my kids. But there is no way we can do that every time, I have 3 kids. But they have all had at least 1. I will tell you a really sad story. My son turned 5 so we had his first “friend” party at a local play area. He ended up getting sick and throwing up in the bathroom the whole time. Bummer. So the next year we went all out having a pintrest inspired angry bird party for him. It was insane, but my mom did most of it cause that is “her thing” not mine. LOL! Anyway, only one kid showed. It was horrible. Saddest day ever for me. Watching him wait for his friends was heartbreaking. I kept trying to keep his attention on the activities and not dwell on the small turnout but he kept going outside to wait for them to show up. Now this year I can’t decide what to do for him since he had 2 big parties in a row but both kinda sucked. I guess I need to figure that out…..sigh.

    • That makes my heart break for your little dude. We went bowling a few months ago and there was a little boy there having his birthday party. There were two tables set with place settings and lots of pizza…and only one other friend showed up. That broke my heart too. Here’s hoping this year’s birthday party, whatever it may be, goes off without a hitch.

    • oh my goodness that is heartbreaking and sends me to tears! I have had a party too where no one showed up, and it’s a horrible feeling, even as an adult. I can’t imagine the feeling that would have on a 5 year old :( Hoping his next birthday is better.

  18. I’m not gonna lie, I do LOVE going out for parties! But I go all out by making stuff myself and planning and prepping – all to save money! No etsy ordering for me; if I think I can do it myeslf… I won’t spend money on it.

    Ever since the hubby and I got married I went all out for our “Annual Christmas Cocktail Party” complete with the food name tags, decorations, and everything made from scratch; it was just natural to do the same for the birthdays. I love a theme; not the crazy expense.

    I have 3 kids so I let my oldest daughter’s parties kind of set the bar for all the future parties:
    1st – party at the house (duckie, cupcake, duckie)
    2nd – party at a park (minnie, car)
    3rd – party at the house — renting a bounce house (strawberry shortcake, girlie pirate)
    4th – party at a park (bike party)
    5th – party at the house – (It was candyland themed so I made a bunch of stuff and had a “life size candy land game” upstairs, which the kids loved. But nothing crazy)

  19. Linda Owens says:

    I never had the ways or means to give my children big extravagant birthday parties and I think they are a big waste of money…hard earned money in lots of cases…your child will remember the party and gifts in later years so why stress yourself out….mom always said..”its the thought that counts”

  20. Linda Owens says:

    I forgot…I did give my daughter a special birthday when she turned 16…all her friends surprised her at Olive Garden for dinner….thats as big as I have ever done…

  21. One could look at over the top decorating just the same way. When my son was born and I was going to stop working in order to stay home with the baby, my heart tugged at our financial limits that kept me from going all out on the whole nursery set up. I sewed what I could, borrowed a crib and made do with the rest. Hand me down baby clothes helped out too. I will never forget my husband’s voice of reason, “Let’s save the money and spend it on his room when he will actually remember what it looks like.” That practical approach followed through his life (he is now 30). He got a four year degree and a master’s degree with no college debt(scholarships and jobs). I know he was never sorry or ashamed of his set up. In fact we all three consider ourselves lucky in life. I love to view blogs for eye candy and diy ideas none-the-less and I admire all the talent.

  22. Great Post!
    I am also a mom blogger… But I have to admit I go All out for our kids birthdays. I love making the decorations and seeing their little faces when they see the theme come to life! My kids are ages 2, 4, and 6… I don’t think I’ll continue the huge parties once they’re a little older… It will be easier when they’re 10 and just want to take friends to the movies! But for now… I’m keeping up the big parties!

  23. I threw a big blow out for our son last year when he turned 1. His name is Cooper so we had a super cooper super hero party. It took a long time for us to have him and he’s also probably the last baby to be born until our family’s kids start having kids so we we’re all excited to celebrate! This year we’re having a pizza party at the restaurant with cupcakes and calling it a day. I love a big party but I also love informal get togethers, I hope my kids learn its about spending time and making memories with the people that matter most!

  24. I have to admit it, I am an over the top girl. I have two children, but to qualify it, I make and do all of the decorations myself and hold every party at my house. We make pizzas around our island, have a dance party in the backyard, and whatever games I can recreate from Pinterest. Now that being said, I only do it every other year. Parties can be expensive to do, even though I do it as cheaply as I can, but I don’t think that yearly is feasible for our family. In the odd years we make a memory with that child as a family. It could be a family trip to Legoland, San Diego Zoo, Sea World, or something else. I always score a deal (Legoland in 2 weeks for $83 for a family of 4!) and that child has the fun with the family as a happy birthday memory. It created quite a stir at our school and started a bit of a revolution with some parents. I think they just needed someone to say that it was okay to do something else. Ha ha, I guess I lowered the expectation!

