Monday, November 19, 2007

Impending Birthday

When I was a little girl, birthday parties typically consisted of my mom baking a cake and an assortment of aunts, uncles and cousins descending on our home with gifts or, as I got older, cards with some cash in them. Well, as any of you who have children old enough to have "friend" parties know, birthdays have turned into an extravaganza in many cases.

I don't really know why this has happened but it has. I think parents are to blame because, really, most little kids are satisfied with so very little. Do we try to live vicariously through our children by creating these lavish parties? Or, are we just in pissing contests with the other parents we know, trying to show what we have? That is more my theory and, believe me, I am as guilty as the next person at partaking in this overblown birthday bonanza business. Not to mention the fact that parties are time-consuming, expensive and, well, a pain in the arse.

We only had family parties until Her Highness turned five and then we had her first "real" party. Because she has a December birthday, we rented a local gymnasium and an inflatable slide. We invited all the children in the world that we knew in order to justify this expense. It was a hit! The following year, I organized a Princess Party for about eight six year-olds in which they all came dressed in costume and ate finger foods and crafted. Last year, we took about 15 kids bowling.

This year, however, I am scaling back. Way back. We are inviting cousins and the neighbors. And that is it. Nothing too fancy compared to many of the parties Her Highness has attended in the last year. One party she went to involved a trip to the salon, movies and dinner out at a steak place. She got her nails done and an up 'do. Another time she was taken to Build-A-Bear and lunch. All great parties but at some point the line has to be drawn. I am drawing it here and now. This year, we are having cake, food and a craft; maybe some karaoke because our theme, after all, is Hannah Montana.

With HH's birthday falling only sixteen days before Christmas, I have always struggled with inviting people to parties because of the financial crunch so many experience at this time of year. I have tried the "no gifts" strategy but it was unsuccessful, as I was certain it would be. (There is no way I could attend or send my child to a party without a gift.) And this year, with gas prices what they are and the economy in my area so sluggish, I just couldn't ask another person to bring a present to my daughter who is in need of absolutely nothing but some new socks.

So, I am going against the grain. Being a rebel. I will not be inviting your kid to my kid's party. Don't worry. We have lots of Barbies, too many Bratz and oodles of Littlest Pet Shops. You, dear friends, are off the hook this year. Take your money and buy a gift for a needy child because the kid who lives with me is far, far from needy.


Nap Warden said...

I have totally noticed this trend. We have been to so many huge parties, with bands and renting out is crazy. I haven't dived into the pool yet...truth be told, I'm kind of scared;)

WorksForMom said...

I'm liking your rebel ways Toni. Enough is enough is enough. Having a BIG bash every year seems so excessive (and the bar only gets raised). Good post!

Robin said...

My son loves all bday parties, but the ones where the kids just play in the backyard and have cake he loves the best.

As for his bday parties, I've done both - at places and at homes. He has a Sept bday which makes it hard, because he is just getting to know the kids in the class when it is time to organize it, so this year we are doing a half birthday part in March - a quieter time of the year.

As for presents - I knew a kid that once asked her guests to bring a favorite children book that she would be donating to a shelter or someplace. The kids knew ahead of time it was for another child, not the birthday girl. It worked beautifully and they look forward to seeing where the next years present will be given (charity).

Matchbox Mom said...

Hi! Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog! It's always nice to have new blogging friends!

Hope your birthdays turn out well! I'll be dropping in again too!


Kellan said...

Birthdays around Christmas are so hard and you are right about birthdays are getting so out of hand. We have tried to scale back over the past several years too, it's crazy. Kids do love a Birthday party, but they are satisfied with a lot less than all the hoopla! Take care. See you soon. Kellan

Kelly Malloy said...

That sounds like a great way to spend her birthday - besides, she will gain so much more than the presents that are forgotten way to quickly!

Patois said...

My daughter was invited to a party where the request was made for no gifts. Knowing how many feel that's not possible, the girl's mother noted that any gifts given would be donated to an area charity. If you end up having a few, try that, especially with Toys for Tots in need this time of year. And good for you for drawing the line!

MamaMichelsBabies said...

I don't know if this is something that's a gender thing across the board or if it's just my inmates, but the only people that really want a huge party around here is the girl, Boom, the boys could care less. As long as they get to tear around somewhere they are content. It could be the park, chuck e cheese or even the house and the running rules are off for the day.

Although I have been to more then a few parties that made me raise my eyebrow and wonder how the parent justified the money spent. My kids will remember family, and lots of laughter on their birthdays, they'll never remember what kids came, or how many (at one party the little girl didn't even know half the kids there....)

The big parties around here? 1 year, 10, 13 and 16 (more for the girl, again)

Keep on rebelling, there are others out there that are as well.