10 Reasons Planning a Kid’s Birthday Party is More Stressful Than Planning a Wedding

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It’s that time of year again… Elsie’s turning seven, and we’re planning a kid’s birthday party.  Ten years ago I was elbow deep in planning for our wedding, and there are many reasons why planning a kid’s birthday party is more stressful. There are definite similarities… cake, songs, the guests will cry. But kid’s parties do have their own unique challenges, here are just ten.

planning a kid's birthday party

1 Kids have unreasonable expectations

Some time ago I promised Elsie she could have a piñata at her birthday party. Since then she has requested a roller skating disco party, which involves small children doing loops in the dark, with lots of flashy lights and loud music. A few days ago she checked in on the piñata and couldn’t understand why it was a bad idea.

“Everyone’s going to be wearing roller skates, Sweetie. And it’s really dark, so it’s probably not safe, and you’d have trouble finding the sweets. Plus I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t be allowed…”

“But you said I could have a piñata!”

2 You are catering for the fussiest people on the planet

In planning a kid’s birthday party, pizza is the go-to party food because it’s one of the only universally acceptable foods to the under 18s. Unlike grown-up guests at a wedding, kids will not politely smile and eat enough to get them through. They will make it public news that they only like pink lemonade, not the yellow stuff. And make sure your pizza looks as generic as possible, or risk tears over a sprinkle of oregano. 

3 Kids are honest

Prepare yourself for brutal honesty. I’m not sure when the white lie filter kicks in, but I haven’t seen much sign of it yet. Last weekend, we went to a kid’s pool party; and despite living in Arizona, the weather was still a little chilly in early March. On leaving the pool, Elsie shouts with appropriate drama:

“I am soooo cold, I never want to swim again!”

“Where’s the pizza? I’m soooo hungry!”

I assure you my child is not a total brat; she’s just saying the first thing that comes into her head, because she’s six. At least your wedding guests will politely shiver and quietly ask their neighbor when lunch is served.

4 Party bags are very important

I can’t see any wedding guests kicking off about the quality of their party favor. However, be prepared for kids to be scanning the room for those party bags. I have a real issue with buying small plastic bags and filling them with total crap. A pocket sized dinosaur, one of those parachuting men that never work as well as you’d hope, and a whistle that will very quickly and conveniently go missing. It’s a total waste of money and a personal pet hate. I have suggested alternatives such as giving a single small plush toy… something more substantial that might actually have use, and not end up in the trash within a week. 

“But will it come in a bag?”

It seems the bag itself is extremely important. At the recent pool party the hosts gave out a fun airplane craft kit, and sure enough the end third of the box was snuggly squeezed into a multicolored party bag. So give them anything you like, just make sure it comes in a bag or risk public shaming. 

5 Parents don’t RSVP

You may have to chase a few of your wedding guests for a response, but planning a kid’s birthday party is another level. I have tried traditional paper invites, and the more common evite. Both get the same response rate, and it’s not good. Maybe it’s our own fault, we’re sending an abbreviated request in a foreign language. For those that are unclear, R.S.V.P. stands for ‘répondez, s’il vous plaît’ which means ‘please reply’. Many parties, such as the one we are planning next week, is paid for per child attending, therefore knowing how many kids are coming is important. And then there’s those pesky party bags… how many do I need? No-one wants to risk a little one in tears because we’ve run short, so you know you’ll buy extra, and then you’ve got ten annoying whistles to slyly dispose of afterwards.

planning a kid's birthday party giggles

6 Cake is Important

OK, so cake is also important (and extremely expensive if I remember rightly) at a wedding. But for Elsie, it’s the number one most important factor for a party. If you’ve watched Elsie baking chocolate chip cookies or chocolate fudge cake you’ll realize she’s big into cake. We had to leave a couple of parties early last year when the Twins were young, and had major tears because she didn’t get cake. Cake even takes precedent over party bags, and I’m with her, it’s my favorite part of taking her to parties too.

7 Friends change on a daily basis

Hopefully those invited to your wedding are friends for life. Unfortunately, kids are not so loyal, and this can make planning a kid’s birthday party difficult. The easiest thing to do is invite the school class, but what about ballet, swim club and buddies from the park? Numbers can spiral out of control, but if you just invite the besties, things get political. I’ve made the mistake of sneaking a few of the moms at ballet an invite at the request of my daughter. Unfortunately another girl in the class caught wind of this, and proclaimed loudly that Elsie was not invited to her party now. Elsie quickly tried to add to the list in response, to which she was told “It’s too late now.” Yes, the politics of kid’s party invites can almost rival a wedding.

