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Birthday Bash! February 22, 2011

Posted by frrobins in birthday parties, Memories, Parenting, Personal.
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I’m wondering when I’ll get to the point that I wish my son were younger rather than older. Right now I can’t wait till we get to the birthday parties. Above all I am planning for a fun time. There’s a park by my house that you can host a party at for free. There are four playgrounds, one of which is a water one and a covered pavilion for picnics. Though his birthday is in November and it will be too cold for the waterpark, November in Texas means it will probably still be warm enough for the slides and swings and picnic. I’d make a cake! Or may be my mom will make it because I’m not that great of a cook. For his first birthday, it would be family mostly. May be a few friends.

I guess I don’t dream big enough. I just learned that parents are spending thousands, like $50,000, for their precious darling’s first birthday! Or $30,000 for their little princess’ 6th one! Man, am I a cheapskate!

The thing I have to wonder when I see an article like this is how many people out there are actually holding extravagant birthday parties for their kids? Are there any solid numbers? Surely in a recession plenty of parents are scaling back. How many are holding extravagant parties vs how many are holding simple ones? What’s the average amount of money spent on a child’s birthday, and then what’s the mode (refresher in statistics, extreme numbers on either side of the scale can distort the average. That’s why it’s good to ask for the mode, which is the number that appears the most often, which in some cases gives you a better picture of what is really happening)?

I’m sure that throughout time there have always been parents who have thrown extravagant and expensive birthday parties. Is the number truly increasing? It’s hard to say. But it sure makes the news!

I’m not exactly the most social person around, so may be it’s not surprise that I’ve not been to an over-the-top party. And I’m glad, even if those parties did look like fun.

Because, amazingly, the birthday parties I had growing up were fun. And most of them involved swimming in our backyard pool with friends and eating a cake my mom baked or bought from Kroger, depending on how much time she had. Sans presents, the cost of the party probably didn’t go over $50, though I never bothered to ask. I certainly never felt neglected.

And I never felt like I had something to prove. My birthday parties were similar to those of my friends. We’d hang out and eat cake and the birthday girl would open presents. There was no pressure to outperform each other, no need to make sure that the party next year was even grandeur. While I can’t speak for my friends, I could look forward each year to having fun on my special day, and my biggest worry (and this one only when I became a teenager) was that I would look fat in my bathing suit.

I keep thinking back to my wedding. I did not have an extravagant wedding and did not want one. It did not top $10,000. Yet it was the most elaborate thing I had ever thrown. And it was stressful as hell! Seriously, I recommend eloping. While some people probably thrive off the planning, stress, and small talk with people that you barely know, I don’t. And I have to wonder how many kids thrive off it as well.

At any rate, I told my son that he better not expect anything more elaborate than a birthday party at Chucky Cheese when he gets older…and we’re not even going to rent it out for our own private use. Somehow, I think he’ll be just fine.