If you are a parent, you know where I am coming from. I have two kids and attending birthday parties is also one of the important things to do in my social calendar. Over the years I have seen birthday parties grow in grandeur and prominence. While I have nothing against people wanting to celebrate the birth of their child, there needs to be some rationalism when it comes to how big the event should be, especially if it is turning out to be a race rather than a fun event.

Birthday Parties – A new way to compete?

I have two kids, one a Tween and another just out of toddler group. While the younger one, by virtue of being a boy and someone who does not make too many friends, isn’t crazy about birthday’s or the grandeur of it, the older one is the exact opposite. She is someone who is quick to make friends, and because of that has attended a lot many birthday parties as compared to the younger one.

As typical parents, we celebrated both their 1st birthday’s in a grand manner. Later as my daughter started realizing how big the whole phenomenon could be, she wanted a similar birthday. She wasn’t totally wrong, I mean she was attending such parties and she too wished to have one. We decided to oblige and had told her that this was going to be a one -time affair. That party was done with and we heaved a sigh of relief. You ask why?

Well, these parties have crazy amounts of balloons! 200+ is normal which are usually bust by the end of the evening, adding to landfills or chocking animals. There are activities for which you need to pay – tattoo artist, face painter, photo booth, event manager and whatnot. There is a tremendous amount of food that is ordered and wasted. There are customized cakes made of fondant, again as the fondant is too sweet for anyone’s liking the whole fondant thing is junked which means some more wastage. Add to it the rent of the location, photographer, lighting and other extras, this is nothing short of a mega event!

Once that phase was over, there is a new trend today. The tween wants her select friends to be taken to some play zone, movie or another form of entertainment. This year I literally had a meltdown after hearing the unending expectations and repeated comparisons that she had with another friend who had a birthday around the same time. It was like they both were in a race to prove who has a better birthday! I really have no idea how to get her out of this twisted competition.

Add to it, the other girl came up with statements like ‘ My parents believe I should have a grander birthday as I grow older’ or ‘ I get multiple gifts from my relatives and then from the friends, so I have lots of presents to open!’

I don’t know if the child’s parents truly support these statements or it is just children trying to compete with each other, but my problem with such thinking is this

Birthday Parties – A new way to compete?
  1. Just because I have money, does it mean I need to show it off in such a brazen manner? Can’t my love be shown in the effort I put to make a great meal, or take my child to a great outing or ensure that her friends have a great time?
  2. Why make the kids believe that there is only one way to celebrate the birthday and that is by spending crazy amounts of cash?
  3. Gifts that kids get are usually neglected within a week of the birthday party, then why encourage kids to believe that lots of gifts mean a lot of happiness?
  4. Most gifts that are given are either something that the child already has or is something that is similar to some other gift. So most of the gifts are either recycled or simply ignored.

While we settled for a movie with her friends, such questions left me worried. I am scared to think that we are raising a materialist and superficial generation that might not know the difference between true happiness and material superiority! Do you have some solutions here? Do share in comments below as I would love ideas to have a heart to heart with my child and be better equipped to tackle this birthday syndrome next year.

21 Replies to “Birthday Parties – A new way to compete?”

  1. I hear you!! Children’s birthday parties these days are over the top. Gone are the days of a cake with some evening snacks for a few friends. The parties are getting crazier by the day. I was away from it all, for my son was in a boarding school and he celebrated his birthday as per the school norms. But I see my friends spending a bomb on their kids parties. Though they themselves do not approve of such lavish parties but guess they have to give in to the child’s tantrums / peer pressure etc! And the way the invited children behave at the parties… (as their parents arent there) it is abominable! There’s so much wasted food, tantrums about return gifts, they dont listen to anybody … aah! I can write a whole post on this!

  2. I hear you Neha. Today, kids easily get carried away with things happening around them. Gone are the days when we used to say yes to our parents without questioning. Well, usually, we celebrate our daughter’s bday by calling a few of her close friends at home. She did ask to celebrate it outside as she attended such parties. But when we explained her what all you can do if we celebrate it at home like her favorite food, more time with her friends, more relaxed environment then she was pretty convinced and I got a big satisfactory smile on her face after her friends . Btw my daughter is also in her tweens and son is in toddler phase. 🙂

  3. Since my baby’s first birthday is near, I am also worried what shall be done to make it memorable. And I too remember the times how our birthday’s were celebrated even with no tantrums and dosages. This is all we can say time has changed and so we are. Your write yo made me think again now. Thumbs up.

  4. Very true Neha, I have myself seen kids these days having huge lists ready for their birthday celebrations. And it really pains when it comes to competing with other friends just for the sake of show off. We all parents have to make a conscious decision .

  5. Just the other day my daughter told me that she wants to have a better birthday party this year and I told her birthday parties are to spend with your friends and loved ones not to show off.

  6. Thankfully my elder one hasn’t yet reached the age where he wants his personal space or wants to take his friends out. Birthday parties are becoming such a societal pressure thing now, more for kids than for their parents!

  7. Comparison among kids is at the early age is very common but if we make them understand that this is not a good practise by giving them easy examples will definetly help to channelize their mind in a right direction.

  8. With you here Neha. The birthday parties are no longer spend with family reminiscing beautiful days or spending a day doing something new. Rather they are a matter of show-off. Standing for the same reason we haven’t celebrated any birthday of Penguin this way. It’s a day we celebrate with him only. Last year he adopted a bird at the zoo on his birthday.

  9. I can feel you. My elder one is tween and younger just out of toddler age. My elder one is a boy and yet he has not demanded any such bday parties. Cake is one thing he decides rest he is okay by not throwing a party and going out somewhere as a family, may be amusement park or so.

  10. I can feel you. My elder one is tween and younger just out of toddler age. My elder one is a boy and yet he has not demanded any such bday parties. Cake is one thing he decides rest he is okay by not throwing a party and going out somewhere as a family, may be amusement park or so. But my daughter is already demanding.

  11. Not sure if this is a competition. I have always had big parties with family and friends for my birthdays when I was small – at least till I was 12. So I do little parties for my son too.

  12. I absolutely agree with you. It’s a new trend to show off the wealth, throw expensive birthday parties and give exorbitant return favours. We all love our children and money is definitely not a means to express our love for them. I have been to these kind of birthday parties but everything seems so shallow.

  13. I totally agree with you. These days Birthday parties are a matter of social status and less of a celebration. We don’t realise but kids catch up all this too and somewhere all this gets ingrained in their mind.

  14. Such a true post, everything today has become a way to compete with someone or the other.. I really wish to rewind when birthday parties or just about any celebrations were all about simple living.

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