Overspending on kids

We attended a birthday party over the weekend where the room looked like a unicorn threw up. Seriously, the theme was everywhere ~ napkins, cups, plates, balloons, cake, etc. I commented on it to one of the other Moms and she said that the birthday girl got to look through the Birthday Express catalog and pick out what she wanted. I know how expensive BE is so I was surprised (though I did very good about not showing it!).

The bithday invite came in the form of an email to one of the other Moms in my kids’ gymnastics class. The entire class was invited and the party was held at the gymnastics place. It was a lot of fun, gymnastics always is. The invite also said no gifts please, but if you feel you have to books or craft supplies are nice.

I read that as no gifts please and that is that. I know there are people out there who feel obligated to always give a gift, but I am not one ~ especially since the parents flat out wrote they didn’t want gifts given.

We arrived to a table full of gift bags. I had a moment of panic (oh no are we the only ones who didn’t bring something?) and then that was it. We made a nice handmade card and wrote a note inside, which is fine. I’ve already decided that if we are still here for my kids birthdays, I am going to say no gifts but if you feel you have to please donate to ___ (I haven’t picked what yet). My kids have a lot. We have a huge house and the loft is full an it’s overwhelming to the kids because there are so many.

I am glad there were no gift bags at the end. I don’t like the idea of gift bags – I was raised to believe that birthdays were a special day simply for that person. There are a few clusters of birthdays in my family – this coming week being one – where we have more then one (and even several) people having birthdays on/around the same day. We never did gift bags because you knew the day was about the birthday kid.

I’ve been shocked at just about every birthday party I’ve attended in the past five or so years. The amount of money spent is amazing, the attempt to be structured is incredible, the over the top-ness of it all is odd. I wonder who people are trying to impress? Is it done to impress? What is the purpose?

The last birthday party I threw we cooked food, had a blow up house borrowed from a friend, sat outside on a warm day and gossiped, visited, ate and watched kids run around. Gifts were appreciated and kids had a great time. I intend to keep up that trend and wish that others would simplify their own parties.

After talking with a few friends, I was led to a google search about parenting proteseting out of control birthday parties and found this site Birthdays Without Pressure. Check it out. There are stories from other people as well as ideas of how to keep your party under control. I have no intention of ever changing how I throw birthday parties and hope my friends don’t feel pressure to create something bigger and bigger (and thus more expensive!) every time.

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