By Andrea Hagan
Forget the birthday cake made from a box mix and the waxy primary colored candles of our youth. Imagine now an event that takes months of planning, countless hours combing Pinterest, Instagram and Etsy in search of the perfect themed event followed by countless hours executing said themed event. Lots of cash spent, the house wrecked, mom and dad needing to take to bed, and what’s to show for it? Pictures to prove to your child years down the road that you went insane one day a year?
Parents, why do we fall into this trap? While I did not go completely insane, I did go bigger than I intended to for my oldest daughter’s first birthday party. Surprisingly, my husband was a terrible enabler. I set out initially to have a mini cake, made by me, with the grandparents over to watch the time-honored ritual of a one-year old smearing icing everywhere. And that would be that.
Except that it wasn’t that. My husband really pushed for a big party, that it was our first child’s first, after all. I caved, allowing what should have been simple and stress free to turn into anything but. Extended family, friends, a buffet of homemade finger foods and treats, two dozen homemade cupcakes, not including the homemade smash cake, a helium tank purchased for the balloons, the perfect birthday girl outfit, monogrammed birthday bib, I could go on here, but you get the picture. And looking back, this party was low key and modest compared to other parties we’ve attended.
Who’s to blame for this epidemic? Perhaps the blame lies with event planners in LA who celebrity moms hire to throw lavish parties for children with “quirky” names such as Apple, Blue Ivy, or Zuma.
Maybe it’s MTV’s fault (remember MTV?!) for the strangely addictive, train wreck of a television show “My Super Sweet Sixteen”, where bratty teenage girls get their overindulgent parents to drop 10 grand on an over the top birthday extravaganza. Think red carpet and designer gowns, the hottest band of the moment, security guards at the door, all the while documenting how low we- as a society, have fallen.
Or it could boil down to the fact that when you become a parent you are suddenly in a secret competition that your child is/has the best, and this competitive nature includes having the “best” birthday party. And biggest is best. Add gasoline to this fire, i.e. social media, and it’s the perfect storm for a one upper birthday bash blowout. (Or we could just stick with blaming celebrities and MTV).
My youngest daughter’s first birthday is a few months away. Already the debate begins. I want cake and grandparents. Now my husband is using a different tact: Well, since we threw a big party for Emeline’s first, shouldn’t we throw a big one for Natalie, too? Sneaky. I’m a middle child and so of course this argument resonates with me. (Ah, but middle child angst stories are for another day…).
Will I go insane this time around? Place your bets here. Do you go all out for your child/children’s birthday parties or did your own mother know best with her box mix birthday cake set atop a tinfoil covered piece of cardboard?