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MANN: Should your child's birthday party break the bank?

Image Credit: SUBMITTED
April 19, 2018 - 11:59 AM

 


OPINION


Last weekend I went to a children’s birthday party.

My daughter kept telling me we were going to the porcupine’s birthday at the B.C. Wildlife Park.

Since becoming a mom, birthday parties are definitely now part of my social agenda…I’m not complaining.

I love birthday parties.

Generally people are happy, you get to watch your kids interact with other children, and there is cake — always a win for me.

But birthday parties have changed since the 80s and early 90s.

When I was growing up, most of the time you had a birthday party at home.

Activities included Pin the Tail on the Donkey, tie dying T-shirts and scavenger hunts.

Cake or cupcakes were always homemade (that’s not to say they couldn’t be homemade with the help of Betty Crocker), and if you were lucky, you might have ended up with a money cake — gross.

Decorations were a lot of DIY projects (but they looked like DIY projects) and your choice of coloured streamers.

Gifts were fairly basic — a Barbie doll or some type of sports equipment, and there was always that one little brother or sister who came to the party, devastated when they realized the gift had to stay!

Speaking of guests, you were expected to invite everyone in your class to your birthday so no one would feel the utter devastation of being left out.

Today, things in the world move a little quicker, we are all a little more connected to a whole bunch of information, and birthday parties specifically are a lot more elaborate.

People are working, coordinating activities, volunteering, etc., but come rain or shine, the birthday party is going to happen.

So I am left wondering: What are the logistics of a birthday party today?

There are trampoline gyms, laser tag, parks and pools for rent if you want to avoid the cake crumbs and foot prints, or if you just don’t have the space to entertain. And if you want to host the party in the comfort of your own home but don’t want to run the Birthday Olympic Games, you can invite the entertainment in — Disney characters, clowns and face painting masters.

Cake is still an important piece of the birthday, but gone are the days of vanilla sheet cakes and a handful of sprinkles. Even the bedazzling is bedazzled now.

Decorations are coordinated and if you aren’t careful, costly!

Gifts are confusing. Some parents say, “Don’t buy my kid anything,” but then you know if you don’t, you might be the only one.

And I have no idea what the going rate is. No one should go into debt over a birthday present.

And can you still make your own gift?

Finally, the guest list. This is the one I have the biggest struggle with. Do you continue to practice inclusivity or have these complex, excessive parties abolished all the rules when it comes to invitations?

The good news is I'm not the only one trying to figure it all out. I am in good company. And I don't think birthday parties are going to become any less detailed anytime soon, so better to jump in with both feet and start taking notes.

— Becky Mann is a 30-something, red haired, mother of two, trying to navigate this life as best she can. She enjoys talking to people and discovering their stories. Still trying to balance her personal and professional life, she juggles work and play. In her spare time Becky can be found visiting with friends, spending time with her family and saving time by reading while walking. She knows there is so much more to come and is looking forward to the continued adventure.


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