Party Like a 5 Year Old?

Gone are the simple days of birthday parties in your basement, in a park for a BBQ or at the local McDonalds (the 80’s equivalent of Kobi beef sliders).

Here to stay are parties that are increasingly extravagant and expensive.  And even those parents who truly do not want throw a lavish bash are joining the masses, in an effort to keep up with their friends and family. I have a lot of friends with kids of various ages.  They have attended Carnival themed parties, fully outfitted with pony rides and a dunk tank (what the what ?!!), parties with food and ice cream trucks, a spa theme, a “make your own action movie” theme and the list goes on.

My nephew recently had a 7th birthday party at a entertainment complex where kids could enjoy laser tag, bowling, basketball and roller skating. I couldn’t help but ask my sister in law, however crass it might sound, how much it all cost (we are cool like that). She paid $45 per person and there were 15 kids invited.  I would be remiss to not include the loot bags, although the title hardly applies anymore.  They were cellophane wrapped kiddie swag bags filled with candy, toys, and books.  Add another $20 per kid and you have a birthday party that cost about $1000.  This is the average.

castle kids party swan

Being first generation Canadian, our social circle included families who had immigrated to Canada and whose children were also first generation.  My sister and I attended a birthday party when I was 6. When it was time to go, I was so excited to get my loot bag.  As the birthday girl was hanging them out, I realized she had made a terrible mistake, she had given me an empty bag.  Looking up and seeing the look of horror on my sisters face it dawned on me it wasn’t a mistake.  Years later I realized that her parents didn’t know any better (at least that’s what I tell myself).  Oh how times have changed…

A friend of mine is a Toronto based Event Planner.  I asked Mel about the largest budget she has a ever worked it. “15,000. And that doesn’t include the $20,000 of extensive renovations and landscaping completed in the backyard to accommodate swans and the $8000 kids play area specially constructed for the event.  There was also a valet and two nannies on hand.”

I am flabbergasted. And scared.  We don’t have children, but are planning to start a family.  Will I need to start a BPF (birthday party fund) along with an RESP? Will I also succumb to the pressure and have a huge carnival themed party at an entertainment complex filled with laser tag, pony rides, ice cream trucks and swans?

What is the craziest kids party you have ever attended? I am so curious to know!

6 thoughts on “Party Like a 5 Year Old?

  1. That is crazy!! What are we setting kids up for? Why do we feel inclined to spend that kind of money on a birthday party? So does that mean each year you have to outdo the year before? Imagine graduations and weddings!

    I can’t say I’ve been to a party like that–ever!

  2. Your post gave me a good chuckle. When my first child was three, I discovered the party events you are referring to. I couldn’t believe that people were spending $300 – 400 to have their kids’ parties at various locations. Why not just at home? So much more special I thought. And so for the next few years that is what I did. Home parties are great, but sooooooo much work. It became a 48 hour affair from the making the decorations, the cake, the cleanup, etc. I finally did a calculation and figured out that I was spending almost $200. By the time my third was on the way, I changed my tune. The $300 party at a bowling alley, a pottery store, a art studio, a cooking school etc. seemed like a small price to pay to just show up and have someone do all the work. But, I will say the most fun party one of my daughters had was when she turned 10. We had a spa party where four of my nieces came over and gave the girls pedicures and manicures. ($50 of supplies). I served chocolate covered strawberries ($20) and fruit kabobs ($20). The girls left with a loot bag filled with the spa supplies they used during their ‘treatments’. ($0). Less than $100 + happy kids = Priceless.

  3. OMG… That’s crazy! Are people feeling guilty because they don’t spend quality time with their kids anymore and think that by throwing this kind of birthday party, it makes up for it? Personally, I would rather host a small birthday party at home with some of my kid’s closest friends (not Facebook friends!) and give my kid a gift (that’s ONE (1) gift) and a $100 bill that he/she can donate to the charity of his/her choice. The last thing I would want is for my kid to start competing with his/her friends like that and grow up to be 1) entitled; 2) jealous of everyone; and 3) taking what he/she has for granted. Anyone can put a $1,000 birthday party on a credit card. To me, what cjames2015 did is a lot more important than spending money trying to continuously outdo the neighbours!

  4. It’s crazy what some people will do to make their kids ‘happy’ and appear as though they are excellent at parenting. There is a lot of pressure to keep up with the Jones’s these days. We recently had a birthday party for my 6 year old son. We debated having it at one of those fun zone places but decided to try the at home party and it was great. You don’t necessarily save money and it is a lot of work as stated above but I would do it again. We chose a Lego theme (because my son is Lego mad) and found the planning to be kind of fun and more personable. My son and his friends had a great time. We played games, ate, opened presents and then they went home. You can spend a lot of money and time on details that are unnecessary. My son just wanted to play with his friends.

  5. THIS IS INSANE. I remembering seeing children’s parties like this on TV, and I thought it was for the rich and famous only. But apparently everyone wants their kids to party like a rockstar. What ever happened to the humble parties where you eat pizza, cake, and ice cream, watch movies, and play boardgames?! That’s STILL my kind of party 20 years later. I don’t have children, but I hope if/when I do, this crazy fad phases out by the time they’re old enough to understand what’s going on.

    Relating this to social media, I do find the parents in my age group and the ones slightly older than myself (30s) are going all out for birthdays and Christmases for their little ones, only because I see it plastered all over Facebook. I can only imagine how much pressure that can put on the parents who maybe don’t have as much money to spend, but because this is the new norm, feel obligated to give as much to their kids as their “friend” gives to his/hers.

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