Does anyone think birthday parties are getting over the top? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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Old 11-05-2007, 11:17 PM
 
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Yes, I think they are getting out of hand.
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Old 11-05-2007, 11:23 PM
 
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I haven't read through the replies, but I have to say, yes, I think many parties go over the top anymore! Especially where I live!

What really bothers me is seeing parents spend gobs of money on a party, inviting everyone, and it being all about the parent and not about the child. I've seen lots of birthday children become very overwhelmed at their own parties because their parents plan these parties that are more like smallish wedding receptions.

We've tried combining our kids' birthday celebrations(they are both 1 month apart from each other), etc. But the best party we ever had was when our DD had a slumber party when she turned 10. That was a lot of fun! (Except I was dead tired in the morning, but oh well!)
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Old 11-06-2007, 01:59 AM
 
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Ds will be turning 6 and up to this point they have all been at home. We do get our cakes from Costco because they are huge and only $14.99 for a huge decorated bakery cake.

For the first few years we just did pizza and veggie trays, that sort of thing, then another year ds wanted a large sub sandwich. But then the next year I hired a caterer who actually was a lot less expensive then getting one of those huge sub sandwiches, ingredients for sides, paper products, etc. and they did all the setup.

This year though, ds in in K, and for the first time he's inviting his whole class and other friends to Pump It Up, one of those party inflatables places. I have to provide cake (Costco again) and it is going to be pretty expensive. 32 Kids are invited plus their parents will be there. But after this year it's going to be a greatly reduced number of kids, probably just his good friends. He understands this, and he also understands that the party is a lot of his gift. I am really excited about having it somewhere other than our house. Every year I have a huge Halloween party for him, and his birthday is only a few weeks before Christmas. Add to that the fact we ALWAYS get sick right before his party and I am just exhausted. My in-laws come in the fall as well for 10 days - so this year dh and I decided were going to let the party place do the work. All I have to do is send out the invites, pay the bill, and pick up the Costco cake. I can't wait!
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Old 11-06-2007, 05:07 AM
 
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I'll admit to paying extra to have parties somewhere other than my house. It's just so so so much easier. But I am not in competition and I don't have any expectations for anyone else's parties. I'm just lazy.
Heh, sign me up for this boat. I'm the same way. I'd rather have the party somewhere else, just because of the clean up before and after the party. We did my son's 4th at the local bounce house (place filled with jumper things) he loved it, and the place did everythign for me. It was stress free, and the kids had a blast. I'm certianley not trying to one up anyone... I just want my kid to have fun, and to make it less stressful for the family. IE, me not stressing out! lol
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Old 11-06-2007, 06:22 AM
 
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We do homemade parties but I really love the idea of holding it somewhere else - we just can't afford that one. ITA that parties are going way out of control, my sis does homemade parties too, when she gave the party treat bag away at the end one child turned around and said 'Is that all? It's cr@p!' Sis replied that he could give it back if it was that bad - he didn't, as parents I think we have to be really careful about the message we give to kids about expecting so much when at a party or holding one - a birthday party is the celebration of birth and a important for the family and those involved but we don't have to invite all and sundry. Just my tuppence worth!
PS I am stunned that people would phone to ask where their invite is - that is astounding! Whether they think it's lost or not!

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Old 11-06-2007, 10:20 AM
 
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I'll admit to paying extra to have parties somewhere other than my house. It's just so so so much easier. But I am not in competition and I don't have any expectations for anyone else's parties. I'm just lazy.

Add me to this list. I hate the celan up after having the party at our house.
As for other people being over the top, well, that i their perogative. I don't feel compelled to compete with it. I throw the kind of party I want and they throw the kind of party they want.

