If this post makes absolutely no sense to you, kindly disregard. This is just ramblings that I needed to get out of my head.
My oldest turned 11 on the 13th. Usually we spend a ton on her party but this year she wanted it real simple(she usually invites around 30 kids!) She has 4 friends meeting us at the roller skating rink, so between them and our 3, it'll cost us $28 for them to skate for 2 hours. Now. if I would've rented one of their party rooms, it would've been over $100. After skating, we are coming back to our house for cake and ice cream with her friends and relatives will be joining us. I'm making the cake(not nervous about the cake part, I'm making homemade butter cream frosting and decorating it myself) so for the cake(including the price of the pan I got off Ebay, a Wilton frog shape), frosting(have all ingredients already) and of course the ice cream, it will be less than $15. (if it doesn't look hideous, I'll try to post pictures). Add the $28 for skating and her present(a new bike, $75) , her birthday is running about $120. Treat bags are from an eclectic mix of bags, trinkets, and candy(purchased at Walgreens with RR) that we already have on hand. I love having an artsy child, the less things match, the happier she is. Plus, I have several of the small photo albums(that you usually get with prints from Walmart) that after the festivities I'm going to get pics printed off(cheaply, of course) and hand out to the guests later. So, if I add that on her party may total $125.
Ok, I know many moms can do a party cheaper, but believe me, this is cheap for us. We can easily spend that much alone for 1 present. Last year I spent $68 just on swimming. That didn't include the party room, decorations, presents, or food. Baby girl is sort of lucky. I can get her more presents for really cheap because her birthday is 8 days after Christmas. Yes, she had a few plates and cups with snowflakes and trees on them but we spent less than $50 for her entire party and presents. My son will prob get a new bike only for his birthday too.
My husband asked why the change. I said because we have too much stuff. I think the older I get, the less I want cluttering up my life. (I seriously have way too much time to think here lately, lol) Our kids don't mind if they only get 1 or 2 things for Christmas(and there have been several like that). I just decided to make a point to get something they really want. My new way of thinking is something they really want, a couple more small things off their list, and then I always get them a book, an outfit and a new pair of pj's. My oldest already told me what she wants, an American Girl Doll. I can now plan for it and a couple outfits, plus if any relatives ask, I can let them know about the clothes, books, and accessories that go with it.
My favorite gifts for them lately is when relatives just give them gift cards. These are so nice. My older 2 currently(baby girl just has a Walmart card and a McDs) have ones for Walmart, Target, Toys R Us, Barnes and Noble, and McDonald's from Christmas and on Valentine's Day they received ones(with just $5 each) for Sonic, Starbucks(they like the hot chocolate) and more McDonald's.(I requested they do gift cards or money for Easter). I keep them in my wallet and we are out and they say, "Hey mom can I get more paint" or "can I get some fries", I pull out that little piece of plastic and let them get what they want. We were at Walmart yesterday and my oldest asked if she could buy some conditioner(it's not like we don't have a dozen bottles at home, just that none were LAVENDER scented). She had her card(I even had a coupon!) and paid $0.73 for her conditioner. A couple weeks ago, she bought all the materials she needed for her science project(I would've been more than happy to buy what she needed for her experiment, but she wanted to decorate her board really nice) She purchased her seeds, soil, and pots plus material to cover her board($1 a yard) and flowers for accents. My son is a video game nut, so he tends to save all his gift cards to purchase a game he wants(or a candy bar when mom won't pay for it).
Some relatives think the gift card and/or cash seem impersonal and still insist on buying the present. You win some, you lose some, lol.