April 21st, 2008
08:21 AM GMT
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LONDON, England – Don't know if you caught the article on CNN.com/living about what some parents spend on children's birthday parties, but it speaks volumes about what's gone wrong in our society.

Just to recap, one woman from Manhattan spent $5,000 on a birthday party for her daughter. She booked a fondue restaurant, hired a musical troupe to perform as the Wiggles (her daughter's favorite group) and ordered a four-layer cake. Each guest took home a Fisher Price guitar and custom CD. Her daughter's age, 3. I didn't even know that 3 year olds like fondue.

And apparently it's not just in Manhattan. There's a children's birthday party planning company in Southern California where parties can take six weeks to plan and cost as much as $10,000 dollars. The parties can range from former Marines running military themed parties to tea parties with expensive china.

The owner of the party service says: "We really promote a healthy balance of living year round, but it's OK to indulge your child once a year, because it's about making a memory."

Making a memory, give me a break. It's making a statement, which is about skewed values and bragging rights to your friends. What child of 3, let alone 10, needs to have $5,000, let alone $10,000 spent on a birthday party? She gives the word indulgence new meaning. The one thing she has right is calling her party planning service Over the Top Productions.

When I was growing up it was about getting some other children to come to your house, having a cake with candles, playing a few games, and that was enough.

I realize the world has moved on, but now it's gone mad, and it sends the wrong signal.

Most people of course, don't have $5,000 to $10,000 to blow on a child's birthday party, let alone $1,000, or even $500. Want to create a memory for your child? How about lots of love and laughter. Looking back, your child will remember that much more than fondue and fine china.

 

 



soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. nespan

    come on... Comment about Woods getting millions to play a silly game called golf and how outrageous that is. But not about parents who love their kids spending a little bit more on a one time thing.

    April 21, 2008 at 11:13 am |
  2. Beverley Dionysiou

    I could not agree with you more Todd!! I am 60 and with sons of 31 and 29, I feel sure that they look back at their modest birthday parties with the cake, candles and small, but greatly appreciated gifts with fond memories, knowing how much I loved and treasured them. I am from SA but have relocated to Greece and have been astounded by the obscene amounts of money spent by the Greeks on kids parties, frightening!! I am beginning to believe SA youngsters are deprived!!!

    April 21, 2008 at 11:17 am |
  3. Susan

    Hi there!

    I am writing from France, and I was watching CNN when you were talking about this article on your blog and inviting folks to comment. I couldn't agree more with your blog entry! In all fairness, I have to admit I don't have any children of my own, but I do have nieces and nephews that I love dearly. I have a sister and some friends who think that every birthday has to be celebrated in a big way...nothing like the kind of money mentioned in your blog, but still a party with lots of kids, cake, gifts etc. I don't get it. I am in my mid 40's and I remember one big party in grade one, another at 10 when I had my first all-girl sleepover, and another at 16 with guys and girls that abruptly ended when my parents (who graciously stayed upstairs in their bedroom to give us our space), overheard Roland say that he had spiked the punch with rum. True story! You are right in saying that parents that do this are really just showing off or compensating for something. I would like to know if they REALLY think that this is okay. And if they do, who ARE these people? As you mentioned, the best gift you can give children really is your time and love especially at these young ages.

    Take care and have a great afternoon!

    April 21, 2008 at 12:13 pm |
  4. tunatofu

    I think it is important to take a second and contemplate WHO is paying for things like $10K birthday parties. It ISNT the norm and NOT done by ordinary Joe Sixpacks. Sure, some guy bought his daughter the $2.4 million Hello Kitty phone (made of gold, diamonds and pink sapphires) but that was some Saudi Prince with tons of money and (apparently) no common sense. Most parents wont even buy their pre-teen the cheapo plastic Hello Kitty phone from Target (or any cell-phone at all) .

    Do some REAL investigating and you will find that most parents arent even doing the Chuckie Cheese party because of the economy. Dont paint all parents with a wide brush and imply that the normal demographic are somehow negligent if we dont fork over several grand for an elementary school party.

    April 21, 2008 at 12:56 pm |
  5. george b. gonzales

    Well, my dear Todd, the rich are not like you and me. You may call it wealth destructions in a way.

    April 21, 2008 at 1:01 pm |
  6. linda

    I realized by my sons 3rd birthday that he just opened the presents and set them aside. You steel something from your children by spoiling them. From that birthday on there were only presents at xmas and birthdays and I can say they shared the same joy as I as a child.
    When I went somewhere and they asked what I would bring back I said me or a kiss. My children grew up very affluent with pool, tennis court, horses etc. but they do not place over importance or are not impressed by material things. They take a person at face value and their financial position does not play arole. I think this showey birthday
    thing is really a reflection of the parents insecurities that will only be repeated in the children. I would advise these parents to look at charities and giving their children some values of loving thy neighbour and not to let them starve as we stuff ourselves.

