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The Last Birthday (Party)

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Beth Falkenstein: New mothers beware! There is a plot against you to drain your wallets, make you resent your friends, and remind you on a regular basis that you are no longer as young as you once were. I'm talking, of course, about the children's birthday party industry.

moms empty wallet at girls birthday party
Oh sure, at first, these are simple affairs involving a cake and a clown. But from there begins a never-ending, slippery slope that only the strongest can resist. It goes something like this: One day your three-year-old gets an invitation to a classmate's party ... at Chuck E. Cheese! You match that Chuck E. Cheese party with a fete at Build-A-Bear, only to have another mother see your Build-A-Bear and raise you a laser tag affair with a karaoke chaser. Then, of course those Oriental Trading party favors can't possibly compete with personalized charm bracelets from Claire's, so you're off to Aahs, where the latest Webkinz has been debuted. Pretty soon, you're treating 20 nine-year-olds to a day at Disneyland, where they get a private audience with Mickey while Captain Jack Sparrow personally serves them chili dogs imported directly from Coney Island.

Maybe that wouldn't be so bad if once they turned 10, they came to you and said, "Mother, I have decided I'm too old for those childish parties. Please save your money, or better yet -- go buy yourself a present for having given birth to me all those years ago." But they don't.

Last year, my daughter came to me with elaborate plans for her thirteenth birthday. I told her that I was really hoping we could cut back and maybe have just a small celebration with two or three close friends from now on.

"But Sarah is having this really big party, with a DJ and balloons and a fancy dress!" she countered.

"That's because it's her bat mitzvah," I explained. "I'm sorry we're not Jewish."

"Me, too," she pouted.

I breathed a sigh of relief. Perhaps I'd found a way off the merry-go-round. Until ...

"Mom? Do you have to be Jewish to have a Sweet Sixteen?"

"Yes," I told her.

The first one of you to tell her any different will not be invited to the party!

next: Health Care Scam Revealed
5 comments so far | Post a comment now
Annette August 29, 2009, 6:13 AM

Very cute … and very true!

ame i. August 29, 2009, 3:26 PM

My daughters (9 & 11) have realized that by having only 2 or 3 of their best friends come out to dinner with us and stay overnight means we can buy them a more expensive gift ;)

Anonymous August 29, 2009, 7:34 PM

Attention wimpy parents: JUST SAY NO!!!

ame i. August 30, 2009, 7:29 PM

Hm, JUST SAY NO. I think Anon is onto something here :)

chris August 31, 2009, 6:59 AM

With both of my kids, I stopped having the huge family and friends parties when they turn 5 and then at age 8, I told them they could invite up to 4 kids for a sleepover and pizza (plus cake and ice cream) This is so much easier on me and them. And for the record, I hate when my kids get “goodies bags” so I don’t give them out. Who needs one more pencil or junk candy.

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