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Childrens Birthday Parties. Have they gotten out of hand?Are they much too expensive now?

Updated on July 2, 2012

Expensive and Competitive Childrens Parties.

I don't know if I'm the only one who thinks this but it seems to me that these days children's birthday parties seem to have become some sort of a huge competition, more about who can afford the most money to provide an expensive party.

Childrens goodie bags no longer contain simply a balloon and a piece of cut birthday cake wrapped in a soggy paper towel. Last weekend my niece came to our house straight from a friends party. Inside her designer goodie bag she had an individual cup cake in a gold foil box, a really nice hand made glass ring, four mini bars of Green and Blacks finest chocolate, two wooden bracelets, a hair band, a silver coloured cover for her I pod and a pale pink lip gloss.

She was also in possession of a helium balloon in the shape of a pony that was almost as big as she was. She’s eight years old. I was amazed, but she didn’t seem to think it was a particularly impressive example of a goodie bag at all! She informed me that the week before she attended a party that was much better and had a much bigger goodie bag.

This might just be the best dark chocolate you can buy.

When I was a child birthday parties were fun. Invitations were homemade or just word of mouth. Party food included jelly, jam sandwiches, crisps, biscuits, fairy cakes and a bowl of sweets. If you were really lucky the mum of the birthday boy or girl had also gone to the trouble of making a cheese and pineapple hedgehog. (That’s a tin foil covered potato with cocktail sticks threaded with the food to you and me).

The birthday cake was, without fail, homemade and simple. Games included pass the parcel where the prize was a small bar of chocolate or a very cheap toy, pin the tail on the donkey and musical chairs. Towards the end of the party the mum and possible a grandma or an aunt went around the room with a bin bag and you helped pick up the rubbish, then you all sat down on the floor and played a quiet game to help wind down before you were picked up and went home.

You had a couple of party dresses a year, and thought nothing of wearing the same one to several parties in a row. As long as it was clean and ironed it was fine. I miss those simple days and they were fun, not competitive, not expensive, not over the top in any way shape or form.

Jelly, always one of my favourite party foods.

Do kids really need a cake like this to have a great party?

Conspicuous consumption.

These days some parents seem to look upon a child’s birthday party as an opportunity to show the other parents just how much money they have to throw away.

Planning the event becomes a military operation that can take weeks if not month to get just right. How silly..

Parents struggle to outdo each other as the parties become more and more elaborate, with professional entertainers and cakes that cost a small fortune.

Even very young children feel pressured to look amazing with expensive outfits and can never be seen in the same thing twice.

Throw a less than perfect party and it can spell social disaster not just for the parents but for the child too. Even arriving to pick your child up from the party seems to be an occasion that the parents have to dress up for.

I have turned up in the past wearing an old t shirt and baggy joggers, I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable doing that today. I wouldn'tt want to feel that I'm letting my child down in any way, it really does seem to be a catch 22 situation.

Unless you are brave enough to go against the herd.

Great music for a retro party.

Good old fashioned parties.

It’s ridiculous and in today’s world seems vaguely obscene to me. People are starving, not just in developing countries but in the western world as well. Homeless shelters are filled and beggars have become an all too common sight on our city streets.

Maybe we should think about holding a good old fashioned birthday party and call it a retro party. Have sixties style food, music and games and ask the guests to turn up in sixties type clothes, you can pick up hippie type things at charity shops or car boot sales or just use garish colours and a few strings of love beads. Who knows, it just might catch on. Of course, I’m not at all sure I’d want to be the first parent to give it a go, if it was a disaster my child might never forgive me.

Thankfully, my own children are well past the birthday party stage so my bravery will never be put to the test. But lets hope that this trend for expensive, out of hand children's birthday parties ends soon.


Submit a Comment

  • GALAXY 59 profile image

    GALAXY 59 6 years ago from United Kingdom

    Sounds like a wonderful party, Alen. Glead to hear that all the kids enjoyed it so much, just goes to show that you don't need to spend a fortune on birthdays.

  • profile image

    ALEN 6 years ago

    I just had a party for my 7 yr ols son and althogh we did get a small jumping castle, it was a once off ocaission (and at a very good rate). Normal cake and a few bowls of crisps, sweets amd goodies and we left tde kids to their own devices. And no party packs/goodie bags either! The kids all played, sang happy birthday, jumped, ran, screamed and then went home very tired and happy.

  • MPG Narratives profile image

    Marie Giunta 7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

    I'm so grateful my kids are old enough now not to be invited to such parties, the competition was incredible. The expense, the prizes, everything was so over the top. I dreaded when I it came to their birthdays, how could I compete? Actually I didn't.

    You're so right with your comment "people are starving" so why spoil children so much.

  • GALAXY 59 profile image

    GALAXY 59 7 years ago from United Kingdom

    Hi Sofia, I'll be sure to check out your blog for idea's. Too late for my own children but for my, hopefully, soon to arrive grand kids.

  • profile image

    Sofia 7 years ago

    I agree - kids party ideas and themes are getting more and more expensive. (Anyone seen "My Sweet 16" on MYV!!!). But for younger kids parties do not have to be expensive - it is all about imagination, and applying the theme to every stage of the party. You can discover some great ideas at my blog Girl Birthday Party

  • GALAXY 59 profile image

    GALAXY 59 7 years ago from United Kingdom

    I know, the whole thing has really gone out of control in the last few years hasn't it.

  • RTalloni profile image

    RTalloni 7 years ago from the short journey

    Not only do parents compete with each other, but with do they top an over-the-top party next year? And what happens when the sweet sixteen rolls around...truly, "'tis a gift to be simple!"