April 20, 2008

Far Too Much To Spend on a Children's Party

CNN has a story about extravagant birthday parties for children that made me shake my head.
(LifeWire) -- Two years ago, Stephanie Kaster of Manhattan set out to plan the birthday party of a lifetime for her daughter. Granted, little Sophie didn't have many parties under her belt with which to compare it: She was not yet 3.

"I just thought, 'If I go to another paint-a-ceramic-bowl or stuff-a-bear party, I'll shoot myself,'" says Kaster.

So she booked a fondue restaurant, hired a musical troupe to perform as the Wiggles (her daughter's favorite group) and ordered a four-layer cake. Each guest took home a Fisher-Price guitar and custom CD.

The price tag? $5,000.

"I couldn't believe that I'd ended up spending that much," Kaster says.

I am well familiar with the challenges and costs involved of throwing a child's birthday party, but there are limits and then there is the realm of the ridiculous. The example above is ridiculous.

Let's ignore whether the birthday girl needs so much extravagance and deal with what she will remember from the party. The answer is that it is unlikely that she'll remember anything. Sure, there may be pictures and or video memories, but...

What lessons are we teaching our children. I haven't any problem with the idea of renting a room/facility somewhere, provided that you can afford it, but this over the top stuff is ridiculous.

Out here in L.A. I'd say that the average cost of a birthday party for a young child is somewhere around $500.00 or so. That includes a kid's facility (gym, indoor playground) and a couple of their staff, around 20-25 kids, cake and a pizza lunch.

Now I suppose that to some people that my own example sounds ridiculous as well. In theory I'd say that it would be great to throw a party in my own home. There are a couple of issues. One is size and the the other is that the kids are going to wreck my house and then I'll spend a huge chunk of time cleaning up after they're gone.

More than that, it is probably going to cost at least $300.00 to have it my house. If I can come up with the difference I take care of a number of things including entertainment and fear of children wrecking my home.

The good news is that in our school around the time kids turn 7 or 8 the group parties disappear and it turns into a much more manageable gathering of three to four good friends.

Related link:

Gifts For The Children of The Obscenely Rich


Sheffy said...

I used to throw all my childre's parties at home. My mum did the same for us. If you read my blog you will see what a disaster I once had!

Leora said...

On a positive note, at least the money for the band, restaurant and the cake are supporting the American economy. The Fisher-Price guitar is probably supporting the Chinese economy.

That party was really for the mother.

V-Grrrl said...

It's not just the birthday parties. When did Valentines Day turn into an event that rivaled Halloween in candy collection? It used to be just cards, then it was cards with a lollipop or chocolate attached, then some overachieving mom sent in goody bags for each kid in class and set a new standard. It's nuts.

My 10-year-old started a book club. At the first meeting, I had drinks and Chex mix for the girls to munch but another mom sent soft drinks, boxes of bakery cookies, plus goody bags for all girls to take home. She did this without asking me what I had planned.

It's a book club! Not a party. I did appreciate her generosity and her consideration of how she might make hosting the meeting easier on me, but gosh, every gathering of kids does not need to be a CELEBRATION.

Jack said...



That party was really for the mother.

That happens far too often. Parents need to remember who the party is for and why.

but gosh, every gathering of kids does not need to be a CELEBRATION.

You are right. I am concerned about what kind of message we are sending to our children. Where are the values.

Sheffy said...

Are parents simply trying to out do each other? What happened to parties at home with games?