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Old 11-06-2007, 12:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Add me to this list. I hate the celan up after having the party at our house.
As for other people being over the top, well, that i their perogative. I don't feel compelled to compete with it. I throw the kind of party I want and they throw the kind of party they want.
I agree with everything you're saying. I just dislike the trend. I don't think it's good for kids--the birthday child or the guests. As the Birthdays Without Pressure website points out, it's really representative of excessive consumerism in our society....
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Old 11-06-2007, 12:15 PM
 
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Yeah, I've heard of that happening too (with kids talking at school and other kids' feelings being hurt). Is it just a preschool thing? Because in elementary school, most kids have a definite set of friends -- I can't imagine having wanted to (or having been expected to) invite my *whole* elementary school class just because I wanted to invite my two girlfriends who happened to be in the class. Does this odd expectation end in kindergarten (hopefully)?
At my kids' school it's not unusual to invite the whole class but classes are tiny 6-12 kids so it's not so many kids. It's also not uncommon to invite just close friends. It goes both ways. I think in schools with larger classes, the invite the whole class thing ends by Kindergarten.
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Old 11-06-2007, 12:45 PM
 
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I'll admit to paying extra to have parties somewhere other than my house. It's just so so so much easier. But I am not in competition and I don't have any expectations for anyone else's parties. I'm just lazy.
Same here!

And I make the invitations because it is something I enjoy, not because I am trying to show-off or one-up someone else. I love to scrapbook so I spend a lot of time making the invites (and a lot more money than if I would just buy standard ones!). It is a hobby and I would hate for someone to think that I was trying to do an "over the top" party because of my invites.
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Old 11-06-2007, 02:08 PM
 
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I'll admit to paying extra to have parties somewhere other than my house. It's just so so so much easier. But I am not in competition and I don't have any expectations for anyone else's parties. I'm just lazy.
This would be me too!
We have back to back holiday birthdays in our family it's just too stressful for me. I can handle doing the family parties, but doing a kids party too is just too much.
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Old 11-06-2007, 05:00 PM
 
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And I make the invitations because it is something I enjoy, not because I am trying to show-off or one-up someone else. I love to scrapbook so I spend a lot of time making the invites (and a lot more money than if I would just buy standard ones!). It is a hobby and I would hate for someone to think that I was trying to do an "over the top" party because of my invites.
Oh yeah, me too! I loooove making DS's b-day invitations, Christmas cards, thank-you notes, etc. -- it's a fun hobby of mine. I never thought that people would think I was trying to make some statement other than "I enjoy scrapbooking."

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Old 11-06-2007, 05:12 PM
 
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We HAVE to have my son's 5th birthday party at an indoor playground because we live in a small, cramped apartment. And a late-November birthday means it's too cold for an outdoor party. We're inviting none of his current Kindy friends - just because after 2 months, we haven't figured out who they are yet! Also, inviting the whole class of 20 is out of the question. That said, I don't mind spending our hard-earned money on this party because it's our one big event that we have each year and we can invite all our/his friends who always are having us over. We use the site evite.com for the invitations - if you haven't tried it, it's very handy. You can personalize it and keep track of who's coming.
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Old 11-06-2007, 06:04 PM
 
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This thread and the OP both resonate strongly with me. The over-the-top birthday party trend is one that bothers me a lot.

We are lucky to have a June birthday and have thus far been able to do simple, back yard bathing suit parties with water balloons, the sprinkler, treasure hunts, etc. We do homemade invites, but they are nothing fancy, believe me - it's just my reaction away from the slick, character-themed invites that seem to be everywhere. One of the biggest challenges we face is how to limit party size. We live in a great neighborhood with lots of young kids, most of whom my dd loves and plays with regularly. Inviting one of them always means including their sibling(s), and then the parents inevitably both come. We have about 9 neighborhood friends, including siblings, plus parents - - but then there are kids from outside the neigborhood, family friends, cousins, friends from pre school/kindergarten, and so on. I have traditionally made cupcakes to take into school, thereby dispatching with the school crowd, then hosted a family get-together, *then* had our mellow neighborhood party. It seems like a lot to do 3 events, but I am not sure how else to limit the size of the actual party.

