It is no secret that in the past couple decades, children’s birthday parties have gotten a bit out of hand. Many parents and adults are interested in getting things back down to an appropriate level and are starting to wonder if bigger is always better or if there isn’t a more scaled-down, age-appropriate approach to celebrating children’s birthdays. One of the primary questions and concerns is about size: how large SHOULD a child’s birthday party be? Particularly, how large should parties for the youngest, pre-school aged children be?
Of course, we want our children to feel special and we definitely want to celebrate birthdays (if that is part of our value system.) The problem arises when we feel pulled into “competition” for bigger and better parties or when we lose sight of what the child enjoys and it becomes more about the party as a big “thing.” We also might feel obligated to invite everyone from the day care or every child that the preschooler knows and this can make for a very big event.
One suggestion for “how big” or “how many guests” is to choose the same number (or double the number) as your child’s age. For example, a three-year-old would have three guests or, possibly six guests. Keep in mind that with preschoolers, this almost always means the parent(s) is/are invited too and, unfortunately, this may mean younger or similar-age siblings tag along. You can see how a smaller number of guests for a toddler or preschooler party might be not only manageable, but preferable.
Preschoolers need more attention and most definitely will need care and tending in ways that older children do not. They may still need help going to the toilet, feeding themselves and there will likely be some major adult interaction to make sure that the children play well together and get along. With a dozen or more preschoolers, this can be an impossible order.
If you feel you really need to include everyone in your child’s day care or preschool class, consider some sort of recognition at school instead of an entirely separate party. Additionally, you are absolutely correct if you are concerned about inviting one or two children from the preschool class and not the entire class to an outside party. Consider arranging a play date at the park or something less structured–you can hand out goodie bags or share in a picnic instead of having an organized (and expensive) traditional birthday party. Preschoolers are so active and have such a short attention span that meeting at the park to play can be a very appropriate activity.
Don’t get pressured into holding a party that is large, lavish and expensive for a young preschooler. Save the more extensive guest lists and grand party ideas for when the child gets a little older and focus on keeping things controllable and age-appropriate for the preschool set.