Joint Birthday Party with Sibling or Friend

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Two separate parties for birthdays a week apart?

Sept 2009

I have a 3 year old and a newborn baby. The baby was born one week before my toddler turned 3. I was wondering if anyone has been in this situation regarding birthday parties? Family has already begun asking me how we are going to do the 1st and 4th birthday party. What have you done? I feel bad having two parties and then asking friends to attend separate parties. I was thinking maybe people just have one party to celebrate both birthdays, but I can't imagine my upcoming 4 year old wanting to share her birthday. Should each child be able to have their own party, or should I combine them? New to the birthday party scene

Probably at this stage in your kids' lives, shared larger birthday parties with little separate family celebrations -- a cake for each one on his/her special day, little presents from the immediate family on the birthday, some kind of family birthday ritual for each kid -- should suffice. But as they get older... Just let me say that my younger brother and I were two years apart with a nearly shared birthday. My parents made the incorrect assumption that we wouldn't mind sharing parties from age one to twelve. Starting at age five, we did mind. A lot. Your kids may be different, but I would consider their feelings if they express any. It's a bummer to feel that your parents regard you and your sibling as roughly interchangeable units, or as people whose strong feelings don't count. When they get older (late twenties, thirties) they probably won't care anymore! birthday girl

My kids are 10 days apart, and now both in elementary school. They have always had joint parties, so that's all they know. We get them each their own cake, and that helps a lot. (A friend in the same situation said her kids put up with joint parties and separate cake until pre-teen.) And that's all my kids know, and that's all they get and they're happy. I can't imagine a 1 year old cares, and hopefully the older sibling loves the baby and will get it. It's okay, too, to tell a child that what she's asking for is too much work for you/friends/relatives.

Sounds like you're taking some heat from relatives about a party that might not happen for a year. Tell them you have enough on your hands and you don't need to worry about a party that's going to happen next year. Then hand them a diaper or dirty dish and ask them to give you a hand (or tell them the baby needs you and hang up). One Party System

My boys are one day shy of four years apart -- January 28 & 29 -- the youngest is now 4. Here's what we've done so far: definite separate parties for 1st & 5th birthdays, 1st is so special and wanted the older sib to know his was still special, too. We had the little one's party in the evening with OUR friends since he didn't really have any friends of his own yet. The older boy's was a week later, with HIS friends. For 2nd & 6th, we combined them because they said they wanted to. Easy. For 3rd & 7th we had separate ones again: a singing cowboy for the little guy and a bowling party for the big one. Of course they attend each other's parties and I generally invite a friend or two of the other's to be there as well. For 4th & 8th, they wanted them together again so we honored that wish. Long story short: be open to any/all ideas, including your children's. They may just answer this question for you. Trying to let it be as it will...

My 3 and 5 yr old kids also have birthdays one week apart. We have been having a joint birthday party for them since our little one was born, and it has been totally fine. Maybe at some point later on they will care, but right now they expect it and I think enjoy celebrating together. Anon

Having done the double-birthday celebrations for my twins for 16 years I wholeheartedly recommend you make your life easier and combine parties. Each kid invites who they want, each kid has their own cake but everybody gets together for one big gathering, My twins just turned 16 and it's the first time we've had separate parties: my daughter took friends out to dinner in SF and my son took his friends fishing in Monterey Bay. I remember one year when a friend whose b-day was the day before my twins asked if she could have her party with their party -- and the triple party was GREAT fun. Sometimes having combo celebrations takes the stress off for everyone. If your kids get to the point where they're asking for separate occasions, then fine but I think it can actually be a good thing for them to share a party. Fan of Combo Parties

I am sure a birthday party is much more important for a 4 year old than a 1 year old. In fact I think 1 yo bday parties are purely for the parents and family. So...why not have a small family gathering for your 1 year old and a bigger party for the 4 year old? You could probably do this again next year without making a big deal out of it. I would think your youngest will really start to notice and want to acknowledge his/her own bday with a party around 3. And then I'm out of ideas. Anon

