Monday, January 22, 2007

Birthdays Without Pressure

"Seven year olds in rural Minnesota get picked up by stretch limos to transport them to a friend’s party."

"A three year old’s parents in the same community rent a fire station for party #1, and a private club with a pool for party #2."

"A six year old girl and her friends in St. Paul get makeovers and dance in public as part of a “starlet” package at a party business."
Now here is a website that overachieving parents who are keeping up with the Joneses ought to read! You gotta take a few minutes and check it out! It's a website created by a small group of parents and professionals in St. Paul, Minnesota with a vision to launch a local and national conversation about how kids birthday parties have gotten out of control.

The stories are true, hysterically funny, and sad all in the same breath. I know these people - they live in my town too. After raising 3 kiddos and seeing some of the parties they were invited to, one has to wonder who is the party really for? The kid or the parents? I recall one parent who sent out invitations to a hockey party, rented out the local ice skating rink, and pretty much demanded that kids attending should bring a regulation NHL piece of equipment as a gift (they didn't want the cheap stuff) for their kid. My kid stayed home.

I also had a friend of mine whose 7 year old daughter was picked up by stretch limo and whisked off for a spa day with her friends.

As for me and my kids it was ice cream, cake, pin the tail on the donkey, a few games and lots of laid back fun in our house. Sometimes we'd do a party at the karate place, the roller rink, or the science museum. The only real big blow out party was when they had their bar and bat mitzvah celebrations and even that was low key in comparison to some of their friends' events (which tended to be more like a $15,000 wedding affair).

So what do you do for birthdays?

(H/T Leann S.)


Isaiah5513 said...

I'll check out the website in a minute. I just had to say that we dropped out of the birthday party rat race a couple of years ago. We only go to parties of very close friends. and we only give parties (w/ very close friends) every couple of years. For our 12 y.o. in December, we went to a "park" with go-carts, rock walls, lazer tag, and video games. WE did not buy a party package. We just bought regular tickets and let the kids do what they wanted.

A couple of years ago the boys were invited to a Star wars themed party at someone's home where the mom hung plastic in the living room and painted glo-in-the-dark stars, she gave each of the kids Jedi uniform that she made herself. It was neat, but she was exhausted and got upset when the boys used their light sabers when they weren't supposed to. Give a boy a light saber...She had lots of games. It was very (too) organized.

Lara said...

How funny! This very subject has been on my mind a lot the last week. We never went as crazy as the parents you mentioned, but we always had parties at somewhere cool (a local gym, Chuck E Cheese, etc.)

We vowed to do a "cake in the park" party this year. My son wasn't thrilled at first. But then I told him we could have a Star Wars pinata and use light sabers to whack it (of course previous poster is making me now wonder about the wisdom of that...) Very quickly the party idea went from lame to uber cool.

Dana said...

Knowing nothing about these people, I would say it is akin to the kids I knew in high school whose parents replaced themselves with material things. I knew kids with $200 a week allowances and wondered what else a teenager could do with that kind of money other than drugs. And all the while parents will complain about how they'd like to spend more time with their children, but they just can't afford it.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Interesting. For their birthdays, my kids (21 and 13) generally have chosen the meal I will cook and they get cake and ice cream with the family on the birthday itself.
One year, my daughter's birthday fell on Rosh Hashanah and we had a dinner for 14--to celebrate the holiday. We did have a cake for her as well.

For the bar/bat mitzvah, we had a kiddush luncheon after the service and then went home and had havdalah and a small party with birthday cake for the kids. No DJ, no photographer, etc. (I told them that they can have a wedding when they get married). For each child we had a studeo photograph taken for the bar/bat mitzvah but none of the other glitz.

Funny, neither of them has ever admited to feeling deprived.

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

As always I'm a day late and a dollar short but I had to comment!

We keep it small too. This year our oldest had a few girls over for a luau. We ordered pizza, let the kids run in the sprinkler, and played games with water balloons. Cheap!

Child #2 had a party at an indoor playground, cost split with a friend whose son is 2 days older than mine. Relatively cheap too.

Child #3 (the baby) had a family party with cake & presents.

We don't do anything but family parties until they're 4 or 5. Then we keep a party small if we have one at all. I have told my oldest she can choose to have a small, but fun party, or she can choose an activity like going to a movie, out to eat, putt putt, etc that the whole family could do together. With 5 of us the cost skyrockets quick.

Blueberry said...

We either do a homemade cake or a small store bought one if I'm feeling too lazy. If my husband is off work, we celebrate and then go do something fun together, otherwise we wait until he gets off work that night.

One year we went to the zoo, another year we went bowling. Sometimes we'll go see a movie and other times we stay home and bbq something.

I did a couple of parties a long time ago, but they were just cake, ice cream, pizza and one sleepover.

We have a limit on money spent on birthdays, which is $30.00 including the cake on lean years, and up to $50.00 including the cake on good years. The real treat is the family event, which lindsey already said, the cost skyrockets quick. Thankfully my kids have been really good about asking for things that are within budget.

My daughter recently turned 16 and when she got up that morning I looked at her and said "Don't look out at the driveway expecting a car, because you didn't get one". LOL She knew better!!°Ü°