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Mother/Daughter Writing Team Takes on Birthday Party Craziness


A Tallahassee writer and her grown daughter have teamed up on a book that ramps down the sometimes out-of-control expectations connected to birthday parties for kids.

Co-author Dr. Sally Butzin said she’s always been something of a child at heart.

“I’m a long-time educator and I’ve always really focused on children and looking at the world from a child’s point of view. I actually spent a semester being a first-grader at a school. I call myself the ‘Margaret Mead of First Grade.’”

Now Butzin has embarked on a book project with her grown daughter Charlotte Beal, who lives in California with a couple of kids of her own.

“Your relationship gets to a whole new level and you get to experience your mom in a whole different way, so it’s been really rewarding and fun,” Beal said.

Over the years both Beal and her mom have become alarmed and even appalled, at the extravagance that has become common when some parents throw birthday parties for even the littlest kids.

“The ‘Mommy Wars’ are still rampant and I see so much pressure put on moms to one-up each other and show how much effort and thought and imagination went into this party, when really it seems more to impress the other parents and the moms then thinking about the core reason for having the celebration in the first place,” Beal said.

Butzin speculated those events can be more stress than fun for the guests of honor.

“And so the idea of going to a big, massive party with piñatas where everybody’s banging (things) and the aggressive kids are pushing and shoving, that’s not appealing to many kids, so we’re trying to create activities that appeal to a broad range of children,” she said.

The resulting book that Butzin and Beal created is entitled “Best Buddies Birthdays” Beal said it’s full of ideas for activities that are simple, inexpensive and still lots of fun.

“I think there are 50 ideas for different activities and games and crafts for all different types of kids, whether they’re more active or creative or quiet and then just giving yourself permission to just make a cake.”

…and not feel obligated to provide fully catered dinners, professional entertainment and live pony rides for birthday kids barely out of diapers. Butzin announced an upcoming book signing event will provide a local launch for “Best Buddies Birthdays”.

“It’s going to be at Lofty Pursuits, which is a fabulous little nostalgic shop with the old soda fountain and games and what-not,” she said. “We’ll actually have some of the games set up so the kids can try some of the games that are in the book. The event is going to be Saturday, February 27th from 11 until 2.”

The book also seems an ideal gift for all those moms – and dads – who are consumed by envy, guilt and maybe ever terror when a child’s birthday looms on the horizon.