Yes, I have this problem and am currently in the middle of it - my children have birthdays a week apart in early September and they are three years apart. I definitely think that they need their own parties, and yes it isn't ideal. However, as they get older, the parties are with their friends and thus become smaller. At age 1 & 4 we had a large combined party for both kids (still at the age of inviting our friends) and a small (6 kidsa) themed party for our older child (on a different weekend). However, until age 4 my younger child didn't need to have a party involving more than an informal family/friends get- together with cake/ice cream. Finally, at age 6 & 9 I have discovered the solution - both parties are at locations other than our house. I'm not saying that it isn't still a lot of work but it cuts down on some of the stress. There is enough that they have to share...they should still get their own special day. anon

The most memorable birthday parties were the ones my parents threw for us together. We are three years apart, but our birthdays are 1 week apart. I will never forget one surprise party with all of our friends. I still remember how shocked and excited we were. Some years we did celebrate them separately, we invited friends our own age. I think it is nice to have them both ways depending on your children's ages and overlapping friends. Some years they may really want to do their own thing. I do think you should throw a few really great parties together, they will never forget how much fun they had. Don't worry about it, whichever way you do it every birthday will be special for each of them. good birthday memories

My youngest was born the day after her big brother turned 4, and his birthday is 3 weeks before his older sister's. It varies from year to year how we handle things. You needn't decided the future of all birthday parties now! I would let your older child have her party first this coming year... she will remember it. Have the celebration of the younger child's first year a bit later (isn't that event usually all about the grown ups actually anyway?). Do people really mind attending parties? I LOVE going to parties! So do my kids! I would maybe say ''your presence is the present'' in the invitation if you are worried about people thinking you are grubbing for stuff. Just my thoughts on it all. Party Girl Mamma

My cousins, brother and sister, were born on the exact same day, 5 years apart. They shared birthday parties, of course. I asked them if they had minded sharing birthdays as kids. To my surprise, they both said they didn't mind it at all. Soooo, I say, go ahead and have a shared birthday party. In the long run, it will probably be a good thing for your 4 year old to have to learn to share everything, including being the center of attention. It's Not All About Meeee!

My husband has a funny story about how his mother celebrated his birthday with his brothers engagement on one cake (she baked a box cake and on one half wrote happy birthday and the other half wrote congratulations on your engagement). I've never been one for combining celebrations. So when our boys were born on the same day - 3 yrs apart I was reminded of my husband's story and reaffirmed my commitment to separte celebrations, even if they were both on the same day! For the boys 4th/1st birtday we had a trains theme (bouncy house rented for older kids and train toys set up in the backyard). We laid out a large blanket and set up the baby area with bouncers and a pak-n-play with baby friendly toys. Each had their own cake - baby's cake was small and my older son had a larger sheet cake. Our event was about 4 hrs - started with older kids coloring their conductor caps; then they were free to play in the bounce house and snack on munchies. I just set up tables with an assortment of snacks. I used those small 5 oz (?) paper cups (those bathroom cups), with cut fruit, cut fresh veggies (sugar peas and bell peppers were a hit), veggie straws (alternative to chips), plates of PB cut into quarter sqares, plate of pigs in a blanket, etc. Afterwards, there was a 30 minute magic show and then we had cake. Then more free play. This year, we planned a deserted island theme for their parties, had toddler party in the am and 5yr old party in the afternoon. We filled the kiddie pool in the backyard for the toddlers where they could splash around, play with water toys, and practice with a fishing net to capture fish that I created from foam (craft store). Then they had cake, (the toddler's favor bag had goldfish crackers and a bath toy); his party lasted about 2 hrs and he napped for about 2.5 hrs afterwards so that allowed me 2.5 hours of undivided attention for my older son. For my five year old and his friends, we had a treasure hunt in the back yard. Each child decorated their goodie bag upon arrival and I planned a few games in addition to the treasure hunt, where they could win prizes from a treasure box, then they had pizza and cake. He had a treasure chest for his cake and the kids left with a lot of ''loot'' so there was no need for a favor bag.

Combine them for sure, especially while they're younger. Be kind to your friends. Talk it up well in advance with your older child, about how exciting it will be to have the big party for two kids, and this might be a nice lesson about sharing for her. You can do two separate cakes (or healthy muffins if you're granola, though I doubt this is a concern), and have the 4yo blow out her own candles. If you get a lot of complaints, your 4yo will be old enough to be told that many adults are too busy to come to two parties and it wouldn't be fair to ask them to do so.

Though, I would take this a step further and have very small, very low-key parties anyway.

