I am a reasonable kind of gal with practical kinds of tastes. I don’t like giant to-dos or shin digs. I prefer modest, quiet engagements filled with people who mean the most to me. Big soirees are not my thing, but I won’t judge if it floats someone else’s proverbial boat.
Okay, not exactly.
Perhaps that isn’t 100 percent accurate. I won’t judge stark soirees unless ponies and trapeze artists get involved. I’m human, and that’s outrageous no matter how you cut it.
When my 10-year-old joined a competitive cheerleading gym, I became intensely familiar with a yet-to-be-filmed-on-Animal-Planet-phenomena known as the “cheer mom”. These ladies would bling themselves out in zebra print frocks, head to toe glitter and bedazzle their own eyelids if they thought it would somehow allow them live a little more vicariously through their daughter than they already were. Yet, I digress. Instead of discussing the phenomena, let’s examine the birthday parties.
I’m not quite sure which one of the moms started it, but somehow, somewhere along the way we went from pancakes to triple layer cakes, ponies and spa days for 8-year-olds. Color me old fashioned, but what happened to cake, piñatas and dollar store tiaras?
These women were at war, and like many other warmongers before them, I don’t think they thought through the costs.
I Know Something You Don’t Know
I’m not a curmudgeon (completely). I believe in having a lovely time, but there was a seedy underbelly to the birthday wars, that only I was privy to.
Affording the Birthday Wars
As a real estate professional, I had consulted several of these cheer moms after they came to me seeking advice to avoid foreclosure. They were throwing $1,500 shindigs and paying $15,000 a year for their daughter to cheer, but they couldn’t keep up with their mortgage payment. And it wasn’t just one family, it was several.
For nine months, I sat back and watch mother after mother spend money she didn’t have on things she didn’t need in order to impress people that she genuinely didn’t even like, and all the while, the bank was calling.
Granted, I am not saying that a child’s birthday party was to blame for the entire these families teetering on the precipice of financial ruin, but it is a clear example of how overspending can land you in a world of trouble. A couple of these families actually lost their homes because they refused to change their ways. When asked to justify the birthday expense, I never heard a decent reason from any one of the generals of the Birthday Wars.
So I ask you: How much is “too much” to spend on a child’s birthday party?