If you are looking to simplify your child's birthday party and save money, consider having a joint birthday party. A joint birthday party is when two or more children whose birthdays are near each other have their party together. Typically, joint parties can be great on the wallet too, if everyone coordinates well! They are usually are held with classmates or other children who have the same friends. This type of party works well for small children because, at this age, you often invite the whole preschool or kindergarten class.
“More parents are starting to have joint birthday parties with other families for their children. This growing trend is the reverse of the “Let’s Outdo the Jones” mentality of a few years ago,” says Jodi Smith, President of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. “Parents are returning to sensible and reasonable parties instead of excessive parties.” It’s a cost-saver, too.
Should you have a joint birthday party?
Smith advises parents to ask themselves if the birthday kids like each other and get along. They don’t need to be best friends, but should enjoy each other’s company and have similar interests. Linda Tedesco says she rarely sees conflicts arise with joint parties. “Children who are friends or close in age usually have similar interests,” says Tedesco, owner of Brick Kids in Lagrangeville. “This removes a lot of stress from party planning parents who worry that their children may not agree on the theme.”
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Another variation on the joint birthday party is to have a sibling joint birthday party if your children’s birthdays are within a few weeks of each other. However, since kids are often more jealous of their siblings than a friend, make sure that both kids are in agreement with a joint celebration.
If jealousy arises, compromises can be made, says Tedesco. “For example, let’s say you are having a joint party with siblings but they are different genders. You can create a party with a general theme. A popular theme we offer is called “architect.” In this party girls and boys can create their own buildings out of Legos. It’s important to customize the party so that it works for both children,” she says. Be sure to point out the benefits of having a joint party, such as throwing the party at a fun location instead of at home or being able to invite more friends because of the reduced costs.
Planning the party together
After you have decided that a joint birthday party is a good option, sit down with the other family and discuss the details. One of the most important topics is the budget. Discuss both the overall budget and budgets for specific items, such as how much to spend on the invitations or the decorations. Smith reminds parents that one family’s idea of a typical birthday cake might be to go to a specialty bakery spend $150 on a cake while another family may usually buy birthday cakes from the grocery store.
The next details to plan are the venue and theme. Smith recommends that joint parties be held at neutral location, such as a bowling alley or park. This helps both families have more equal say in the party and one family is not bearing the majority of the setup/ cleanup work. Make sure that both kids agree and are excited about the theme for the party.
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If you do throw a joint party at a house location, Pat Rose of Pat’s Pals in Warwick says make sure you don’t invite more children than your house can handle. “I’ve often seen parents become overwhelmed. Don’t assume that some children won’t show. They will,” she says.
Another important topic is the invitation list. Families should agree on the mutual friends to invite to the party, such as the entire class or group of neighborhood kids. Oftentimes for joint birthday parties, each child will invite an extra child or two, such as a cousin or neighborhood friend. Smith recommends dividing the costs for the joint invitation list and then each parent contributing on a per child cost for any extra children.
Talk with the other family about the best way to handle presents. If the party is for two children, then it is fine for the guests to give presents to both children. However, if a guest would not have attended one of the child’s parties, they don’t need to bring a gift for the child that they don’t know. If the party is for three or more children, you may want to have guests not give presents at the party. Because of the time involved opening presents and the fact that the children will be receiving different presents, Smith recommends not opening presents at joint birthday parties.
On the day of the party
During the party, be sure to introduce any guests who do not know each other and encourage everyone to mingle. Also, try to have a separate cake for each child. This allows each child to select the cake they want, and gives each a set of candles to blow out. Be sure to sing “Happy Birthday” to both children.
After the party, both families should help with any clean up tasks. Although the money should not be settled during the party, try to settle as quickly as possible after the party. Smith recommends that the parents pay each other with checks instead of cash so that that the money was exchanged and there can be no question about the amount paid.
“I highly recommend having joint birthday parties. It is a wonderful way to celebrate your child’s birthday while watching your budget,” says Smith. Rose, who has been in the party business for over 30 years, also offers this advice: “A birthday party is not a wedding. Keep the planning simple, especially with a joint party. Have a plan, make a budget, but don’t go overboard or stress out. As long as you keep the kids entertained and have crafts and back up activities you will be fine. Have fun.”
Jennifer Gregory is a mom of two kids and three dogs. She held a joint birthday party for her daughter’s first birthday with two other neighbors.