It’s my daughter’s party and I’ll cry about the cost if I want to

I’m planning my daughter’s birthday party right now, and let me tell you how much I hate it.

I hate it because I have to spend, what I consider to be, an unreasonable sum of money. This year, we’re going to a pottery painting place, and it will cost me close to $200.

Before you call me a bad mom and then call Social Services, hear me out. It really pisses me off because this money is not being spent for my daughter, necessarily. It’s for other parents. There is a great deal of pressure now on parents – of any income bracket – to plan a Party To Remember. Or at least one that other parents will remember, so that when it comes time to plan their own kid’s bash they suddenly find themselves booking bouncy castles and elephant rides for 25 ungrateful little brats

Don’t think this pressure is real? Check out this excerpt from a story that ran in the Globe and Mail in October last year:

…Birthdays Without Pressure, a parent-led group based in St. Paul, Minn., says more parents are outsourcing birthday parties because they’re time-squeezed, and are continuing to raise the bar for parties in their community because they’re competitive.

Research released in May by Lumos, a U.K. children’s charity, found 40 per cent of the 500 parents interviewed admitted to feeling pressure to organize more extravagant birthday parties.

~ Marlene Habib

Gross. It’s just a bunch of parents playing Keep up With the Jones’s, when they should be playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey. And sadly, I find myself one of them. Even though I have no business trying to keep up with anyone…if I don’t plan one of these extra special parties, I will feel as though I am somehow depriving my daughter of happy childhood memories.

Except that the only parties I remember from my childhood were all vaguely the same, and very low budget. The birthday girl’s mom invited all the other girls from the class. (This was rural Saskatchewan, so there were nine girls in total. Until Grade 5 or so, we all went to each other’s birthday parties. No exceptions.) There was TV-watching, present-opening, yard-running, barn-playing, cake-eating, and then sleeping bag-unravelling. We stayed over, and then our parents picked us up in the morning. The only costs incurred were the ingredients to a home-made cake, and a few bucks in ground beef for the inevitable burgers.

I am not nostalgic for a time when I would’ve been expected to bake a cake. (To quote my Auntie Marj: “I may not have made that cake, but I made the money that made that cake.”)

However, I am nostalgic for a time when all a parent had to pay for a birthday party was a headache  – the direct result of a sleepless night of giggles combined with the fumes from an industrial-strength cleaner to get the barf stains out of the shag rug.

Ah, the good old days.

~

UPDATE: I found this photo from one of my birthday parties. Those are my sisters, Erin and Shannon, and my cousins, Curtis and Ross. Are we not the cutest kids you’ve ever laid eyes on? Besides that, notice the low-budget homemade cake. The ballerina in the middle probably cost about $1. That’s the most my parents likely spent on the entire party for me. (Also, which shirt do you think is more rad? The Thriller shirt that Curtis is wearing, or the more local Otter Lake shirt that I’m wearing?)

~HS

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5 thoughts on “It’s my daughter’s party and I’ll cry about the cost if I want to

  1. Angela Dillon says:

    I enjoy beating the system of Jones parties by being creative and off-beat… the best party I had for my daughter was a Used Book Party. The kids brought 10 books they were tired of and picked up 10 new books from their friends. They came dressed as their fave book characters and we played writing games. I bought them each a book bag from the dollar store (at two bucks each, it was a no-brainer) and decorated the bags with their names in craft paint. The Moms were thrilled, the kids went mental over their new books and I hardly spent a thing.
    Don’t give in!! Invite an artist to your place, spend 20 bucks on clay you could buy at the art store and save the rest. You could kiln at any number of places!

    • cashgab says:

      So what you’re saying is that instead of whining, I need to get creative…
      This is a great idea. I’ve already sent out invites for the party so I’m a little late on this year.
      Next year, I am taking your advice!

  2. Karolyn says:

    Hey,
    We should’ve connected much sooner. How is it we still haven’t found the time to chat?! I’m sorry. We did a stay at home “Cake Boss” party and the girls loved it. Fondant is cheap to make: icing sugar and marshmallows, a little food colouring and hours of fun! We also did celeb makeovers one year: props, posing and a little luck! The girls had fun making each other look like their assigned star (chosen by me for optimal success:)), giggled a lot and the only mishap was a bit of mascara on the carpet. Not bad! Keep it in mind for next year! We stand by a less expensive, stay at home party and actually engaging with each other rather than being wowed by something materialistic. I’m totally boycotting the grade 2 spa parties… What the heck?!
    KG

    • cashgab says:

      Grade Two Spa Parties!?!?! You have to be joking. I can barely afford a trip to the spa myself. Not going to pay for a bunch of little girls to go. I love your ideas. I clearly needed to talk to the smart women in my life before I planned this party.

  3. Brent says:

    So, what happened to inviting the other kids over and playing Mario Party or Smash Bro’s until we all had seizures? The most fivolous part was the years we maybe got a Dairy Queen ice cream cake.

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