Best Buddies Birthdays – Sample Chapter

Chapter 1: Introduction

Are you concerned about:

  • The over-commercialization of your kids’ lives?
  • Bullying and stressful school situations?
  • Excessive competition (not just among kids, but among moms)?
  • Your finances?
  • Being a present and valuable role model for your kids?

This book is for you! 

America is undergoing a cultural, economic and educational shift, and parents hold the power to be the trailblazers. Bling is out, and old-fashioned fun is in. Birthday parties, in a way, are a flashpoint – the symbol of much more than just a party. 

Do children really need over-the-top birthday parties with pony rides, bounce houses, corporate movie characters, food trucks and themed decorations? How about destination parties that require renting nail salons, skating rinks, restaurants and video arcades?  Over-the-top parties just lead to more stress, despite parents’ understandable urge to outsource party planning. 

You have the interest and willingness to tamp down the craziness, but until now you haven’t had a guide to hold your hand. This book is our gift to you: a complete how-to guide to throwing a small, sane yet totally scintillating birthday party for your 5- to 10-year old. 

DIY doesn’t have to be complicated. The time is right for backyard or living room parties full of only close friends (aka Best Buddies) to flourish once again. Our book will enable you to simplify the planning while magnifying the enjoyment, all within a reasonable budget. 

So who are we to hand you this roadmap? One of us is a lifelong elementary school teacher and one of us has two young children growing up in the one-upmanship wilds of Los Angeles, observing the party scene while tracking consumer behavior for her day job at a market research company. 

When memes like #NailedIt start popping up all over, you know that people are desperate for a release valve. (Moms and would-be crafters are posting pictures of their failed baking and decorating creations on Pinterest with the sarcastic hashtag #NailedIt.) Writers like J.J. Keith, in her book Motherhood Smotherhood, are exposing “the cult of effort” that paralyzes moms. Some have expressed a need to escape the pressure coming from the “mom mafia” who compete to outdo each other’s parties.

From the kids’ perspective, child development specialists like Betsy Brown Braun are cautioning against out-of-control birthday parties that spoil rather than celebrate. Books like The Opposite of Spoiled by Ron Lieber are helping parents instill smart money habits in their kids. And educational movements are promoting grit and perseverance rather than rewarding the end result or giving a trophy to everyone.

We see it all around us: You the parents are craving permission to jump off the excessive celebration escalator, just as we see you jumping off the consumption treadmill in other areas of life, such as buying “generics” over brand names, renting or recycling clothes, and making dinner more often than picking up takeout. You’re also concerned about your children’s over-stressed school experience and super-charged afterschool schedules, along with hours of homework, leaving little time for easy-going playing and relaxing. The time is right to simplify.

Our book emphasizes the important life-lessons that children learn through Best Buddies Birthdays, such as:

  • Empathy
  • Hospitality
  • Graciousness
  • Appreciation
  • Good sportsmanship
  • Kindness

Best Buddies Birthdays also tap into young children’s deep-seated need for security and familiarity. As every parent knows, their child will ask to hear the same bedtime story read over and over. What can be more comforting than being in your own home with a few close friends, playing games that children know by heart?

Oftentimes, parties are put on for the adults -- complete with alcohol and alternative menus. They often seem designed more to impress other parents than celebrate the child. Our book encourages you to turn the tide by acknowledging that birthdays should be appropriately child-focused. In fact, we also recommend a return to drop-off parties to remove the pressure to entertain adult guests.

Children will have just as much fun with old-fashioned games, simple activities and cake with ice cream, where everyone feels welcome and successful. No need to provide elaborate meals with all the trimmings. The kids are too excited to eat much anyway.

Birthday parties should be a wonderful experience for the birthday child; recognition that they are special for who they are, not for what they have. When birthday parties become mob celebrations with frenetic commotion and guests the child hardly knows, or drag on for too long without structure or focus on what the kids want, the birthday child can be reduced to tears as tempers are frayed. 

As you’ve reached the end of this chapter, you may be saying, “Yes I like the thought, but I could never pull that off. “ You may feel intimidated or even fearful of being in charge of a house full of young children, even with just a few best buddies. And that’s why we have taken pains to give you a roadmap for “tricks of the trade” that master teachers use to keep young kids engaged and successful.  Each chapter gives you step-by-step instructions from beginning to end. You can do it!

And for those of you who do enjoy putting on more elaborate parties, this book is also for you. Just skip right to Chapter 5 for all the games and activities that will provide hours of fun for children ages 5-10. All the activities in this book have been kid-tested and kid-approved.

We understand that Best Buddies Birthdays will require a little more effort than just outsourcing or hiring a professional entertainer. We acknowledge that it’s tough to feel like the first person to blaze a trail. But our step-by-step directions and tips for success are sure to turn Best Buddies Birthdays into an easy annual tradition for your family in no time. Soon the whole neighborhood will be on board.

Nostalgia, comfort and sanity, here we come. Join the revolution!