Birthday Party Overload...Birthday Party Overload...

Kids' birthday parties are getting out of hand! In today's celebrity-obsessed, competitive hyper-parenting atmosphere, we are spending thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars on kids' parties. What happened to cake, ice cream and pin the tail on the donkey?

I just finished throwing my son a party for his 5 th birthday, and I'm wiped. I tried to keep it simple by having it at home, yet I still feel as if I threw a small wedding reception, and I've got the receipts to prove it. My first mistake? Inviting about 15 kids, which sounds manageable, until you remember that each of those kids brings one or two parents each and maybe a sibling. Add in family and neighbors, and 15 kids quickly multiplies into a party of 50. Now, you've got to feed, hydrate and entertain 50 people. Yikes!

Our party was not over the top. We had a bouncy house, pizza, fruit…and Jedi Training. But when you factor in party favors, rental chairs and tables, cake, plates, it all adds up. For this 2 hour extravaganza, I spent over $500. Which is just about the going rate if you shop around, for food, entertainment and play activity. ou'd think that having it at home would save you some money, but you would be wrong. It seems that regardless of where you throws a kids' party, it will always end up costing around $500. Crazy!

When I was a kid, birthday parties consisted of a theme. Like "dress up as your favorite movie character". (I created my own "Flashdance" outfit with glitter glue and scissors) My mom had me pick which games I wanted to play and prizes were given for Pin the Tail on the Donkey, egg races, and maybe a water balloon toss. Supplies were purchased in one single trip to the discount party store. The party consisted of games, opening presents, cake, ice cream and that was it. There were no expectations of anything else, and my friends' parties were the same. Sometimes they were at the skating rink. Sometimes we swam in someone's pool. Sometimes we made ice cream sundaes.

My mom's generation really kept it simple, and now I get why: because as much fun as it was to have a party as a kid, it's a whole lot of work for the parents.

I think it's RIDICULOUS what parents spend these days to throw kids' birthday parties…myself included. Will he even remember this? Will he expect something like this EVERY year? I don't know if we can sustain this kind of birthday pressure!

I admit it. I fell into the birthday party pressure, and this year, and I caved. I am a tired working mother who just wanted someone else to entertain my kid and his friends for his birthday party. Seeing him light up as he bounced in that bouncy house, full of cake and pizza with all his little friends was a memory worth every penny we spent.

But next year, we're scaling way back. Retro-style. It's pin the tail on the donkey and egg races all the way. And maybe a piñata if Mommy is feeling fancy. :)

Do you cave in to birthday party pressure? How do you save money when it comes to throwing birthday parties?

-Diane Mizota, Host of This Week in M.O.M


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