Birthday parties to do or not to do that is the question

When I was a kid, my mom would make a cake / buy a cake, buy paper Raggedy Ann plates and a tablecloth and get some streamers, some chips, order some pizzas and call a few relatives and it would be a big birthday party. Nowadays a birthday party is not a birthday party unless you have it at your house with a balloon guy, some sort of entertainment, a jumping thing, an arts and crafts area, salads and food for the adults, plus food for the kids. What ever happened to the home party that most of us had when growing up?

You may think this is a USA phenomenon but it is not – it is happening all over the world. I have been speaking to friends from Canada to Europe and beyond at it is true for everyone. Along with our designer purse prices going from $400 for a Chanel clutch in 1985 to $2,000 and up now, birthday party for kids are no longer just kiddie parties anymore. Bling is everywhere as they say. From watching the hills to even the Disney channel to going to the Barnum and  Bailey circus life has become like Vegas.

So the reason I am complaining is because going to Chuckie cheese used to be a big deal – go to the party – eat pizza get lots of tokens from the birthday kids family and go home with some prizes. Super fun right? What happened to just plain fun- kids run around – eat some cake- go home?

Recently, I went to a party that was more like a debutant ball. No joke. My daughter was invited to a 4 year old’s birthday party where there was valet parking, a theme, a chocolate fountain, a full kids buffet, a popcorn machine, a petting zoo, and a show. And on the way out, she  got a huge goody bag filled with a t shirt from Kitson – a very well known celebrity store in LA- lots of candy and a skateboard with her name on it. I know…this is not like all the other birthday parties my daughter normally attends, but the others are not that low key either.

This year I decided to do a birthday party for B at a kids restaurant so that it would be easy for me. The place would just provide the food and the kids get to play in the play area while the adults mingled. Of course they tried to pile it on once I signed up for the date of the party.

The manager of the kids restaurant asked if I wanted goody bags for $10 like Adam Sandler had he said, a balloon guy for $150 like another celeb did for her child’s party ( this is LA so this happens a lot in many places in LA- this place is not fancy it just so happens celebs have to do their kids parties somewhere and this is what happens in LA if there are only 7 kids party places in the area), a themed birthday cake for $119, and more.I said no thanks to all the extras and just decided to have the food for the kids and the adults and let them play.

I think sometimes people worry too much about what others have done- keeping up with the Joneses etc and then it becomes a little bit of a crazy competition.

I heard from a friend who lives in Australia who told me the same thing- she said that she had been to parties in LA and thought that some of the parties in Australia were even more over the top and that it is happening all over now.

It must be the media or something. We watch the Hills and the Simple Life and think everyone lives this way. Must also be the economy a few years back when everyone had a house that was worth double what they bought it for…well things are changing…and maybe birthday parties will change too now…

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