Birthday parties are a piece of cake


It was the use of the phrase “party circuit” that finally put me over the edge. The phrase was used in conjunction with the word “birthday” as in, “Are you doing the birthday party circuit?”
The term used to explain that any self-respecting modern child must first have their “actual birthday day party” with cake and presents from immediate family followed by their “class party” whereby they take treats into class.
This culminates In a blow-out “theme” party for the child’s invited friends at a venue sure to impress other parents and/or break the bank.
Excess. Clearly, the days of warm party punch in Dixie cups and a cupcakes homemade by the “birthday mom” are long past. Now you’ve got to really put your thinking cap on (and credit card on the line) to plan the “perfect” birthday party.
Examples of over-the-top birthday party madness include: a $250,000 birthday party in Florida for a 7-year-old girl, with limos, a grand ballroom, helicopter rides, horses and wild animals.
There was a simultaneous “adult party” with an open bar for guests.
Not to be outdone, a New York father threw a $10 million party for his 13-year-old daughter’s birthday, including the iconic rock band Aerosmith. The poor judgment implied in allowing any member of Aerosmith anywhere near your 13-year-old daughter notwithstanding, I think I’d need an open bar to make it through any of the aforementioned with a straight face.
Granted, we peasants aren’t much better. Examples abound of perfectly average parents going completely insane in pursuit of decorated honors in the birthday party wars: one party invitation requested gifts worth at least $35. The mother defended her choice saying that in previous years her child received some gifts worth “only $10,” which did not even cover her costs.
Worse, it is reportedly becoming somewhat common for picky party guests to wait for confirmation of what will be in the “goody bag” that guests take home before accepting an invitation to a friend’s party.
So much so that more than once, young partygoers, disappointed by parties without gift bags, have been reported to declare: “This is a rip off!”
Finally, even in so-called “middle class” households, it is becoming somewhat an “in” thing to have children as young as 7 picked up by stretch limos to transport them to a party.
Seriously? Stretch limos for prom I understand, but do you really need a designated driver for a second-grade shindig?
Edge. Obviously, I’ve lost my competitive edge, because while the media writes of a strong feeling among Generation X parents that the better the birthday party, the better the parent, I’m just not feeling it anymore.
Sure, I went overboard for a few years. There was the memorable “baby’s first birthday” where I somehow thought it would be “fun” to invite 60 relatives over DURING NAPTIME and force my sobbing 1-year-old to sit and open gifts. Ah, sweet memories. The photos could easily be entered into evidence in a Child Protective Services hearing.
Undaunted, I would play on some variation of this “It seemed like a good idea at the time (but clearly wasn’t)” no less than eight more times.
What can I say? I’m not exactly quick on the uptake.
So what does my precious remember of his first nine birthday celebrations? Does he remember the dump truck cake and enormous backhoe sandbox from his first birthday?
His response: “What sandbox?”
How about the beloved Disney characters on EVERYTHING short of the wallpaper and he and his


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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.