Frugal birthdays

Now that it is February, I thought I would do my public service duty and offer this bit of free advice.  Starting next month until about May 15th, I’m sending out an advisory warning with all the bells and whistles.  Or should I say, without bells and whistles.  For in this time, it is being advised that you refrain from all sexual activity that might lead to reproducing a cute little infant that is born between December and February.  If you don’t heed my warning, you’ll be destined to another gift giving occasion that lands in between the winter gift giving holidays and Valentine’s Day.   

Seriously, if you like buying groceries, you’ll listen to my advice.  So either get it out of the way now, or just wait till June.

And while I’m there, I should probably add that you should be paying attention to which month you’ve conceived any of your children.  Know which month that is?  Good.  You can never have sex in that month again – because nothing will render you broke faster than celebrating two birthdays within the same week with no time of recovery.

I tell you this because no one was kind enough to fill me in on this particular detail of baby planning.  And apparently May seemed to have been a very celebratory month for me, judging by what came 9 months later.  Meaning that I totally grew them out of the ground, Dad.  My kids were born 3 years and 3 days apart, both in the beginning of February – when rent is due, when I’m still trying to come up for air from Christmas, and before any hope of a tax return comes.  So basically, my kids have grown quite accustomed to celebrating their birthday parties (when they get one) in different months from their birthdays, the occasional IOU for the better part of their present when the next paycheck comes, and celebrating both of their birthdays with extended family on the same day.

In truth, I wouldn’t really claim they’re suffering.  It’s still ensured that they’ll both feel special for their personal birthday.  And even if staggered, they’re still just as spoiled as any other kid their age.  But by the time their birthdays are done, I’m left catching my breath after pulling every single string out there to make sure they each have some kind of special meal, they get to do something great on their day, they have something to open, and there is something decadent to blow a candle out on.

Nevertheless, it’s done.  The birthdays are over and each kid is now one year older and a little bit richer thanks to generous family.  And now all that’s left is the birthday with friends. 

Let me just stop to clarify something right here.  There is no rule that a child has to have a birthday party every single year.  Whoever had you believe this was only hoping to make you feel bad when it became too much to handle, or is laughing as you pull out all the stops year after year for a kid who has grown to expect it.  I want to point out that your child has received a dozen or more gifts from you and their grandparents.  And then you are shelling out $100 (often times more) for a party for their friends so they can give them a cheap plastic toy they found at the Dollar Store?  Seriously, why are you killing yourself?  Do they really need a bouncy house, a piñata, a clown that twists balloons, and a bag full of goodies for each guest that will just end up under the seat in the car on their way home – every year? Is the stress induced worry about whether your party was better than little Johnny’s party last weekend really worth it? 

Do you enjoy it?

If so, carry on.  But me, I hate birthday parties.  When the kids were young, I totally fed into the hype.  We annihilated the Funky Monkey.  We abused piñata after piñata.  I planned out game after game as if I were some highly paid preschool teacher that actually liked a room full of screaming kids.  And I’d keep a smile on my face the whole time. And when it was done, I’d lock myself in the bathroom with an eye mask, a bubble bath, a good glass of wine, and strict orders that mommy was on time out.

That’s why I love the older kid birthday parties.  Well, love is a strong word.  But I tolerate them.  Since my kids had “special” birthdays (one is now a teen, one entered double digits), birthday parties were promised to each – one this month, and the other next month.  They can invite two or three friends for a slumber party where we’ll all do one fun, inexpensive activity.  And then they’re left to entertain themselves while I stay nearby to make sure no one starts bleeding.  Soooo much better than blindfolding a kid and having them whack a hollow donkey.

So let’s recap.  How are we to be intentionally frugal for our children’s birthdays?

1.  No sex from March till the middle of May to ensure no holiday money-grubbing children.
2.  Space those kids out.
Note:  If you mess up and don’t follow #1 and #2, lie about their birth dates.  Like any little baby born in February would really know if you change their birthday to July – a much better month to have a birthday.
3. 
Train your kids when they’re young that they don’t need a birthday party every single year.

Any questions?

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3 thoughts on “Frugal birthdays”

  1. Once I entered my teens, I think my birthdays got much more manageable. Rather than every person I went to school with, I would invite only a few select besties and have a fun afternoon event, or (my personal fave) a slumber party with pizza, movies and cake. How could a birthday BE better, especially for a teenage girl? (And I imagine that it was a relief to my parents as well.)

  2. I guess you didn’t learn from me who had the first two kids in December, including you. At least it got me out of doing the huge family Christmas dinner for the first couple of years. But it totally sucked that you girls got all your presents in one month and then had to wait a whole year. And I had to budget money carefully to have the extra dough so you would have a fun, totally separate from Christmas, birthday.

  3. I have 4 kids. One of our/their friends mothers (who also has 4 kids) gave them a BIG party every year. I realized her kids cost ME too much money every year. One year I was so embarrased because all of the guests gave her kid expensive gifts. My gift to the kid was a modest flashlight. He LOVED it! She told me that was his favorite gift. I learned a big lesson that year.Kids do not care about expensive gifts.

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