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Growth Spurts: Birthday Party Wins and Fails

Since this issue of Parents & Kids Magazine has a lot to do with birthday parties, I thought I’d revisit some of my own children’s birthday party “wins” and “fails” from over the years.

Win: My first child’s first birthday party included pretty much all the Sesame Street decor I could find at the party store, because this needed to be a gigantic celebration!

Fail: The cost of all those cute decorations adds up fast. And most of it ends up in the garbage. Also, my one-year-old had no idea what was going on and, therefore, had little appreciation for the cute decor. Or the money spent on it.

Win: The Dora the Explorer party we had for Callie’s third birthday was lots of fun! Each child received a backpack (made out of paper grocery bags, leather ties, and big googly eyes) and a map, and they all went on an adventure together, which culminated in a room full of balloons to pop and candy to collect inside each balloon.

Fail: Do you know how long it took to prepare all those backpacks, maps, and balloons??

Win: When Caleb announced (somewhat randomly) that he wanted to have a King Kong birthday party, I had elaborate plans for a two-feet-tall, multi-tiered Empire State Building cake, complete with an angry ape at the top, holding a tiny blonde beauty. I even had little airplanes hanging above the cake. I was pretty proud of my homemade creativity.

Fail: My “homemade creativity” translated into the fact that I had no professional cake-building experience, which meant that I did not level each tier, which meant that the top three layers slid right off and became a crumbled heap of cake, just minutes before the party guests arrived. We all got a good laugh out of it, though; and let’s be honest–a crumbled heap of cake is still delicious.

Win: Katie’s fourth birthday party was huge! We were surrounded by so many people who loved our daughter and brought her presents!

Fail: We were surrounded by so many people who loved our daughter and brought her presents. (It was too much.)

Win: We had Caleb’s 8th birthday party on a football field, and he and his friends got to run through their team signs, yell as much as they wanted, wear eye black, play football, eat cake, get dirty, drink Gatorade, and repeat as desired.

Fail: Are you kidding me? There was no fail in this party. I highly recommend throwing all large groups of boys onto a football field for a birthday party.

My children are now growing out of their themed birthday parties, but we’ve sure had lots of fun with all the Disney princesses, Marvel heroes, Barbies, Buzz Lightyear, Strawberry Shortcake, Star Wars characters, ballerinas, LEGOs, Bob the Builder, and others. We learned through the years how not to go overboard but still celebrate big! I’ve had fun making all the cakes, and my children have been ever-so-kind in their opinions of them. I think the important thing is to be sure that you are able to focus on the birthday kid and that they actually enjoy the festivities. Avoiding taking out a small loan to afford the party is pretty key, too.

However you choose to celebrate your child, make sure it’s a happy birthday for everyone!


Carrie Bevell Partridge has thrown 33 birthday parties for her children so far, and she has managed to avoid skyscraper-type cakes since 2007.

About The Author

Carrie Partridge

Carrie Bevell Partridge grew up in Memphis, TN with her parents and four siblings. She attended Mississippi College, where she met her husband Kevin. They have been married for 20 years and have five children. They live in Ridgeland, MS. Carrie has written the “Growth Spurts” column and managed social media for Parents & Kids Magazine since 2011. You can read more of her work at and

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