Combined Birthday Parties

Combined Birthday Parties

Around here we've got birthdays on the brain. My twin girls turned one earlier this month, and in a few weeks their big brother turns three. Over the weekend we threw a family party for all three kids, because the thought of multiple celebrations within a month seemed excessive (my son will have a kids' party in a few weeks). Later that day, I read a thread on a message board by a mom who wondered about gift giving when attending a party for siblings, which generated a pretty interesting discussion. How do you all feel about combining celebrations?

It seems reasonable to throw a single party for multiples, but by the time they hit kindergarten, many school districts will place them in separate classes as a matter of policy. That means parents may feel compelled to invite two classes and guests might feel the need to bring gifts for a child who they do not know. For multiples there are other concerns, making sure that each child feels recognized as an individual; after our party I realized that we sang "Happy Birthday" twice, once to my son and once to my daughters. Should we have sung it three times? Or once? I am good friends with identical twin sisters, who tell me that their parents always threw combined parties for them but made sure that each girl had a different cake. I baked cupcakes.

With sequentially born siblings, there can be a question of throwing a party that is fun and appropriate for different age groups. For parents of the birthday kids, throwing a combined party can be the easiest path, both logistically and cost-wise, but guest lists can balloon quickly. Unless invitations specify no gifts, parents of guests may feel self-conscious about spending less on each child than they might typically, or resenting the prospect of spending more they would for a single child. (I am not personally bothered by these questions, but gift-giving etiquette was a contentious issue in the online discussion I mentioned before.)

Have you thrown combined parties or do you have plans for one? Have you attended any? Do you think they are a good idea, or do you think that each child should have their own celebration?

(Images: S.R. Shapira)

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