You can always re-assess the 1 vs 2 parties as they get older. Keep in mind it's difficult to go backwards. Best to start small and then see where life leads you, rather than give the world up front and establish a standard.

My kids' birthdays are also a week apart. First of all, you don't need to have a birthday party for the younger one when she or he is just 1 or 2. Birthday parties for little kids are just for the enjoyment of the family, so do whatever works for you, which could be no birthday party for the younger, or a mention of the younger one's birthday at the older's, or a family party that happens to also be in honor of the younger's birthday. (I did that once as a ''stealth birthday party''--invited friends over for a barbecue, and then after dinner pulled out a cake and we sang happy birthday. That way no one felt compelled to bring a gift.)

When my younger was turning 3, we started having combined birthday parties, but with separate guest lists and separate cakes. We had the parties at a playground. It worked out well. Many of the guests had siblings, anyway, so it wouldn't have been all one age in attendance even if it was just a party for one of my kids.

At this point (5 and 8, and they are opposite sexes), they are starting to clamor for separate parties, so we may have to give in next year! Don't want to have two birthday parties a week apart

Boy and girl, nearly exactly two years apart?

January 2007

My two children were born nearly exactly two years apart, a boy and a girl. It seems to be the expectation that kids have a party every year -- so, would like to know whether others with two kids with birthdays very close together just throw one party for both? Or does that seem less special? I was thinking of doing one party, until another parent told me that might make each child feel less special. But the last party I threw was exhausting, and my husband was pretty much no help... guess I'm just trying to spare myself some work (and money!) Curious to hear what other parents in my boat have to say. Thanks.
overextended mom

My sister-in-law does a party for all three of her children, since they were all born in the same month. This seems to work great for her kids, especially because then there's a budget for something really extra-fabulous, like a bouncy house, a pony, Menudo live and in person, or a scary clown. Everyone has fun and, as a relative, I'm grateful that I don't have to schlep over to their house three times in the same month for a very similar event. I enjoy the one party as it is.

If you do go this route, though, discourage people from bringing gifts or be sure to open the gifts after the guests have left... This year, my sister-in-law let the three all open their gifts at once and it was:

1) mayhem - a flurry of wrapping paper, ribbons and stuffed animals flying in a blur of shrieks of excitement and general confusion (''Now WHO gave that?'' she'd ask as she frantically tried to make a list for thank you notes).

2) WAY, way, way too long of an event that resulted in over-sugared party guests having to stand around at fidgety attention for far too long (a wave of thinly controlled crankiness rose among the tide, threatening to burst forth from the masses at any moment), and an embarrassment of riches for the children. Why, you ask? Because guests who'd been invited and would have come / qualified as an invitee to one child's party felt obligated to bring a present for all three children. The haul of gifts was unprecedented and next year, I think my sister-in-law is going to request no one bring gifts.

Good luck! party animal

I have two kids two years apart. My second was due on my son's birthday, but she was 8 days early. I do one party with the family. We are very low key. The weekend between their birthdays is the family party. I do not believe that a child needs a birthday party with their friends every year. If you decide you need to do one for each kid, make them more simple. Two years is not that much difference, especially once they get older. You could definitely have friends for each child come to one party. My kids adore each other and would think it's great to have a party together. Last year, I didn't even have the energy to make them both a birthday cake, so we did one big train cake--my daughter loves trains as much as my son. Mom of March Birthdays

Have two parties. Depending on the age of the kids, you might alternate years. Even years is your son's year for a birthday party. Odd Years is your daughter's turn. But definately do a family night out and ackhowledge both children's birthdays but as a private family affaire.

My brother and I are exactly a year and one week apart. My mom gave us a birthday party. Everyone give me presents and not my brother. He was crushed and I was guilty. NO FUN AT ALL.

If your children are old emough you might consider a bowling party and essentially have to separate but distinct parties happening at the same time. Or take a page from bridal showers and have a round the clock party. So your daughter's party starts at 10:00 -12:00. Your son's would begin at 1:00 to 3:00. Tiring but fun Hope this gives you more ideas! Mare

This is coming for a different perspective that you may be used to My father and his older sister (5 years old) share a birthday. To this day he still complains about having to share his birthday and birthday parties with his sister. They did not have the same friends or the same taste in parties, but since she was more vocal and assertive she would always get the party she wanted. Plus she would bully him into telling their mother that he wanted the same party as she did.

