We need to talk about birthday parties.
When it comes to planning kids’ birthday parties these days, there seems to be only one rule: go big or go home.
My relationship with birthday parties was somewhat short lived. :( There was that one time we decided to throw a massive party for Tru and Kirsten in 2012; fast forward 3 years and we’re still recovering from that hangover. We’ve been on a party hiatus ever since because having to plan another party like that requires too much bandwidth, of which I have very limited quantities of these days. And the thought of doing 4 parties a year, that’s just too much madness I can’t even. So I guess you can say that me and birthday parties are kind of on a break. We’re not really speaking right now.
First, let’s get into the cost. For a basic no frills party, we’re talking easily $500 per pop. On the low side. $200 for the food/deserts, $150 for a standard 3D fondant cake, $50 for the decor, $50 for the goodie bags, and $50 for the program (pinata, some basic game props).
Additional something-somethings like a schmancy dessert table, balloon sculptor, magician, game host or marching band will run the bill up by another $300-$500.
And then there are the cool venues. Want to party with the horses (actually just 1 horse!) at Gallop stables? That’s $450 just for the horse and venue. How about a Frozen party (at the ice rink)? Upwards of $350 for a minimum of 10 kids. Indoor playgrounds range from $300-800, depending on the number of kids and general awesomeness of the party.
I love my kids and I’d do a lot to make them smile, including celebrating the heck out of the day they were born. But if I’m blowing $1k on a birthday party per child per year, that’s easily a trip to Melbourne or Tokyo or Maldives. And let’s see, 4 times the madness that is planning a blowout party versus a relaxing trip? Is this even a real question?? And perhaps more importantly, I’m not sure if having a formulaic party just because this is how everyone else does it will make them happier than say, a fun day out with us and a delicious cake that doesn’t have Elsa standing in front of a 3-tiered snow castle.
Kirsten’s birthday is around the corner and she asked if she could have a birthday party this year. Her request was very specific. She wanted to have it at an indoor playground, with a huge Elsa made of ice-cream (??), cake pops (I had to google what a cake pop was), blue and silver balloons, and horses (???).
I told her in the gentlest possible manner, “Ummm, no, sweetie.”
“How about this? I can do the balloons, and you can choose an Elsa cake, and we’ll have fun celebrating with your friends in school. And then we’ll do a special day out just for you – you can choose anywhere that you want to go and we’ll make it happen.”
“Anywhere?? And we can all go, daddy and you and kor kor and Finn Finn and Theo?” she asked, after a while.
She smiled. “Ok, yeah, that would be very super fun.”
on one of our non-birthday dates
Have I already said that these kids are the best?? Because they are.