Oh, Birthday Parties. How I love and loathe thee.
Really it’s not the birthday parties, but more like the expectations that surround said parties. First you have the party itself. Remember when we were kids and birthday parties were held at your house, or your local Chuck E. Cheese or McDonald’s? They were usually low key -affairs with family, friends and permission to just run amuck. Now, we are competing with parties featuring superheroes, princesses, inflatable villages, extreme make-overs, animal menageries, D-list celebs, etc. You name it, and if you’ve got the cash, you’ve got it.
Then there are the gifts. We are one of those families who really prefers NOT to receive gifts for birthdays. We love to throw parties and feel that the presence of our guests is gift enough. Plus, we live in a small apartment and there is just not a lot of room for more stuff.
(I am excluding family from this discussion, because I am not going to tell Grandma and Grandpa that they can’t send their grands gifts!)
But the thing is most of us love to GIVE gifts as well! I know I get a warm and fuzzy feeling inside when I see a loved one or friend open a gift!
So, I have come to the conclusion that if we have birthday parties… there will be gifts.
I ran across an article in a parenting magazine talking about a new trend in kids birthday parties. They are called “Dollar Parties” and, in my humble opinion, they seem just as gauche as the “Dollar Dance” at weddings. (For those of you whom I’ve just offended, because you had a Dollar Dance at your Wedding, sorry. Feel free to ignore my opinion. I can be a wench sometimes.) So the basic premise is this:
Instead of having your party guests bring gifts, they should bring X number of dollars for the birthday child. The amount of money given is based on the age of the child, i.e. a 5 year old would receive $5 from each guest, a 12 year old would receive $12 from each guest, etc. The article listed a number of pros: lower environmental impact, the birthday child can receive a gift of their own choosing and what they really want, guests do not have to agonize over if they are buying the “right” gift, etc.
Sure, when your kids are little that could work pretty well, but could you imagine yourself as a 16 year old with $320 in cash after having a party with 20 people? I guess to me, it’s like that Chase commercial that I’ve been seeing. It’s the one where a young man is celebrating his birthday and Grandma presents him with a card. He opens the card and there is nothing inside, so he gives Grandma this “look.” Grandma smiles and nods to his phone, where he has gotten a text alert stating that Grandma as sent him cash via Chase Mobile. And then they hug.
First time I saw that commercial, I went on a rant. Did that child not care that Grandma was there? Or was he only looking forward to Grandma’s cash? Where are we as a society?
So, same thing here… with things like extreme birthday parties, Dollar Parties, and money galore. Are we teaching our kids that the only reason to have friends over is not to celebrate another year of life, but to get stuff… or cash?
- Happy (Belated) Birthday, to my little Dragonfly!
- Happy Birthday 4th Birthday to my little Bear!!
- Manners Monday: ‘Buy Crap’ Parties and the all-important RSVP
- Wordless Wednesday: Happy First Birthday, Dragonfly and Happy Birthday, Blessed Mother!
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