Back in the day birthday parties were all about another year older, some cake, making a wish and opening a handful of presents. As with everything these days, bigger is better, over the top is the norm, and price is no concern.
I thought my parents always spoiled us with constant celebrations, maybe $50 worth of gifts and a party at the house. In today's society that could be considered child abuse.
I've paid the price for the ultracool birthday parties for my oldest, and we have been to many ultracool parties. The cash dropped on some of these parties for kids is obscene. I want my children to be just as happy as the next, but dropping $300 on a party PLUS a birthday present PLUS a gift bag to thank kids for coming to my child's party is something I am totally over already.
My 3-year-old has yet to have a party with his friends.
Goodie bags—love 'em or hate 'em? Tell us in the comments below.
My parties as a kid would include MAYBE two colors of streamers, some home-blown balloons, a pizza, cake, and one or two games. I think I recall a lame prize being given for the winner of each game. The favor bag usually included a hat and a noisemaker.
These days one of the most exciting parts of going to parties for kids is finding what's in the goodie bag. It's not even the guest kids' birthday. Why should they be getting a bag of anything? They are already getting a supervised, paid-for trip to Monkey Joe's, bowling, skating, Putt-Putt or some other supercool place that will include pizza, cake and a drink.
But not providing a goodie bag could actually result in a meltdown and completely inappropriate behavior from a guest because it has become expected. The worst part is the goodie bag is usually overpriced CRAP—stupid bulk-item toys that break as soon as you touch them.
The scene from a parent's point of view after picking up a child from a "birthday event" goes as follows:
Your child is cracked out from all the sugar and adrenaline from running wild like an animal with 200 of their animal friends in a place that couldn't possibly contain enough clean oxygen for normal brain activity, much less an immune system to fight off.
Your child is strapped into the car, already fighting the containment.
The child is digging through the goodie bag, swallowing candy whole and probably drooling in some bright, God-awful color that will surely stain the face and clothing.
Then your child pulls out the 10-cent crap toy. and it breaks within 20 seconds. That's when all hell breaks loose in the car.
As a parent, you are trapped in a moving vehicle with a screaming, crying fit-thrower who is close to foaming at the mouth. Then the blubbering, begging and demanding start for this 10-cent toy to be replaced. WHAT???
You all know our grandparents are shaking their heads in shame at what we are allowing our children to get away with.
We are entrusting our futures to this overly spoiled generation of little people. Clearly I'm more devoted to the old-fashioned "less is more" theory.
Don't get me wrong: My children have more than 10 kids could ever need, and there are many things I want them to experience and do. But I also have a high expectation that they value and appreciate everything.
To me, birthdays are "holy days," so to speak, to celebrate the day YOU were born. YOU are the prince or princess that day, and YOU are the one to open presents and be the center of attention. Having mass parties where you are shuffled in and out with three or four other parties at the same time takes the focus off YOUR day.
Again, these are just my opinions. With today's rage over Pinterest and other do-it-yourself sites, I'm hoping for an explosion of creative parties to be the new rage.
I can promise no goodie bags at future parties I throw. Not because I don't totally appreciate your child coming to my child's party, but because I'm trying to simplify life so that it's more enjoyable and less stressful. And, of course, I'm on a one-woman mission to spare all other parents from the after-party meltdown when the favors break!