Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Birthday Parties

Okay, so I don't want to start a mommy riot here on the blog, but what has happened to the birthday gift? You know the days of receiving a Barbie or coloring books and crayons?

I witnessed 4 birthdays this past weekend and most of them, including mine were big time events. At least - AT LEAST - $100 was spent on each.

I say that in jest because, I spent about that much before the party even started. And I have been guilty, way guilty, on spending too much time and money on these parties. So, this is not a post standing in judgement in anyway. It's more about me just wondering, that's all.

My wonderings here are more about how much is too much to spend on a birthday gift? How much is too little?

Now before I had 2 kids and before my 2 kids were invited to sometimes 3 parties in one weekend, I did spend about $20 on gifts. More on family. But now, I really try to keep it under $15. Am I spending too little? Am I spending too much? From the looks of the parties I went to last weekend, I am not spending too little.

One thing I love is to grab some awesome toys during after-Christmas sales and tuck them away for birthday gifts throughout the year. That saves a lot of money and I am able to give some really cool gifts.

Anyway, my son got some very nice gifts at his party this weekend and we are ever so thankful. Especially for Marble Run. My kids actually LOVE this game. Yeah, me too - with the marbles rolling around my living room floor.

Anyway, nice gifts.
Very generous.
It actually makes me feel bad. I mean, I really want kids to come and have fun, but not for my friends to have to shell out big bucks for gifts. But then I don't want my kids to miss out on the whole party and gifts funness either.

For two years in a row, I had gift free parties for my kids. Then they got old enough to really care and my mom made me feel so guilty for not having gifts for my kids. And really, people brought gifts anyway.

My friend had a book exchange party. That was cool. Each kid brought a gently used book and traded it for a new one. Another did a similar party, but we were instructed to bring our favorite new book and trade it. So, she didn't even have to buy goody bags and we left with a new book! Very smart.

Another had everyone donate to a cause that was special to their family. It was nice, but a bunch of moms were complaining about that because they felt forced into giving to a charity that was not their choice. Yes, they really were. Because, you know, it would be terrible to give to a charity that you were unfamiliar with.

So, what do you say?
What do you think the etiquette for birthday gifts is these days?
And do you think the birthday party is out of hand or do you think the pendulum is swinging back to more low key events?

Let's just grab a cup of coffee and talk this one out.


Sarah said...

Agh...I'm dreading this. We live in a really, really wealthy and expensive part of the country. People spend hundreds even thousands on parties. We were recently invited to a "cowboy party" complete with catering staff dressed in western attire and pony rides. Each of the kids got their picture taken when they arrived and it was put on a "Wanted" sign to mark their spot at the table. The birthday boy? He was turning 2.

So far we've been lucky, Sam is a July birhtday and a cookout has worked for us. However, as he gets older and goes to more of these elaborate bashes, I know he's going to want more.

I think it's sad. I don't think the kids have more fun than we had at the simple parties most of us grew up with. It turns into a show and a lot of stress and expense for the parents.

As for gifts? We keep it simple. I may be in the minority, but I firmly believe that it's the thought that counts.

Janel said...

Oh, this is how it has been for awhile now. It is just out of hand sometimes. I do see my circle of friends putting the breaks on it.

We also stopped the bigger parties with my daughter now that she is older. Just a couple friends over or out to eat.

And she LOVES that so much more because she actually gets to spend more quality time with each friend.

Keep it simple is my new motto!
I feel the same way about gifts.

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