Mrs. Cheap Answers Your Birthday Party Questions
Mrs. Cheap gives you permission to not give goody bags at kids' birthday parties.
Dear Mrs. Cheap,
I don’t feel like spending $500 on an expensive professional cake, invitations, entertainment, and goody bags for my daughter’s birthday party, do I have to? Also must I include every member of her kindergarten class? That is 18 kids plus their families. I wanted a small party but I don’t want to be rude or cheap. - Not Cheap but Not Frivolous.
Dear Not Cheap but Not Frivolous,
What have we done to kids’ birthday parties? Doesn’t anyone realize that we have been fooled by the decadent marketing from the '00s and by narcissistic mom-blogs celebrating how beautifully they live their lives and that they have time to write about it. (I really think these women are trying to look like they have the perfect family to hide the fact that they are lesbians. For more information on this subject I've written a fantastic article on my blog at www... Hey, wait a minute.)
Do we really believe that everyone has their dream job, and in their spare time they are building five-tiered working volcano cakes, all the while hand-stitching goody bags filled with gourmet Maltodextrin Lincoln logs? In our Facebook society we are more interested in how things look in pictures than how they are in reality; we are editing for the viewer, and our lives are as artificial as the color of our food. Which brings me to ...
Cakes: I could go on forever about my annoyance towards birthday cakes, but basically it boils down to the fact that cakes are meant to be eaten, not just looked at. We have created a culture where parents feel trashy if they simply bake a normal cake and frost it at home. Instead we are supposed to buy expensive “looks-good/tastes-like-crap” professional cakes. I admit that fondant cakes are cool, but they don’t taste good. Fondant is the tick of the pastry world. It sticks to the surface of a cake and spreads hyperactivity-inducing artificial coloring to large groups of children. Go ahead and bake a cake, make some frosting. Have your kids help. It’ll look sloppy, but it will be fun and most importantly taste good.
Invitations: Why buy invitations when you have a willing group of slave laborers in your house who love licking envelopes and coloring on pieces of paper? Or if you’re not into chaotic craft time, there is always evite, although I find their website so annoying I can hardly stand it. Evite is like the nagging party manager at an awkward bridal shower. Umm, sorry evite this is not the party already and no, I don’t want to fill out your stupid survey on my “All time favorite appetizers.”
Goody bags: Why do we feel the need to send kids home with bags of candy and plastic crap? The party is your goody bag. Isn’t that enough? Goody bags are like a small F.U. to parents: here ya go, the monster that was created from the red cake frosting can last all day!
Entertainment: Since when do kids need to be entertained? Isn’t getting together with all your friends and eating a bunch of candy entertainment enough? Plus aren’t we all uncomfortable with some strange clown-man at their party? Why do you like dressing up for little kids, old man?
Decorations: Decorations don’t make a good party. The best parties I have ever been to were keg parties after college, and it wasn’t for the decorations. If you like decorating, then decorate; if not, enjoy the people. But if the party feels naked without it, fill a big bowl with beautiful fruit. It’s edible and doesn’t support the plastics industry.
So dear, I give you permission to have the simple party that you wanted. Invite the amount of families that you can either handle or afford, and don’t worry about what other people are thinking.