So I think as long as your children share the same interests and friends, one party is fine. But once they become older and more individualistic you may want to rethink the two party idea. I do have to say though; I have seen a lot of one party for two kids pulled off great. Good luck! Kenna

My boys are 3 years apart, both born in the summer, one in early May, the other in early August. I'm thinking about combining their parties this year and just throwing a nice big barbecue in June around the summer solstice for both of them.

I figure if we combine the money we'd spend on a smaller celebration for both we can have a really really cool bigger party and be a lot of fun for everyone. There's other ways within the one party to make each kid feel special I think. I'd definitely have two separate sets of candles for them to blow out for instance.

Also, you could still do a very small, cupcake plus special dinner on the kids' actual birthdays where they pick the kind of cake and what's served for dinner that night so they still feel special about their own day, but you're still minimizing the stress of throwing a party twice within a short timespan. Beth

I have 2 boys who are 2 years apart born on the exact same day. It was easier when they were younger. Having one party for a boy and girl seems like it would be easier. Finding neutral groud(entertainment or party place) and being sure that they each have their own friends who have been ivited specifically for them. That way families didn't feel that had to bring 2 gifts. Close friends and relatives always brought something for both. Good Luck trublue

I have a friend with this problem. She alternates. Each year, one child gets to have a ''friend'' party with all the trimmings, and the other one has a family dinner party (the child gets to choose the menu, and Grandma and Grandma come over). The next year, they switch off. Emma

My brother and I have birthdays 1 day appart and have a 3 year age difference. Over the years, my mother sometimes did our parties together and sometimes separately. Both worked. It depended on our ages and interests and how compatible we were at various points in our lives. My feeling is, ask your kids if they'd like to do a party together (and give them a big sell to explain how much better a party they can have if they make that choice so they'll buy in). Or, if they are too young to have that conversation then go ahead and do what you want 'cause they're too young to be bothered by it or notice it's anything but normal. One plus of having birhtdays at the same time is neither kid has to feel jealous when their sibling has a birthday and gets lots of presents. Julie

Birthdays a month apart - 2 parties?

April 2005

My kids birthdays are a month apart. My 3 year old's in April,and my 10 month old baby's is in May.At first I was thinking about combining the birthdays into 1 big party somewhere in the middle between their birthdays. Now I'm thinking that's neither here nor there... I'm thinking have 2 small parties near each of their birthdays. Any thoughts, advice, past experiences would be appreciated. May

I am sure you will get a ton of responses, so I will just say that I think each kid should have their own special day. A month is not too short a time to have 2 parties, esp. if they are small. BTW, for the younger one, it won't matter so much what you actually do on the birthday until maybe the 3rd one. Just take several pictures that show that you had a special party that they can look at later and know they were given the attention. --mom of 2 summer babies

As mom of 2 girls (3 & 5) who have birthdays 6 days apart and a new baby son whose birthday is a month ahead of the first girl, I say have ONE party this year and maybe next, while you can.

From my experience, they definitely hit an age when they want their own theme and friends. For us, that was this year when my oldest turned 5--she was adamant about her Strawberry Shortcake theme, specific games, color of frosting and flavor of cake, and HER friends from preschool attending.

Up until now, we've invited all our friends, whether they have kids or not, and had a big BBQ. We still did that this year, for the 3 year old, but soon, she too will want her own social circle and have her own ideas of how to ''party''! Heidi

The younger child wouldn't care, but I think 3-year-olds are old enough to understand how special birthdays are and they should have a celebration for themselves. It can be very small, but I think there should be a day or party just for them. I vote for 2 small parties. Liz O.

I have two boys, their birthdays are less than one week apart. I give them each their own birthday party, nothing big, but I feel that each should have his own special day. Another idea would be to have birthday parties for each every other year (I have a friend who has twins and a toddler and this is what she does). So this year, have a party for one child, next year it's the other child's turn. Hope this helps. A mom with a similar situation

My kids' birthdays are almost exactly one month apart, and I give them different parties. I kind of enjoy the break in between, because I can only spend one month planning for the second and therefore can't get too caught up in over-planning. They do have different friends and interests, after all. I think it makes it more of a special day for them. Laurel

Definitely have two parties. I have a friend who grew up in a family of 5 kids and she always ''shared'' a birthday party with one of her brothers. She hated it. She said she always wanted her own party. I think all kids want to have their special day. You don't have to make it elaborate. I think people in the Bay Area can go over the top with their super-elaborate birthday parties. I hear of some people spending up to $500 for a birthday party (gasp!). Just keep it simple and special and your kids will love it.