We do get tons and tons of invites to other kids' parties, the majority of which we decline. DD just started kindergarten and one of the little boys in her class (a child with whom she has very little in common - she comes home with stories of some of the unkind things he says) invited her to his party. I'm guessing he invited the whole class. I asked her if he was someone she wanted to invite to her own party, and she realized she did not. On her own she came to the idea that it didn't make much sense for us to restructure our precious weekend time to attend a party of a boy she hardly knows and doesn't want to feel obligated to invite to her own party. I was proud of her for getting to that place on her own.

Now on to my pet peeve: GIFT BAGS! It seems that at every party there is some hideous plastic bag, containing equally hideous, plastic-wrapped junk made in China. At the last party we went to we opened the gift bag, took our a plastic wrapped plastic top, gave it a spun, and lo & behold, it broke. Same with the other plastic things in the bag - they all broke, one by one. What a colossal waste, both environmentally and in a million other ways. Most of these bags have 10 - 15 little items in them.

Intstead of traditional gift bags we take brown paper lunch bags, dd paints the outside & we hole punch & tie them with a ribbon. We put a few seed packets inside, along with some loose stickers, homemade playdough or goop, perhaps a homemade cookie or granola bar. Pretty low key stuff.

I work really hard to keep things simple, but it's difficult when weekend after weekend we receive an invite to something that is anything but and that clashes strongly with the things we value.

I've had a number of changes in my life which have made things crazy busy for me and my MDC time has taken a nose dive, although I still lurk here and there. Reading these posts reminds me why I was drawn to this site in the first place and reminds me to come here more often! Peace, mamas.

Mama to 2 mopheaded rascals
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Old 11-06-2007, 06:24 PM
 
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Yup, some are getting out of control.

At SD's 5th birthday party (a modest affair at her mom's apartment), a *PARENT* expressed dismay at the lack of a goody bag. (I think a coloring book and crayons were offered as party favors. The parent actually sneered: "Is this all there is for Cody to take home?")

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Old 11-06-2007, 09:53 PM
 
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Yup, some are getting out of control.

At SD's 5th birthday party (a modest affair at her mom's apartment), a *PARENT* expressed dismay at the lack of a goody bag. (I think a coloring book and crayons were offered as party favors. The parent actually sneered: "Is this all there is for Cody to take home?")
: What an incredibly rude and ungrateful mom. Nice example there.

All the parties we have and attend are of the simple, homemade variety, fortunately. Almost all of them are no-gift parties, usually book exchange, bring something for a potluck, or art/craft supply exchange(my idea, everyone loved it. We don't do "friend' parties until the kids turn 4. DS's parties have always been at a local playground. We have lots of simple but good homemade food (sometimes potluck, sometimes not), usually a pinata with healthier treats, and the kids just play on the playground while the parents hang out. The take-home part for the guests was the pinata stuff, which included stickers, and their book-exchange books.

We had dd's first "friend" party for her 4th this past Feb. Too cold for the park. She requested an "ABC Party," so we decorated with dollar store stuff, had a craft of stick-on foam letters, a craft supply exchange, and decorate-your-own cupcakes, free of artifical colors, etc. We had alphabet pretzels and pasta, a real lunch (mostly for the parents--dh and I have gone hungry at to many bday parties when we didn't have time to eat and food wasn't substantial--but that's fine too--our fault for not eating ). The kids took home their craft exchange stuff plus the craft they made, and everyone was happy with that. I can't stand most of the typical goodie bag crapola--more plastic to throw in the landfill, oh yay!

We went to a wonderful homemade party this past sunday. The mom, a very good friend of mine, created a treasure hunt, a homemade pinata, and other games, and everyone had a great time. Our whole family went, and it was the best day we'd had together in a long time.

Kids will appreciate--and prefer--simple parties if that's what they're fortunate enough to be exposed to.

