If you want to make yourself really sick, go to this page of the San Francisco Chronicle and read the story of the first episode of a TLC television program called "Outrageous Kid Parties." This is not a show that I intend to watch, especially after seeing the two brief videos that are posted on the web page along with the article.
In this kick-off episode, the mother of a six year old girl spends ... THIRTY TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS to throw a ... well, "lavish" hardly seems a proper word ... party for her daughter's sixth birthday.
The party started with spending $3,000 for hand made invitations made to look like medieval scrolls, delivered by the guest of honor's older brother, who, for a mere $100, dressed as a jester to make the deliveries.
The little girl arrives at her party in a horse-drawn carriage that looks like Cinderella's pumpkin chariot and she is accompanied by her friends, who are all dressed in what looks like baby wedding garb.
There is a troup of dancers who perform and I don't know what else (because I only watched the brief film clip) and the child of the hour seems to be having a great time until they bring in the birthday cake, which is at least three times taller than any cake I ever baked when I was doing cakes. I didn't look closely, but it may have been a duplication of the Cinderella castle in Disneyland. But at the top of this gargantuan cake was a life size bird, which I imagine was fashioned out of cake and gum paste and which looked not only life size, but life LIKE. When the little girl saw it, she burst into tears because the bird was purple and it was supposed to be blue.
This would hit me wrong at any time, but on the day after I heard from Fred that they spent the family's Christmas present on rice so they could bury his little sister just made it that much more disturbing. Fred is an about-to-be 8 year old who has never had a birthday cake because his family can't afford it. (I'll bet HE wouldn't cry if a damn cake bird was the wrong color!)
$32,000 is an amount of money I can't even fathom spending for a child's party. Obviously these people are rich enough to afford it (though the article says that the mother tried to lie to her husband and let him know the party only cost $15,000), and who am I to tell rich folks how to spend their money. But...$32,000...????
We have had lots of parties, some of them quite good, if I do say so myself, and none of them came in at even triple, let alone quintuple digits. We had a Star Trek party for Tom's birthday one year where I made a tribble cake and cut out Spock ears for "Pin the Ears on Spock" and made cloth tribbles that they could throw at Klingons. Nobody complained that it wasn't fancy enough.
There was the Tom Sawyer party for Ned, where I let the kids paint the back fence with tempura paint and then strip and play in the wading pool. It was the perfect idea, with lots of mess and no complaints abouat clean up, until I found out that tempura paint soaks into wood grain. I think the stuff they painted on that fence was still there when we sold the house.
We used the nursery school to do a pirate party where the kids got head scarves for a party favor and they did things in the playground like digging for chocolate "dubloons" as buried treasure. They wore eye patches and carried cardboard swords, walked the plank and said "arrrghh" a lot.
For Jeri's birthday one year, I taught the girls how to make sugar eggs (the kind that you build scenes inside and then look through a hole to see the scene). Everyone had a great time and I think that replacing the linoleum with Pergo finally got rid of the last of the sugar on the floor. But it was great fun.
We had a Superheroes party for Ned on year and I made a Superman cake and all the games were geared toward super heroes.
We had scavenger hunts and pizza parties, where each guest got to build his/her own pizza. Once in awhile we took a group to a real pizza parlor, but mostly we did things at home that were fun and didn't cost a mint.
I know kids' parties aren't like that now, but I don't see the need to put yourself into hock or to play the game of one-upsmanship just for a child's birthday. I would rather see children appreciating what they have and not crying because the damn bird on the multi-thousand dollar cake was the wrong color.