  25. christina says:

    HI, we are pretty low key with our parties. always have them at home, we don’t do a party every year, and sometimes the ‘party’ is only immediately family and grandparents/aunties. that’s it, it can just get a bit much and out of hand and kind of like one person trying to out do the other, I don’t get into that, my third child did not even get a first birthday party, she had a small cake which was decorated with icing and sprinkles by her two sisters. they loved it, and only grandma came for afternoon tea for cake. she did not even get a present lol, she doesn’t need anything being baby number three and wont know or remember. our first baby had a bigger event for her first bday, with more family and some family friends. no kids really. other parties for the three have been with just a couple of friends from preschool. I think it gets too much for them and overwhelming, we have been to friends kids birthdays for when they were one or two etc and over 25 kids there plus adults., each to their own, but I think its not what kids really need or require and it does set the bar of expectations. different strokes for different folks and all that. it does get very pricy, my miss nearly three is not getting a party, just afternoon tea with the family and grandparents. and we will bring a cake to preschool to share at morning tea. I think its enough and she ois happy with that.

  26. Love This!When Thots Of One Of My Childs Birthdays started Causing Me Stress And Anxiety I Realized I Needed Rethink And Stick With Something That Was “Me” And Give Up The Guilt Of Not Doing Something “Pinteresty”!

  27. You are very wise!!!!

  28. Christine says:

    Glad to hear someone else is thinking what I have been thinking. I don’t think a one year old needs a candy “bar”. Even though I could afford it, I decided not to. I do the same thing for Xmas. Santa Claus can’t bring it all! My kids always have a party at our house (pain in the behind sometimes) and they love it because it’s there style, there surroundings and there creativity…and mine!:)

  29. Touche! We had small family parties until the kids went to school. We did the obligatory chucky cheese once for my son and I’m sure we did other things, but I don’t remember them. For my daughter the ones I remember are the 5 friends to the “paint your own ceramic piece” store, and the one where I registered she and her friends for a fund raising walk and they got to walk a mile on a horse track. Their party favors were the t-shirt and other giveaways from the walk. They are grown, living on their own now and I don’t think they are the least bit scarred by the lack of extravagant parties.

  30. Hello, I am just starting out as an event planner http://www.eventsbybrandy.com. I do understand what you are saying about Pinterest. You can find any and every kind of party out there. Some of those parties are so over the top and look so perfect and lets not forget also so very expensive. With that being said I always feel the pressure to make my events bigger and better then the one before.
    I have two children 6 and 3 they both are born in January. I struggle every year about their birthdays. I feel guilty if I don’t throw a party for them because they have one every year not that they ever ask or even expect one.
    However being a party planner I feel like I owe it to them how can I do other people’s parties but not my own children? Then I remind myself why I love party planning so much. It’s because I simply adore it. It makes me so very happy and content to be creative. I also love to make people feel special. To make the party worth their time. They gave me the courtesy to take a few hours of their busy schedule to come celebrate with me. So I feel why not make it a beautiful party. It’s not for everyone and your not a bad mom or dad if you don’t have one. However it is what I love so I will continue to try to throw the perfect child’s party every year.

  31. Nice to see this article. I am currently in “hell week” this week with my daughter’s 6th Birthday on Saturday. I very nearly lost her when she was born, in fact its a miracle she’s alive. So I guess I started out with elaborate Bday’s truly as a celebration to her life. However, now its getting a bit too much for me each and every year. I spent 8+ hours this week on painting a photo booth, painting Peppa and George, and other projects. I’m spent. I feel pressure now each year to out do myself, from family…and well, Pinterest also. Next year I just want a small, simple affair. I feel like I’m loosing the meaning of her Birthday’s for me because they’re overshadowed by all the party hoopla.

  32. Every other year growing up we had a “family party” and every other year we had a “friend party.” I loved them! I would usually get more excited for the “friend parties,” but I still loved the family ones, too, and it made each one more special because it wasn’t the same kind as the year before. Kids do not care about the decorations- especially the lovely, sophisticated, vintage-y ones. They care about cake and presents and blowing out candles! :) I think you have the right idea making sure you remember why you’re doing it.

  33. It’s going to be end of mine day, except before ending I am reading this
    enormous post to increase my knowledge.


  1. […] to write about the girls’ Veggie Tales birthday party we just had, because as I had said in this post about extravagant parties, you know how I feel about those. BUT, their Veggie Tales cakes that my mom made I just have to […]