All In Favor... Say "I"

Hear Me Out: Let’s Just Combine Our Kids’ Birthday Parties & Split The Load In 2024

Experts agree — there are big benefits to moms co-hosting special occasions.

Written by Alexandra Frost

Just days after the holidays rocked our stress levels and budgets, my son's oh-so-convenient New Year's Eve birthday came around again, as it tends to do. Around the same time, his best friend sent an invitation to his birthday party... that would take place just five days after my son's.

They run with the same group of boys from their football team, and in just one quick glance at his mom, we had the same epiphany: Why, oh why, are we doubling the work for parties under a week apart? Why are we inviting the same kids to two separate events, ordering two cakes and two piles of pizza, and hosting when we're already exhausted?

So, this year, ~ we didn't. ~

Half the Stress, Double the Fun

At first, mom guilt started to creep in (though I'd vowed to banish it forever in 2024). Shouldn't I throw my kid his own party? Shouldn't I do this? Shouldn't I do that? Kids are only 9 once, after all! And while that's true, the logic that my kid wouldn't feel as special over a joint party turned out to be total garbage.

The kids were more excited than ever for their double party, and bringing a cake and some favors while the other mom does sides, drinks, and extras feels way more doable for everyone. As a mother of five kids, I'm surprised I didn't think about combining birthdays with friends sooner.

Mom of three, pediatric nurse, and author Jennifer Walker of "Moms on Call" works with parents around physical and mental health in parenting through the site's line of books, online courses, a podcast, and one-on-one consultations.

"When it feels like the invisible load on parents is constantly increasing, the concept of a group birthday party is one that may help to ease that load for both party throwers and party goers," she says. "Who else has spent an entire weekend doing the birthday party shuffle while trying to cram in all of the other activities for multiple kids, oh, and trying to actually spend some time together as a family?"

Walker adds that the number of activities competing for our time on the weekends can leave us feeling exhausted and even more overwhelmed come Sunday night — the opposite of what weekends are supposed to be. "Reducing the number of birthday parties parents need to puzzle piece into their weekends would be a welcome breath of fresh air for all," suggests Walker.

The Etiquette of It All

So, like all moms ready to be done with planning a party, let's get down to logistics. For my own combined party, it seemed to work because we both communicated clearly, agreed to divide the costs and obligations evenly, and considered splitting intangible tasks (such as who would handle RSVPs) in addition to purchases.

JustAnswer etiquette expert August Abbott explains that expectations in communication are essential for pulling this off. "They must be agreeable, and if one doesn't want this or that — they should have an alternative in mind and speak up. The other person must not be annoyed or insulted or set in their ways, but remember that this is only one day out of a lifetime," she says. "Being flexible lends to its success, and being a mule can lead to it breaking down."

Ours went so swimmingly that I'd like to move to monthly combined family birthday parties and friend group parties, too (three friends with February birthdays, looking at you!).

Walker adds that we should put some boundaries and decisions in place, though, recommending the following considerations:

  • How will costs be shared? Will they be split evenly, or will each family pay for certain parts?
  • What will the venue be? This can be a large cost driver, but having the party at a neutral location (as opposed to someone's house) may make things simpler and responsibilities more even.
  • Who is doing what? Detail roles and responsibilities upfront.
  • Beyond the guests in common, how many other guests can each family invite?
  • What's the gift policy for guests? Consider specifying "no gifts, please" (or similar) on the invitation so guests aren't expected to buy 2+ gifts.

Teaching Kids the Value of Togetherness

"You will also want to think through how you explain this to your kids. We recommend presenting it in a very positive way. The great thing about communicating to your children is that you have an enormous power to set atmosphere and perspective," Walker says.

Kids shouldn't feel like their party is a burden in the first place. Mine sure didn't when I explained it would be double the fun.

"The truth is that a shared party can be an opportunity for us to celebrate others, which is such an incredible skill to learn,” adds Walker. “And sharing a celebration with somebody that is your friend is one of the awesome privileges of life."

She recommends saying something like, "I cannot wait to see the ways that you celebrate your friends. We value that in our family."

Continuing, she explains, "It gives them an opportunity to really see the positive and wonderful ways that combined celebrations can be enjoyed, all while experiencing that as a family. The attitude is less about forced sharing and much more about the excitement and value of getting to celebrate the people in our lives — together."