When did things get so crazy and expensive when giving a child's birthday party?
I've noticed in the last few years that a group of friends are invited to celebrate a grade schooler's big day, and it's a huge event, costing a parent hundreds of dollars. There's paid entertainment...a magician, a clown, or the like or there are rented ponies to ride, or air filled jumping things. Sometimes it's a location party, where the parents pay a (dear) price and a party is planned and prepared for them. These places range from Chuckie Cheese to ceramics places, to party spots where a theme party is done, ie: Princess party, complete with costumes to wear.
What ever happened to a bunch of kids getting together for a couple of hours in the afternoon where they would play games like Pin the Tail on the Donkey or musical chairs or peanut hunts and outside games? There would be cake and ice cream and a time of opening gifts, and everyone would go home with a balloon and a small bag of candy or a box of cracker jacks and everyone was happy.
I remember giving a party for two of my girls whose birthdays are very close on the calendar. Their friends were the same children, so a joint party made sense. (They each had their own family celebration, though, in honor of the special child of the day.) It was a 'normal' party of the times, but I'd created little corsages of crepe paper flowers and curling ribbon for each little lady to wear. Each of the guests felt special with the bouquet to take home with her. For me it was a few dollars and a few hours of preparation.
Another time, for another child who was three years old, we had an outside party. The day became so hot that we filled the wading pool, and the Mommies stripped their children to their panties, and they all had a grand time splashing and spilling water all over themselves and each other.
I remember parties with everyone digging through their slice of cake to see if they'd find a treasure which had been baked into it. If they found it, they'd get an inexpensive door prize. Similarly, if there was a special number or picture found under your paper plate or under your chair, you'd 'win' and receive a prize.
I'm afraid that I'm dreadfully old-fashioned. I've said that before, but I just don't see the need for such spending as people tend to do today for a child's celebration, when simple things please children just as well.