Dear Crabby, Have Kid’s Birthday Parties Gotten Out of Control?

Dear Crabby,

My 8-year-old daughter was recently invited to a birthday party. I was expecting something low-key like cake and ice cream or even Chuck E. Cheese. Boy, was I wrong. The birthday girl hand-delivered a custom pillowcase for my daughter to bring with her to the birthday sleepover celebration. They slept in individual homemade tents and she even brought goodies home in the same custom pillowcase. Is it just me or is that a bit over-the-top for a kid’s party?

Faith Fete

Dear Ms. Fete,

I must admit that I was only recently clued into this phenomenon. My daughter says something called Pinterst is to blame. All I know is when I asked her about it, her face turned three shades of red… and I’m pretty sure I saw steam coming out of her ears. Apparently, my granddaughter received a birthday invite years ago for a tea party and my daughter thought it was going to be some innocent get together where there was more milk and sugar in the cup than tea. Sadly, that was not the case. Nope. Instead there was an elaborate Alice in Wonderland-themed invite that instructed the guests not to be late (ha!) and also wear fancy gloves and big hats. And it was all held at a swanky tea house that used real China and everything. For a kid’s birthday party, for crying out loud! Ya know what my birthday theme was when I was a kid? “Congratulations! You were born!” In fact, my siblings and I had the same theme from the time we were kids until we graduated high school. Oh. And there was cake and ice cream. The only time I remember attending a themed birthday party was for good old Jacob Judkowitz’s Bar Mitzvah. Man. Now that was really something. We all got goodie bags and the food seemed to never run out. Truth be told, I could have done without the dancing (girls, blech), though. And I didn’t even mind that I had to wear my Sunday best even though it wasn’t a Sunday. But to be fair, Jake really had to work hard for that fancy party. I mean he had to memorize passages of Hebrew and recite it all in front of hundreds of people. That’s way more than I was ever willing to do for any present.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are some milestone birthdays where it’s OK to go a little over-the-top, but to make each birthday party an ‘event’ seems like overkill. First of all, these lavish parties are expensive to pull off. Secondly, it gives kids unrealistic expectations. And lastly, where does it end? When the parents are broke and collapse in exhaustion from trying to outdo each other? No thank you. There will be plenty of time for big, fancy parties. I say for now, just let them be kids and have fun. Oh, and maybe delete that Pinterest thingy.

Hope that helps!
Dear Crabby

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Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at

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