Sunday, March 9, 2014

Missing the Birthdays of Yore

I came across this on Pinterest:


This a birthday party for Max (whoever Max is). I have to admit, it sort of creeps me out. Maybe it's because this looks more like a memorial to me than a birthday. But I think it's more the fanciness of the whole thing. The giant wooden name, the flowers, the framed picture (just in case you forget what Max looks like)...wow.

Once I stumbled upon Max's party, I started noticing them all over the place. These super-fancy parties. And we're talking KIDS birthday parties. Which begs the question: When did children's birthday parties become so formal and glamorous? I mean, these are very pretty. Hats off to the parents who deemed their child worthy of such extravagance--that is one very valued kid. But there seems to be a trend now to design parties that are geared more to impressing the adults than entertaining the kids. Some might argue that stuff like this only exists on Pinterest--"It's just to oogle over, but no one actually does this in real life." Or maybe it's only wealthy parents throwing such parties. But I have to say that I'm actually seeing this trend out in the middle-class world. With a few exceptions, the birthday parties I have been to in the past few years have been pretty excessive. One party I went to awhile ago, for example, was done in a "Vintage Barbie" theme, with themed food, coordinating colors (even the marshmallows were died to match), and an extravagant display of goodies spread along a buffet-style table. Kind of like this, but done in greens and blacks and much prettier:


The little girl being celebrated by this party was turning two years old, so she will have no memory of all this awesomeness other than the album her mom posted on Facebook.

I don't know...I think these kinds of parties are sort of tragic. For my childhood birthdays, my parents would throw out some pizza, blast the music, and us kids would dance and play like wild little banshees. It was unadulterated, unscripted fun. But guests today have to tiptoe through modern-day kids' birthday parties. It's all "Okay boys and girls, now it's time to play pin the curls on Barbie" and "Now let's all open our glitter-fashion bags." Can kids still have fun at these events? Sure. But it's very staged, temperate fun. They'll never get that adrenaline rush that comes with "just letting go."

Maybe I'm just a lazy mom trying to justify her reasons for NOT putting more effort into her kids' birthday parties. That's definitely a possibility. But it honestly seems like these kinds of parties are designed by moms for the explicit purpose of getting their guests to ooh and awww over their creativity and brilliance. They're designed more for Pinterest and Facebook than the child herself. The irony? All that time and money invested in putting together a picture-perfect party, and here's all a kid really wants:


Seriously. Just order them some pizza, blast some music, and let them make some real memories.