8 Present etiquette is very unclear

Do we open presents at the party or at home afterwards? Most parties I’ve been to open their presents after the party, because kids don’t have the attention span to watch, and some people may feel self-conscious as their deck of Top Trump cards is placed beside that $50 Lego set. Personally, I am less concerned with value (because kids really don’t understand that stuff), and more concerned my present might just get shunned… see point 3 above. Having said this, last year at Elsie’s party, when we started to give out the party bags of crap, one parent expressing their disapproval at our choice not to open the presents at the party. It seems you can’t keep everyone happy.

9 You’re competing with sporting activities

Kids are on a busy schedule. Unlike grown-ups, that mostly like to do as little as possible at the weekend, kid’s weekends are filled with soccer, lacrosse and baseball. Yes, six year-old play lacrosse now. At least a wedding is important enough to override sports practice, but it seems yet another birthday party is not. You might invite 30 kids, but you’ll be lucky to get double figures turning up, because the other 20 are busy working towards their football scholarship.

10 You’ll be planning a kid’s birthday party again next year

Hopefully, you will only ever plan one wedding. However, you are unlikely to be so lucky with planning a kids birthday party. All this faffing about with guest lists and plastic bags of land fill is over with quickly, and you’re left feeling exhausted, relieved, and secretly pleased with leftover pizza and cake. I would suggest not going overboard in the early years, because next year they’re going to expect the same. We waiting until Elsie’s 5th for the official birthday party, and since it’s been expected every year. It seems I’m stuck planning a kid’s birthday party every year from here on out. At least the Twins can share a party… although I was told by a twin once that she was traumatized as a child because she was always expected to share a cake with her sister. One party, two cakes… note to future self. I think by the time the Twins are turning seven I’ll be so done with planning parties,  I’ll just chuck them in the back yard and deliver a slice of pizza in a party bag an hour later. Job done.

planning a kid's birthday party smile

Wish me luck…



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About the author

Katherine is an electrochemist, hiking enthusiast, and family lifestyle blogger. As a mom of three, including twins, she enjoys DIY, travel, and eating good food. British born, Katherine moved to the US in 2014, and now called Las Vegas home.

25 thoughts on “10 Reasons Planning a Kid’s Birthday Party is More Stressful Than Planning a Wedding”

  1. I was just thinking about my son’s next birthday party and what I’m going to do. The ‘friends’ that he had for the last one are out of the picture, so I am stressing out because I want it to be good for him!

    • Yes! The pressure to give them the party of their dreams is stressful! ? in reality I’m sure they’ll be happy with any turn-out 🙂

    • The party I went to last weekend provided gluten free pizza, dairy free cake and gluten free cake as well as the ordinary cake. She’s a better woman than me!! ?

  2. Don’t get me wrong — I’m as crafty as the next girl and I love breaking out the pipe cleaners and exploring my creativity. I’ve just never equated craftiness with maternal love when it comes to birthday parties. My hope is always that my kids enjoy themselves, spend time with family, and feel special. We’re celebrating THEM, not Mama’s brilliant prowess with a glue gun.

  3. I’m so dreading entering the party stage – my son is just about to turn 3 and I’m very conscious that this is probably the last year I’ll get away with not doing one! I definitely think it’s the honesty of kids that raises the pressure – if someone says they’ve not had a good time, or your child loudly says how rubbish a present is! Mind you, cake is very important to me, so I can definitely understand that one! Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  4. It’s the biggest pressure of the year and this year is my first time as a school mum, so even more pressure! The party bags can make or break a party. We’ve been to parties before with no bag and that was embarrassing as you try to get your child leave with them saying loudly, but I’ve not got my party bag! Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  5. Ha ha, all so very true. We made the mistake of giving my a son a party at 1 and have to do one every single year since. He’s 8 next month so we have another one looming. We learnt our mistake next time round and my poor daughter has never had a party. She’ll only be 3 in August so doesn’t really know anything about it. I’m hoping we can hold out till she’s 5 x

  6. I salute you, after my daughters 6th birthday ( she’s now 14) I’ve never done a kids party again. I’m a wimp!!! I know !!! Instead I did days out with her and 1/2 friends which for me was perfect !!! ?.. Same with my middle son and Oscars 2nd birthday in June we are going to see in the night garden live !!
    Although I’m sure he will convince me one day he wants a party and il be heading back here for some advice ..

    • I did consider the day out option as I know I did that a few times as a kid to a theme park or the like. I think I’ll be pushing the idea next year ?

  7. I dread each birthday. So far I’ve got away with it as the kids decide they’d rather have more presents than a party. This year though we are having 2 parties for Zach when he turns 1 but this is more for us as we have lots of family and friends who still haven’t met him! Panic! #sharingthebloglove

  8. This all sounds like a nightmare. Especially the annoying toys that come with the party bags 😉
    I pulled together a birthday party for our NCT group toddlers when they turned 1. That was as difficult as I’m probably comfortable with, but by the sounds of it, everything changes the moment that can talk their opinions at you. Little cuties



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