Over the Top Kids Birthday Parties are the Real Problem

Kardashian Kidchilla B-day Madness

If you’ve ever organized a birthday party outside of your home for your child, then you probably will have some form of an opinion on this one way or another.

The internet has been buzzing today about an incident in Cornwall, England where the parents of a child who were hosting a birthday party for their child sent a No-Show invoice to the parents of a child they had invited, but did not attend.

5 year old Alex Nash received an invite to attend a friend’s birthday party.  He told his parents he wanted to go so they agreed and accepted the invitation.  On the day of the party, his parents realized they had already committed him to spend the day with his grandparents so they opted not to attend the party.  His parents claim that the invite was verbal so they couldn’t find a way to communicate to Alex’s friends parents they would not attend.  The parents weren’t friends so they had no contact info on hand.

When Alex returned to school he was given an envelope with an invoice for just under 16 British Pounds (almost $30 CDN) and it was taken home, claiming it was for the cost of loot items and other related matters.

If you follow many of the comments all over the internet you will see a wide variety of input, with some defending the parents who sent the invoice, while most find it a very callous thing to do, saying it happens from time to time and they should just suck it up.

While I personally can see the point of view from both sides, I tend to think the real issue here has nothing to do with whether an invoice should have been presented or not.  No, I think the real problem here requires us to take a step backwards from where the debate stands.

Personally, I think the real problem here is that we are spending close to 30 bucks per head on kids parties to begin with!

Kids parties, to be honest have gone completely whacko over the almost 13 years that I’ve been a parent.  Thanks to a brutal combination of party planners, Martha Stewart-esque websites, magazines, TV shows and a healthy dose of ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’, the amount of time, effort and money being put into kiddie birthday parties is absolutely nuts!

It’s no longer okay just to have a few friends over to the house, blow up some balloons, play Pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, and eat a delicious cake made at home – just as it was for me and many others of my generation growing up.  Now we have to book the play centre, hire the cake maker, look for useless swag bags trinkets that usually get destroyed in seconds or thrown out once the kid gets home, plan the entertainment and generally try to one-up, or at least keep par with what every other parent does when they plan a kids party of their own.

It’s not hard nowadays to spend $200, $300 or even up to $500 on a kids birthday party, which will only mean you’ve set the bar for yourself for next year and you’d better start a registered over-the-top kids birthday fund right away.  You’ve also said ‘Game On’ in this world of ours where many can never feel happy knowing they’ve been outdone. It’s stupid, it’s a first-world problem and it’s indicative of so much that’s wrong with our materialistic society today.

While I can see how spending that kind of money on a birthday party and then having someone suddenly decide to not attend would be irritating, I think the hosting parents need to look at themselves in the mirror and ask why they spent so much bloody money in the first place?!

I have great memories of birthday parties for both myself and my friends as a kid where the real joy was in coming together to play simple games and eat amazing cake made by the Mom or Dad that ALWAYS tasted better than anything bought at a store.  The level of stress we create on ourselves nowadays not to mention the expense can, to my mind, never replicate the feeling we had when it wasn’t about one-upsmanship, but simply being together to celebrate a milestone with people who care about you and really want to be there.

With apologies to anyone I know who have a business that revolves around this burgeoning industry, I really think we need to revisit the extremes we have turned kids parties into.  If we can, then maybe ridiculous scenarios like we’ve just heard about can be avoided altogether.

Eric Novak

About Eric Novak

Eric Novak is a father of 4 who also thinks that environmental stewardship is a requisite of parenting. He's not a professional Dad nor is he an environmental scientist, but he's someone who gives a damn and is trying to make the right decisions as he lives his life as a father, environmentalist and business owner. Eric and his wife Karen have 4 children and reside in Ajax, Ontario.