Heather, Mama to DS(10) DD(7.5),DD(6)
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Old 11-06-2007, 09:59 PM
 
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Add me to this list. I hate the celan up after having the party at our house.
As for other people being over the top, well, that i their perogative. I don't feel compelled to compete with it. I throw the kind of party I want and they throw the kind of party they want.
:

I'm sure every once in a while some community of parents gets competitive about birthday parties, but I really hate reading posts looking down their nose at a party they were lucky enough to be invited to. If you don't want to compete, don't compete. If you don't like a particular family's values, it might make sense to stop socializing with them, but a party is a kind of gift to the guests, and so if you go, be nice.

ZM
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Old 11-06-2007, 10:58 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm sure every once in a while some community of parents gets competitive about birthday parties, but I really hate reading posts looking down their nose at a party they were lucky enough to be invited to. If you don't want to compete, don't compete. If you don't like a particular family's values, it might make sense to stop socializing with them, but a party is a kind of gift to the guests, and so if you go, be nice.

ZM
I think you missed the point of my OP.

And no one has been rude to the hostesses, that I know of....
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Old 11-07-2007, 01:57 AM
 
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My children get invited to two, maybe three parties a year. We are always happy to go and grateful to be invited, whether they are at a home or a "party place" like a farm, kid museum, etc. Our parties that we have for my children have always been at home, although last year we did it at a park. That was WAY more work. Lots to pack up and take over, plus cleanup. I looked into having it somewhere else this year but I just can't see myself spending a minimum of $150 to throw a party, not even including cake!

I really like the idea of a book swap. We've done "no presents" for the last couple of years and that works, but I don't want to even do goodie bags. Like another poster said it's all crap made in china and I don't want to spend the money. A book swap could work because then the kids are still leaving with something. It's like most kids have been conditioned into coming, playing, and getting a bag on their way out.
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Old 11-07-2007, 11:20 AM
 
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I think you missed the point of my OP.

And no one has been rude to the hostesses, that I know of....
I guess my point is that is throwing a party is hard, and generally parents are just doing the best they can with the time, creativity and resources they have available. Expensive parties can be faster to throw (I believe-- we usually have a simple party at home). The fact that so many people in your circle spend $25 on a gift makes me suspect you run in an affluent circle, so it's not that surprising that they're spending more on parties. If we could afford it, I'd definitely get some help with my kids' parties.

I am getting a strong vibe that quite few of you feel morally superior to your hosts when my guess is that the hosts are just trying to do something fun for their kid and his/her friends. If they can afford it, why shouldn't they throw a big party for their kids? What's the big deal?

Anyhow, I don't think you need to worry about big expensive kids' parties becoming a national trend. Most of us can't afford to throw them.

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Old 11-07-2007, 11:43 AM
 
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HI!

Do not feel that you have to give the same type of party as your son's classmates. We all have our priorities. My boys had family paties when they were babies. Now that they are older (7 and 5) we allow them to invite a friend or 2 and we do something special. We also invite our parents and 1 set of cousins who are close in age. There have been times that we just took our boys somewhere special(build a bear, beach, baseball game, pirate boat ride) and that was instead of a party. I think it is important to celebrate the day and the year to come but it does not have to cost a fortune. Keep it simple.

On their actual birthday, my Dh and the rest of the kids usually go to an inexpensive restaurant to celebrate or I make them their favorite dinner at home. We do have a small cake or ice cream.

Best wishes to you.

Jen, mama to  (M-13, N- 10, C- 8 rainbow1284.gif J- 3.5, and rainbow1284.gifJ -2, angel3.gifA (10/4/07) and 3 early losses)
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Old 11-07-2007, 12:06 PM
 
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I am blessed to have the parents and families we have as friends. I havent been to an over the top party yet. We do all birthdays with our homeschool/play group and we have about 25 kids in it.

We do low-key parties. We keep gifts $5 and under or homemade. We've had parties at the park, the roller rink, the lake, and homes. Last year we had so many Jan. bdays my son shared a party with 4 other kids and we rented the roller rink and all the parents pitched in on food. We do everything with this group, so all the kids are friends. This year, he'll be 5, so we are going to have a boys sleepover at home, with prob only 4 guests.

