When did kids’ birthday parties become major household budgetary concerns? How did cake and ice cream with family and a few friends morph into extravaganzas that require extensive logistical, communication and expense forecasting? Honestly, it’s gotten to the point where a parent needs a planning staff similar to that which Eisenhower had for D-Day and a capital budget the size of the Department of Defense!
Think about it. The one-upsmanship involving birthdays amongst kids is too often bordering on the absurd! Perhaps it’s a “guy/dad” vs. “woman/mom”
clash of outlook, but there’s no denying the fact that when your child is
invited to one of these adolescent birthday coronations, mom usually feels
obligated to host a similar, or worse yet, even gaudier/expensive party than
the most recent mom did for her kid! Why? On the surface, it seems moms are in birthday competition with one another and nobody wants to finish in last place! In today’s gravel-road ride of an economy, budgeting necessary monthly expenses in addition to annual items such as life insurance, 401K/IRA contributions, vacations, summer camps, youth sports participation, Christmas gifts, etc. takes the skilled financial juggling of Smith Barney. Tossing a unbudgeted
birthday party of $300 or more into your monthly expense salad and you end up
with a deficit dressing all over your household budget spreadshirt, err;
And for what? Does Jimmy really need to take four friends to a major league baseball game for his 7th birthday, not including mom, dad, and sibling(s) and perhaps grandparents as well? That’s a minimum $300 outing! Explain to me the rationale behind Melissa being granted the privilege of hosting four friends at SeaWorld for the day? I can accept this for milestone birthdays, like ages 5, 10, 16, etc. , but not every year. Sure, I want my child to have fun and enjoy his/her special day, but I’d much rather host a few friends for cake, ice cream, and video games or sports at the park, and deposit $50 in Jimmy’s savings account in addition to a couple of presents.
I’m certain Jimmy would be very happy and content with such an
arrangement, and won’t take any heat from his peers for such a mundane
Go ahead and call me cheap or a parental, birthday version of Ebenezer Scrooge. I respectfully disagree. “Celebration sensible” and “fiscally
practical” are terms I’d prefer be used to describe my position on the birthday
triage that has become so prevalent in our middle class and up society. That’s just me, but I KNOW I’m not alone in my take. It’s a subject that’s only
discussed openly and without angst amongst dads. As for the moms………well, I can only hypothesize that if the subject is ever brought up, it’s debated only in
whispers and in select circles! What’s that cliché, men are from Mars and women from Venus? Case closed!