Sunday, May 17, 2009

This Party is Out of Control!

The Chicago Tribune had an article about children's birthday parties today. The title of the article is Birthday Bashes for Less. So I thought that finally someone is writing about the ridiculousness of children's birthday parties (or adults for that matter). But no...the basic idea was that parents are starting to have their elaborate birthday parties on weekdays. This, I guess, is cheaper because some locations offer reduced rates for weekday parties.

So, I suppose I have to be the someone who writes about the ridiculousness of children's birthday parties (or adults for that matter).

I have this thing about birthday parties. In general, I don't do them for my kids. Since my kids' birthdays are all within 6 weeks of each other, we host a single family party for all three once a year that is very simple and casual. Shockingly, we host it at our house. I don't really understand the trend of going somewhere (like Chuck E Cheese, Little Gym, etc) and having to have specific activities, etc. for kids. We just don't need Party Leaders in our lives.
I work with kids, I have kids, I was a kid. You really don't need to give them anything to do. Put a group of children of similar age together and they will run and play and fight and it will be fantastic! We had birthday parties all the time as kids, and we just had people over and my mom got us food and maybe a video (and the VCR rented from the video store).

As for a friend party, I think my daughter has had two over the past 12 years. Every few years, she has a 'big' party with 8-10 friends...again at our house, simple (they love chips and ice cream). We didn't have parties at all until she was in grade school. Most often, she invites a friend or two over to do something special, like go to the movies, out to lunch, or have a sleepover.

My favorite is the First Birthday Party. I suppose marking the child's first year of life is important but let's face it...the party is for the parents and grandparents. The child will have absolutely no memory of this event except for photos (yes, I think that 'eating cake photo' is adorable). What I don't understand is why people have these huge parties, renting out halls, catering food, etc.? Its a lot of work, energy, and lots of money. The event should be intimate.

My second favorite is Adult Parties at Bars. I just don't understand this idea at all. I really don't like being invited to a party and then asked to pay $30 just to go, especially because it would take me days to drink $30 worth of Sprite. I went to a party at my friends house once, and we were asked to pay for dinner. I feel like if you want to have a party, you should pay for it.

And don't get me started on party favors.

I think celebrating special moment is extremely important. But I think we should focus on the actual celebration not the event. My mom always tell us our Birth Story on our birthday. We always write down our favorite moments of the past year on New Year's Eve. We often prepare a small show about the honored person. I am banned from diapers and dishes on Mother's Day.

Because, overall, it is not about a party with lots of food, favors, activities, and decorations. Its about the amazing person and that doesn't take any money to say "I Love You!"


Anonymous said...

but why not share it with others? We don't do parties out of the house but we do invite the whole class. Cake is the same price since we just cut smaller pieces of a homemade cake. Games and such aren't too tough with target games or bozo buckets that can easily be made more or less difficult. water balloons are easy and fun.

I'm totally with you on the excesses but don't see avoiding parties as the solution. Relationships contain the joys of life and they thrive with contact, not isolation.

The Fearless Freak said...

Having just had MT's birthday party today, I have to say that paying the hundred bucks to have it at the Orpheum was beyond worth it! We got 8 kids (including my 2) plus all the grandparents together and let them have at it for 2 hours. I didn't have to clean my house or find something for them to do for 2 hours. I didn't have to clean up afterward, etc. I showed up at 9:30, stuffed goody bags, put out a table cloth, the cake and the drinks. For 2 hours, I watched the kids play, chatted with the parents and actually had fun at my kid's party. Then, I rolled up the table clothes, carried the cake and the presents to the car and it was over. I'm not sure we will ever have a party at home again after how well this went.

We did do goody bags but they were small. A sheet of stickers, a "disk launcher" and Batman stretchy bracelets. I've seen some people who went WAY over the top with birthday goody bags. They are neat and cute but SO expensive and time consuming.

gwenna said...

Hmmmm, I guess the right balance can be tricky. Also, it's tough to marry into a family that does really big parties for everything. That is not what I'm used to, but it is hard to know how much to give in to the family tradition of it all.

I just start to wonder what our kids will think and expect when they are used to getting such elaborate things for their birthday and all the time. Remember when we got small gifts maybe 1 time a year? It was so much more meaningful. What kind of new culture are we creating? Scary to me to think about. Maybe the recession will have some positive effects for that. Anyway...I digress.

Jenna said...

Anon...I don't think I said, don't have any parents...and I think I was clear that you should share special times with others. But the excess is plainly excessive and unnecessary. The type of party you describe is simple, easy, and cheap...and I would say appropriate.