I'm not into all the flash stuff with my lifestyle, so I guess thats why I just dont encounter it. But I can imagine how it is elsewhere. :

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Old 11-07-2007, 04:07 PM - Thread Starter
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I guess my point is that is throwing a party is hard, and generally parents are just doing the best they can with the time, creativity and resources they have available. The fact that so many people in your circle spend $25 on a gift makes me suspect you run in an affluent circle

I am getting a strong vibe that quite few of you feel morally superior to your hosts when my guess is that the hosts are just trying to do something fun for their kid and his/her friends.

Anyhow, I don't think you need to worry about big expensive kids' parties becoming a national trend. Most of us can't afford to throw them.

ZM
I definitely don't feel morally superior. I dislike the spirit that is going on in my community. I can't speak for others here. Some parties end up being less about kids and more about the grownups involved. Each party in the circle I am referring to seems to be getting bigger and "better" than the last. I sense a trend.

I am getting a strong vibe that you are resentful that anyone would dare complain about a problem resulting from affluence, because you are in a differing financial situation?

I actually do have the resources to "compete" if I wanted to, but I don't on principle. Especially with the number of parties we are invited to. I could spend $25 on each child, but it seems a little excessive to me, esp. when these children already have "everything". I would rather buy a simple toy, book, or craft project/supplies. I live a fairly frugal lifestyle, and we like to save our money for emergencies, home improvements, organic foods, etc. It is a different allocation of resources that I am talking about, I guess, for us anyway.

Of course, the last hostess I asked gift ideas for told me exactly WHICH gift to buy, rather than giving me a theme or number of ideas. And I believe it is a gift of $20 or more. Again, in keeping with this trend I am seeing, the consumerism seems to be more important than the real celebration.

We aren't really in that affluent an area--university town, lots of professors and professionals. But no millionaires. It's not just the expense of a fancy party. It's the whole vibe and ideals behind it.

Have you been in this situation where you are suddenly caught up in a "party circuit" and feel like you have to jump off the hamster wheel or be stuck in it forever? This is the first time this has happened for us. Last year we didn't get so many invites and the parties were smaller and more casual. Suddenly it seems like...a circuit, an endless cycle of parties.

It IS nice to be invited. In my perfect world the parties would be a bit different, though!
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Old 11-07-2007, 04:11 PM - Thread Starter
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HI!

Do not feel that you have to give the same type of party as your son's classmates. We all have our priorities. My boys had family paties when they were babies. Now that they are older (7 and 5) we allow them to invite a friend or 2 and we do something special. We also invite our parents and 1 set of cousins who are close in age. There have been times that we just took our boys somewhere special(build a bear, beach, baseball game, pirate boat ride) and that was instead of a party. I think it is important to celebrate the day and the year to come but it does not have to cost a fortune. Keep it simple.

On their actual birthday, my Dh and the rest of the kids usually go to an inexpensive restaurant to celebrate or I make them their favorite dinner at home. We do have a small cake or ice cream.


Best wishes to you.
Thanks. No, I definitely don't feel I have to compete. We will do whatever we feel comfortable doing, although I do hope no one will be offended if we end up not inviting the whole class. That is another part of the trend. Do you know how many parties that ends up being in a school year? Yikes!

I actually miscounted the number of parties we have been to in the past 6 weeks. It is six--and one of them was for TWO kids, so that meant two gifts.

Yeah, we are going to have to start getting pickier about our RSVPs at this rate. It is nice to be invited but if my DS isn't even friends with the child and I'm not friends with the parents, I don't really feel the need to go. I guess I should assume that the hostess in that situation might realize that and is just inviting everyone because she is like me--afraid of hurting feelings! Ironic.
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Old 11-07-2007, 06:13 PM
 
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My kid's parties and our friend's kid's parties usually have a ton of kids invited because we have a large homeschool group that is close. But, we nor our friend's families go overboard. Parties are usually at the park or the lake if it is summer birthday and the kids just run and play and have some cake and ice cream. If the party happens at lunch time, there will be a BBQ or sandwiches. Our group does do goodie bags, but I don't think they are over the top either. I usually include a noise maker, a blow-up punch balloon, one piece of candy and a ball or other small toy.
I've never been to a kid's party that seemed extravagent.

