Birthday party politics

Today is my birthday. Yes, thank you; I know… it’s great!

I spent the day dodging 3 and 4 year-olds at a massive Pump it Up! party in deep Oakland. It was pretty fun and I enjoyed the bouncy houses, obstacle courses, and tall speedy slides as much as any of the wee ones. In fact, since the mini birthday boy shunned his crown, I also grabbed the birthday crown and posed in the throne. But that’s not what I want to talk about… I’m just setting context here.

You see, birthday parties in my son Holden’s preschool have become the “invite the whole class” affairs that I’ve been dreading. Last year, Holden had a cheap birthday party (and it was also small, tasteful, fun!). This year, I don’t know how to manage the birthday party politics.

My questioning started in January (gosh, was that only 2 months ago?!) when one after another, his classmates started turning four and, like clockwork, they’d invite the whole class plus a few bonus friends. But last week, two of the kids accidentally planned a party on the SAME DAY causing all kinds of apologies and chaos. This duo of parties is next week and I’m still not sure if we’ll go to one or both (since they’re both during naptime!).

To avoid creating the same dilemma for our own kids, a mom of Holden’s classmate reached out to me to double check her daughter’s party date: May 10th. She went a step further and offered that we could co-host a joint birthday party.

So, I’m wondering: is it better to co-host a huge party? Throw a huge party on my own? Or stick to my guns with a small party?

I guess I’m leaning toward sharing the joy and cost of the dress-up-princess-superhero themed party with puppet show and face-painting that Lia’s mom is already planning. But I also really hate to raise the bar (and associated expectations and costs) so high.

What do you think, internets? What would you do for your own kids? What would you hope your mama would do for you?