    April 21, 2008 at 2:12 pm |
  7. Denise

    Hi ,
    I am writting from Switzerland i too saw you on CNN this morning.
    Couldn't agree with you more.
    Birthday parties should be simple and fun not necessarily about how much cash is spent.
    On the same show it mentioned that people are fighting for food in various parts of the world?
    UMMMM that speaks volumes.

    April 21, 2008 at 6:17 pm |
  8. Steve Mierzejewski

    Simply another example of the same hyper-consumerism that led us into the sub prime debacle. Why blame the lenders? They simply took advantage of a niche in a culture that equated success with home ownership. These birthday companies can only exist in a culture that equates good parenting with dollars spent per child.

    April 21, 2008 at 6:37 pm |
  9. Kurt

    Too many adult are bitter over their childhood and what they feel they did not have when they were kids. They are reliving their childhood thru their kids in many aspects of life. Large parties are not a refection of love for the child, as much as it is in the parent loving themselves and showing society their new standings in it. For many, their reflected image is made up of what they have, not who they are. Honor, Truth, being a gentleman or a lady has been replaced with "I have more stuff then you, so I must be better then you." The sad thing is, as soon as your neighbor has something new you do not have, your standing takes a pounding and your self-esteme drops. When are we going to remember, stuff is just stuff, and happiness is not tied to what is outside us, but what is inside us.

    April 22, 2008 at 10:48 am |
  10. navneet

    the blog hits the right nail. the world has really gone mad. Take the example of marriages in India where families of brides and grooms spend above $ 10000 separately. The celebrations are becoming more of like a style statement rather than good memories.

    April 23, 2008 at 6:56 am |
  11. courierdavidlee

    yes i think that kids are becoming more soiled these days. as i am from a generation that was one of the first to be spoiled as i was born in 1984. this means i grew up with the connivence of cell phones, i had 50 something TV channels on TV and not to mention the internet. However i also believe that what someone spends there money on is there business. i think its goofy to spend that much on a party but i also think it is goofy to buy a car that gets less than 30 MPG. should we be saying those people that buy an SUV when they only have two or three kids are doing the same thing? No we don't need to address little problems like this, but we need to address the bigger problem of where did the family time go? where did the time of being together for any kind of event go. i wonder how much time this person spent not only planning but taking care of this party and neglecting there actual child. people spend money for crazy things, but sometimes its a good thing. what i think would be a better way to look at this is that this is an example of how todays parents are falling away from the idea of sharing quality family time with themselves and trying more to impress those next door. But i do think this article begins to hit on a good point, where has the family gone?

    April 23, 2008 at 8:45 am |
  12. KIVA CHEYENNE TINSLEY

    HELLO THERE,
    JUST WANTED TO SAY THAT AS A MOTHER I WANT EVERYTHING FOR OUR CHILDREN.WE GIVE THEM AS MUCH LOVE AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. FEEDING THEIR SOULS AS WELL AS THEIR BODIES, STIMULATING THEIR MINDS WITH KNOWLEDGE AND REMEMBERING THAT WE AS PARENTS DECIDED TO HAVE THEM. I WANT MY DAUGHTER TO HAVE EVERTHING! LIKE FOOD, SHELTER, HEALTHCARE. AND IN THIS DAY AND AGE, NO CHILD ANYWHERE SHOULD EVER GO WITHOUT. BUT INSTEAD, I NOW SEE THIS ARTICLE ,AND WHY SOME CHILDREN GET A PARTY LIKE THAT, COULD HAVE SAVED AND FEED SO MANY MORE IS DISTURBING IN SO MANY WAYS. BIRTHDAYS ARE VERY IMPORTANT, AND A CELEBRATION IS GREAT. BUT COME ON!!!

    April 28, 2008 at 6:19 am |
  13. iis rasjeed

    I'm writing from Indonesia, Although I'm still single but I interested with this topic. According to my opinion every parent has different way in apperciating their love to their children. We'he to undesrtand about this coz children are precious gift for them.

    April 28, 2008 at 6:51 am |
  14. Kebin

    If you cant afford the latest toy for your kid then your an inadequate parent. so please validate your parenting skills and splurge on your kids.$10k birthdays for 3 yr olds? Now the neighbours know what a wonderful parent you are

    May 7, 2008 at 3:46 pm |
  15. Mike

    Since when does spending money negate lots of love and laughter? Why can't you spend and have love and laughter? It seems like the author of this article is a little bitter that they are having trouble making ends meet. People that earn a lot of money, and spend a lot of money, are not your enemy.

    May 8, 2008 at 9:13 am |
  16. Larry Ash

    You were a bit patronizing about the 60-something year old man in Bangkok who advocated letting the markets work through the current difficulties. But the truth is he got it just right. This is the wisdom of economists and laissez-faire business advocates and, yes, it should apply to the tiricklers as well as to those trickled upon.

    May 8, 2008 at 11:01 am |

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