Monday, February 28, 2011

Happy Birthday

I love birthdays. I may not want to tell you how many candles are on my cake, but I love the concept of celebrating another year of living. Comes from my childhood when my Mom, the original Evelyn, would let me invite every kid in my class for my party, with little paper cups filled with candies at each place setting. We played pin the tail on the donkey, opened the presents, ate the cake, and everyone went home fuller and happier.

But better than celebrating my own birthday, I love making merry for family and friends. I know that at times during my kids' childhoods, I was tempted to work out a deal with the party guests: I meet you at the car with a cupcake and goody bag, you fork over the gift and we call it a day. But that was my occasional cynical side popping out of hiding.

The truth is I'm a sucker for kids' birthday parties: the themes, the cake that complements the theme, the party activities, even the goody bag items. I remember baking a cake in the shape of a soccer ball for my goalie seven year old, then having the kids play a game of soccer in the local park. Treat items were all English football related. For another of my kids, I made a Pac-Man cake with little ghosts; and for a special two year old party, I created a Big Bird cake whose feathers were sliced up lemon Chuckles candies.

So after four kids and countless parties, I thought I knew the scoop on entertaining the under-8 set. If they had a little too much sugar, I was reassured by the knowledge that their parents would have to deal with them, because birthday parties were limited to 90 minutes – tops.

Little did I realize that there is now a whole industry devoted to kids birthday parties – and the amounts to be made at these shindigs is almost enough for me to give up this writing gig. A recent report from ABC News, described the over-the-top birthday party Tori Spelling gave for her son's third birthday. Now given that Tori grew up in Spelling Manor, the largest home in Los Angeles County with 123 rooms, I am not surprised that the concept of "less is more" is not on Tori's radar screen.

But apparently there are enough "normal" folks that are going bonkers and broke over their kids' parties that there is now a new TLC reality show called, appropriately, "Outrageous Kids Parties." One set of parents threw a fairytale party for their little six-year-old princess. Hey, I can imagine this. What I can't conceive of is the 42 center pieces, 2000 flowers, 300 costumes, and a spa day for the six year old before the party. Budget for this extravaganza? $32,000.

I got married for less. What are these parents planning for the seventh birthday – skydiving for the class in Hawaii? Is there no sense of proportion? Any concept that such excess teaches every self-centered lesson in the book? That even if you have the money to afford such stupidity, you need to have the good sense not to spend it this way.

I don't need to tell you, Stiletto Faithful, that this is foolish, almost immoral in terms of waste. We all want to create lovely memories for our kids – and even for ourselves. I still feel good about those special days in our kids lives. But we know that racing up and down a makeshift soccer field with ten friends, then blowing out the candles and sitting around with these same friends telling bathroom jokes as only a seven year old can enjoy – those are the memories that last and warm you even when there are ten times the number of candles on the cake.

Marian, the Northern Half of Evelyn David

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

The Sullivan Investigation Series
Murder Drops the Ball (Spring 2011)
Murder Takes the Cake- Paperback - Kindle
Murder Off the Books- Paperback - Kindle
Riley Come Home (short story)- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords


  1. $32,000 for a child's birthday party? I'm speechless!

  2. Marian, is it your birthday? If so, happy birthday! (I don't want to miss wishing you a fabulous, healthy, and happy year ahead! And many more!) I can't imagine spending $32,000 on a kid's birthday party! That's insane! Kids don't care about "stuff"--until we teach them to, that is--so it's foolish to blow that much on their parties. All it boils down to is superficial adults wanting to impress other superficial adults. I think those "Outrageous Kids' Parties" parents and the "Toddlers and Tiaras" parents should all meet at the psychiatrist's office to straighten themselves out before they mess up their kids beyond fixing!

  3. That's a bit much for a child's birthday party; heck I don't spend more than $50 for my day.

  4. Well, I celebrated 29 years yesterday the 27th of February. I can remember the little birthdays parties I had when I was a child, not only mine but it was so much more than that when I was child. Not only did all the kids from your class come but all the children in the neighborhood came. We didn't spend a lot of money, we didn't have a lot of money to spend, but we sure had fun. The games, the cookout food, and the sweets.

    It amazes me the waste, as you called it, that goes into celebrity parties and functions. It is absolutley a whole other subject and most definitely not enough space for me to even go on about.

    Happy Birthday