Thursday, February 11, 2010

Birthday Parties

So G's birthday was nearly a month ago and given tight finances that always seem to occur at this time of the year, we have not yet planned a party for her.

Actually, I was hoping she'd forget about it, but possessing a highly tenacious sort of personality, she has not. I have, therefore, been searching for some sort of option that isn't completely and utterly ridiculous in terms of price. Now some more frugally minded people may ask, "why not just have it at your house?" and I would nicely reply, "been there, done that, NO WAY!!!" Ever deal with ten preschoolers running wildly around your house while their moms stand chatting, oblivious to their kids sugar-crazed behavior? Not doing that again.

But oh how I hate the whole birthday party thing. You have the grandparents, silently wondering if our generation has all gone crazy for the making these celebrations into all-out, overdone events. You have the parents of our generation, getting completely sucked into the madness because everyone else is doing it to the point that it is a foregone conclusion. It becomes not, "are you?" but "where are you?"

You have the agony of the guest list - do you invite the whole class, thus upping the cost and the attendance numbers to a ridiculous level? Or do you only invite a few kids, risking hurt feelings by the excluded kids and, more often, their parents? If you do only invite a few kids, how do you keep the invited kids from chatting about it? And how do you avoid the ire of the teachers, who have to deal with shushing that chatter?

And then there's the question of, where does it stop? I told my girls that after age six, that's it for the parties. They could have a few friends over for a slumber party after that point, or I would pay for one or two friends to go skating. But I know plenty of parents who are perfectly happy to continue on with these massive celebrations every single year until their kids are 18. Really, when is enough enough?

And finally, there's the cost. For example, G wanted to have her party at Monkey Joe's, after attending a friend's party there. All fine and good, but the minimum weekday cost was something like $160. Though I know her friend's mother had a coupon, I could find no such offers to help us alleviate the financial burden. Really? $160 for a party room, cake, appearance by a huge monkey that reminded me too much of Peanut, one of the deranged puppets in comedian Jeff Dunham's show, and play time for what will likely amount to about six kids? I'm sorry, but I haven't completely lost touch with reality yet, and so I gently discouraged the idea. Gently meaning, sorry G, it just isn't going to happen, unless you happen to have a very full piggy bank sitting up in your room.

Most of the venues in our area run in the same price range, though, and so it becomes a $200+ endeavor once you figure in food, cake, and gift bags. It's ridiculous. And we're supposed to buy them presents on top of this cost? I can understand why my parents' generation thinks we're all nuts.

For G, I think we've finally settled on a pool party. Yes, it's February, but the fitness club we belong to and which I, conveniently, work at, has a huge indoor pool area, the cost is very reasonable, and I get a discount on top of it since I'm an employee. Since all of the kids we'll be inviting are strong swimmers, this is the best, and only, option. Since M had her birthday party at the outdoor pool in September, it was an easy sell to G, so I think we'll choose a date and get on with it. And hopefully, end this madness once and for all.

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