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Old 11-07-2007, 10:58 PM
 
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In my area, birthday parties seem to be getting a bit big and expensive. Rare is the party that is held at home, with a simple cake and ice cream, and inexpensive but fun gifts. In the past 6 weeks, DS has been invited to 4 parties. 3 have been huge affairs with tons of food and tons of kids invited. Gifts are pricey---almost like folks feel obligated to spend at least $25 or more, or perhaps it is a competition. I don't know. His classmates have been inviting the entire class. And the invitations--well, plain old paper invitations are passe. We have received CD invitations, invitations that are printed on balls that you blow up, and invitations that are rolled up inside a plastic bottle for a pirate party.

One party will be at a neighbor's house and it will be small with a homemade cake and we received a homemade invitation with it. Yay!

DS is going to be 5 in Feb. and I am not sure I feel like inviting his whole preschool class. It would mean 13+ kids in our house in the wintertime. We could hold it elsewhere but of course we would have to pay for it. Of course, I have to discuss with him what kind of party he wants, but I am hoping he doesn't have his heart set on a huge bash.

I realize I may sound a bit like a party pooper, or a killjoy, but I don't mean to. I know people can throw whatever kind of party they want and we don't "have" to attend--we have, though, b/c DS wants to--I just dislike the current trend. Am I alone here?
ITA!! Dh and I were just talking about this and how we think it's getting pretty ridiculous. It seems like all of our friends go all out for birthdays with tons of food, gifts, kids, decorations, party favors, etc. It's just insane. Even to have a "simpel" party at home with cake, ice cream, drinks, and maybe pizza can get expensive when you think about all the people you have to feed. We didn't have a party for our youngest when he turned two and one of my friends said, "What?? You aren't having a party??" Like it's the end of the world or something, give me a break. We did have a party, but it was just with family and super simple. We spent maybe $50.

Sara Mama to DS (6) and DS (4)
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Old 11-08-2007, 12:56 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zeldamomma View Post
I guess my point is that is throwing a party is hard, and generally parents are just doing the best they can with the time, creativity and resources they have available. Expensive parties can be faster to throw (I believe-- we usually have a simple party at home). The fact that so many people in your circle spend $25 on a gift makes me suspect you run in an affluent circle, so it's not that surprising that they're spending more on parties. If we could afford it, I'd definitely get some help with my kids' parties.

I am getting a strong vibe that quite few of you feel morally superior to your hosts when my guess is that the hosts are just trying to do something fun for their kid and his/her friends. If they can afford it, why shouldn't they throw a big party for their kids? What's the big deal?

Anyhow, I don't think you need to worry about big expensive kids' parties becoming a national trend. Most of us can't afford to throw them.

ZM
I don't really see the "morally superior" thing.... I think it was more meant to be a comment on how big some kid parties seem to have gotten. I'm not sure how my post came off, but I agree w/ the OP that many parties for kids seem like an awful lot for a kid party - as a pp noted, if you do that for a 3 yo, what will you do for a milestone, like 16? A 3 yo doesn't need a birthday party which rivals Disneyland to have fun.
I try to have fun with our parties, I do crafty invites, games and crafts with the kids because I enjoy it, my kids enjoy it, and our guests seem to enjoy it. I do not judge those who choose the gym or roller rink (I hear you on the clean up!!!) but I think the OP was more getting at, once you have brought in a three ring circus for a 6 yo party, what comes when they are 10? Where does the escalation lead? And it seems so unnecessary....
Our financial situation has been all over the range, based on different employment situations, but I have never brought in any help other than my mom. I think a backyard birthday can satisfy most kids, if they haven't been exposed to society's "bigger/more is better" sort of attitude.

~*The days are long, but the years are short.*~
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