From another perspective (in case you have to do one party for two kids), I have twins and one of the books I've read says that, even if they have the same party, you should have a small cake for each child and sing a birthday song, seperately, for each child. This way, they each get to enjoy some time in the limelight. However, twins are used to being together and are at the same developmental level. A three year old could feel less special already by the presence of his/her new baby sibling. Having him/her share the party with the new baby might be rubbing a sore spot. Hilary

My younger brother and I have birthdays just 8 days apart, and there were four kids in our family. Naturally my mother was inclined to put our festivities together, which as a parent I can understand completely. But I would say -- don't do it. It really hurt my feelings as a kid to have to share a birthday party. That sounds petty, perhaps, but a birthday is a day when the person celebrated wants to feel special, and combining birthdays undermined that for me. Now, I don't know how twins feel about it... birthday girl

Joint party for siblings w/birthday 10 days apart

Jan 2002

I have two kids whose birthdays are 10 days apart. They will be having their birthdays soon and we are thinking of having a joint birthday celebration. Could anyone please give us some advice on how to go about this? I especially am worried about how to send out invitations so that guests won't be obligated to bring two gifts. Most of the guests are close friends and family members who wouldn't mind the double celebration, but how about my elder child's school friends? Thank you. Alice

The idea of a joint birthday party sounds to me like not such a good idea. How do the kids feel about it? A birthday is a day in which the individual gets to be special, and then to spend the rest of the year being a sibling. And separate presents are necessary if they are not the same age (for appropriateness). I'd give more concern for the kids needs than the guests. Josh

One year I rented one of those jumping houses and had a party for one kid in the morning, for the other in the afternoon and invited the neighbor kids in after that. It was a great way to get two parties accomplished in one day and I got my money's worth out of the rental! Mary

I would make up separate sets of invitations, one set for each child to give to their friends and another set for the relatives. That way the parents of the guests will know whose birthday they will be celebrating and the double present situation is avoided. The only problem I see is if the two kids have the same mutual friends they want to invite. I always ask for an RSVP so I can actually talk to the parents ahead of time and most of them call anyway for present suggestions and to find out if they need to stay or can stay if they want to. I would plan on extra time for present opening and candle blowing since there will be two birthday kids. Marianne

Best friends born on the same day

June 2000

A good friend of mine and I are planning to have a double birthday party for our children since their birthdays are the same day, they're friends, and they are in the same preschool class (turning 4 years old!). Some of our party guests know both of the birthday children; other guests only know my daughter or my friend's son. What is a tactful way to explain the double party concept on the invitations? I was taught that any mention of gifts on a party invitation was tacky, yet I want to make sure that guests don't feel awkward about presents nor feel obligated to bring them for both children. Any other advice for how to handle this? Thanks! Sharon

Twins have double birthday parties all the time. My son went to one; he gave presents to each twin because he knew both well. When his birthday comes along he'll invite both twins and I trust their mother to decide what to do about presents. But I wouldn't have hesitated to send one gift if he had only been friends with one of them. Here is my suggestion as a mother: have two types of invitations: one to send to kids who only know one of the birthday people (and say it's for that person's party), and one to send to kids who know both birthday people (and say it's for both people's party). That should take away at least some of the obligations invitees may feel. You can explain to parents who get the solo invitation when they RSVP that it's a joint party just so they're not surprised.

The part I'm most concerned about is the birthday kids: at that age you might consider not making gift opening part of the party, so they don't start comparing presents. Fran

Two children from my daughter's preschool had a double birthday party at Kids in Motion last December. My daughter received a joint invitation since she knew both children. I don't know what was done for those children who only knew one child, but it would make sense to me to send a single invitation to them and explain when they respond that the party is joint with another child. I would also not open presents at the party and save them for later. At Kids in Motion, each child presented their gift(s) to the birthday children as they all sat around in a circle. I thought this was awkward since every child didn't bring a present for both birthday children.