Friday, May 25, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It: Parent wants to rein in birthday party

Q: I'm struggling with how to celebrate my twins' 5th birthday. They attend preschool and are in separate classes. The norm seems to be to invite everyone in the class, so we invited both classes to a party at a play place. We have 25 RSVPs so far.

This seems tacky to me now. We just wanted a party for them to play with their friends. I'm sure their friends' parents are wondering if they have to buy gifts for both twins. My kids do not need any more toys.

My question is actually twofold: Should I try to rein in this party and somehow request no gifts or a charity donation instead, and how do parents of older twins handle this?

Struggling

A: Yes, spread the word that you're collecting for a charity in lieu of gifts. Check with a local shelter, pick something easy for your guests and use this excess for good.

In the future, buck the "norm." One of my kids' schools recommended the formula of inviting either the whole class or less than half of it — safeguarding, say, one or two kids from finding out in horror that everyone got together without them. I actually think it should be more skewed, to a just a few kids or everybody.

A small gathering (say, one or two friends per kid) is perfectly acceptable, not to mention developmentally apt. So is doing nothing above and beyond, truly. A cake and a movie is plenty. Party culture gets insane fast.

For your own sanity, in fact, for any kid — not just multiples — it can be really helpful to treat birthdays with different intensities over the years. One year, big, okay, but then make another low-key, and another just family, and another friends-focused, and etc. Creating fixed expectations can mess with the response you get — especially when you peg them high, leading to the ever-increasing chance of disappointment. If you instead show a range of ways to show you care, then there's a better chance they'll see and appreciate what you're doing on its own merits.

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