A Three Year Old Birthday Party and Sticking With My Minimum Gift Rule

After much contemplation I decided against a big party for my son’s third birthday. We invited our families to the celebration but chose not to invite any of my son’s friends. I am so happy we took this approach. We don’t see my brother’s children very often and it was great to see my son playing along side his two older cousins without any distractions from other children.

Rather than focusing on a large celebration we spent time baking a cake with my son. He helped measure, add the ingredients, mix and even pour the batter into the pan. Once the cake cooled we let him choose the icing color, (with the help of a little food coloring), and helped him cover the cake with it. He added a few little decorations on top too.

I didn’t stick to the two gift rule, but I wish I had. Last year I only bought one gift for my son and this year I think I could have stuck to that model. One of his favorite presents was a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar that I purchased for $3.99.

I bought four gifts for less than $20. My son loved all the presents I bought, but in retrospect I wish I’d only given him two and saved the other two for some other time.

I chose to buy him one puzzle, one book, one tub toy and one just for fun toy. On the night before his birthday my husband and I also filled my son’s bedroom with a dozen helium balloons. On one hand you can say balloons are a complete waste of money, after all they deflate in a matter of days. On the other hand I can honestly say that the experience of waking up to a room full of balloons was probably more thrilling than any gift my son received.

As always our families purchased an inordinate number of gifts for the little tike. The pile of presents stood at least eight or ten high. Just another reason I should have stuck with only one or two gifts this year. There were so many gifts in our living room that I have absolutely no idea how we’ll handle Christmas two and a half months from now.

I still have a few of the new toys in boxes and I’m hoping I can sneak them down to the basement for a bit and then add them to the toy rotation at some future point in time.

My son seemed to enjoy the festivities. At night we tell stories about the day’s adventures and he seemed most proud that everyone enjoyed the cake he baked. It just goes so show that the experiences of life are much more important than the things.

5 thoughts on “A Three Year Old Birthday Party and Sticking With My Minimum Gift Rule”

  1. His party sounded perfect and it’s so sweet that his favorite part was people enjoying his cake!

    I’d also like to put a good word in for balloons. Our daughter turned two this year and we blew up a couple bags of dollar store balloons in the living room. The kids at her party played with the balloons for a good 30 minutes before we coralled them out to the back yard. This was MONTHS ago and we’re still finding fully inflated balloons hidden through the house!

  2. I love these choices (the 1 gift rule and the family-only gathering). In contrast to some parties for kids who aren’t even aware of what’s going on (50+ invitees for a one year old?), I’d much rather do the smaller get together and next to no gifts. I personally don’t remember any gifts I received before the age of .. 7, probably, except for books that I was able to keep rereading.

    The room full of balloons is a lot of fun for all ages, I’d say! We did that at work once and it was such a hit, the rest of the company kept up the tradition šŸ™‚

    • I hadn’t considered what he might ‘remember’ at this stage of the game, but I’m sure most three year olds don’t remember the gifts they receive. I sure can’t. I do like the idea of creating traditions we can continue as the years progress. Baking and decorating his cake seems like an easy way to experience the big day without spending a lot of money. Balloons is another tradition that is easy enough to continue for many years to come!


Leave a Comment