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Why I’m Not Having a Birthday Party for My 3 Year Old

I’m going rogue. I am not having a birthday party for my toddler this year. Our little man turns 3 at the beginning of May, and we’re not having a party. I just can’t do it.


Reason #1 – He doesn’t care

Our son is at the age where he still doesn’t understand what a birthday party is. He knows he’s currently 2. He knows that soon he will be 3. He’s not yet of the age where he “wants” certain things for his birthday or birthday party. I feel like this may be the last year where I can take advantage of that fact and just do a low-key family celebration instead.

Like most families, we do fun stuff with him all the time. We go to the farm, to the park, we go swimming, we have play dates, we visit the science centre, we sign up for activities at local play centres, we check out drop-in centres and the library on the regular. My husband often jokes that every weekend is like our son’s birthday because every weekend is some kind of funtivity.

Reason #2 – The cost is extraordinary

Invitations, food, drinks (both kid-friendly and adult-friendly), decorations, cake, loot bags, thank you cards … it adds up quickly. Super quickly. I only have a small circle of friends with children, and I still remember dropping quite a few $$ on his party last year. Which was just at our house!

Then there are the entertainment choices. Do we just play around at our house (that was the entertainment for his first 2 birthdays) or do we go somewhere for his party? Or do we bring entertainment to the house? I’ve been to both types of birthday parties. They are fun and exciting, but I just can’t help but think of how much these types of parties cost.

Reason #3 – We don’t need more stuff

Our son is the only grandchild on both sides of the family. He’s also our first, and possibly, our only child. When a holiday comes around, our little guy wants for nothing. It feels like it was just Easter. And before that, it felt like it was just Christmas. I told people at Christmas that our son likes puzzles, then he received 7 puzzles! 7!!!! Help me before I drown in toddler toys.

Our son’s birthday will still be so special. He will still be getting birthday gifts from his family. We will still have cupcakes with a candle on it for him to blow out. We’re also planning a trip to the zoo with 2 friends. I’ve told them that this is just a zoo playdate. Our son loves animals and spending time with his friends and mama and daddy, so for him this is the best day we can plan. He will laugh and giggle and smile and eat ice cream and probably make weird toddler screeches at the gorillas. It’s going to be amazing.

three-fingers-3I know this won’t be something I get away with much in the future, but I kind of like harnessing our toddler’s innocence. He’s so happy just to hang out with us and run around at the zoo while he tells everyone that now he’s 3. No food platter pick-ups, no mid-party meltdowns because he’s dropping his nap, no following up with RSVPs … just the things he loves: friends, family, zoo animals, hugs, kisses, lots of love and practicing making a “3” with his little toddler fingers.

Jennifer Bairos

Jennifer Bairos

Jenn is a teacher, a wife, and mother to one energetic little toddler. She and her family live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


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  • Totally with you. For my older, we managed not to have one until I think 4. Doing the same with the younger. Even then we always keep it as small as possible – in the house, ask for either donations to a charity (some years, if I can convince him) or only small gifts. (He got more savvy as he got older and did wonder why we bring gifts to other parties but people weren’t bringing them to ours.) Even keeping various limits, the parties somehow feel out of hand still. I think b/c all the parents & siblings come…

  • Agreed and good for you. I remember people being surprised I didn’t do a birthday for my twins first two bdays. I was assuming I’d have to give in by year 3, but maybe not. As you say, they don’t know and they don’t need more stuff. Their birthdays are also near Christmas so they’ll be getting gifts and having a party then too.

  • I feel the same, we have done something small, just the 3 of us for Oliver’s birthdays so far (he’s only 2), he has no idea what’s going on or what Birthday even means. There are some very overboard parties out there for babies and toddlers – someone I follow even had a PHOTO BOOTH! at her 1 year old’s party recently. I just don’t get it. At all. Oliver is a December baby along with his Daddy, his Aunty (on Daddy’s side) and a cousin (also on daddy’s side), so we tend to have a little family gathering, but his Aunty is 18 and his cousin is 8.

  • I am THAT mom – totally go over board and I love it. I love having friends and family come to our house for a meal, visiting and a giant play date. I respect your decision and totally understand not needing or wanting TONS of gifts too. THat is a huge downfall of the parties.

  • Ladies!! Thank you all so so much for all of the comments. It’s been so fun to read what you all do with your little ones as well. Cheers to loving our littles so hard on their birthdays, party or not! xoxox

  • I think that is perfectly fine and your choice. Some years back during my separation from my husband I didn’t want to do any of the holidays. Family members tried to pressure me into it, but at the time I really wasn’t in the mood. My son had a project the other day asking what he did on his Birthday from age 1 to 9, I didn’t remember. I asked him if he remembered, he said no. We went running to the picture box, that is how we knew what happened lol

  • I 100% agree with all your reasons! We’ve never been big on birthday party but when my 2nd daughter was born in the same month as her big sister, I knew we were never going to be big birthdays every year for every child people. Now with 4 birthdays to manage (all within 4 months), I’m sticking to my original thought: they will each get a friend party every third year (3, 6, 9, etc.) which will leave me with no more than 2 parties in one year and their non-party years we will do something fun with whatever family happens to be around.

  • I SO get it! I have 4 kids and the parties can get crazy! What they now remember most is that on their birthday, I would bake them a special cake and make their favorite dinner and we would do something just for them with the family!!!

  • I completely understand skipping this birthday! Sometimes we get so caught up in the celebration for the wrong reasons. Whether it’s to impress family or friends or we obligated, it’s often too much for little kiddos anyway!

  • I don’t blame you at all. There will be plenty of time for birthday parties when he is actually interested in them. However you decide to celebrate his special day, have great fun.

  • I feel your pain! It all seems like such a hassle. Then there’s all the cleanup afterwards. It really seems like it is just not worth it sometimes!

  • Year after year I tried to give my daughter really nice birthday parties: the skating rink, the swimming pool, and so on. I know how you feel. Sometimes you think they just don’t appreciate it!

  • My kids get so much stuff from our family that we don’t need to throw a big party for them anymore. They usually just want a couple friends to come over.

  • I totally understand about the kids having too much stuff! My husband and I recently decided not to by loads of extravagant gifts for our kids on holidays…..because they only play with them a week and then they forget about them. Great article!

  • We didn’t overdue the first birthday but the rest we do something because family wants to come together and celebrate. I am stern about people not getting them a bunch to toys, sometimes we do donations in lieu of gifts

  • You couldn’t have three better reasons. We have a little family get-together for the kids and that’s it, w/the exception of my social butterfly daughter. We invite her friends to the park and have cake and grill hot dogs. Easy, low-expense and easy clean-up too (she’s a teen though). 😉

  • We don’t do birthday parties either. Mainly because no one shows up but son prefers to spend time with us. So we take him to his favorite restaurant of choice and have a nice diner together.

  • All very good reasons. Do people usually have birthday parties for their children every year? My son is only 1 1/2, so we haven’t really had to decide yet. I remember growing up though and we didn’t really have parties every year. We always had family over, but not a big huge party. haha My brothers never had parities. I don’t think they cared either.

    • All of my friends seem to be having parties for their children every year. My birthday is in the summer so I remember my birthday parties always being kind of low key because everyone was always away on vacation!