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Just-as-Special Occasions: TLC’s Outrageous Kid Parties and Me

The kid party scene has changed

My children have partied well. They’ve ridden ponies, wrapped snakes around their necks, and greeted a New York Yankee, all in suburban backyards. An American Girl doll party, for dolls and girls, had food and entertainers brought in from the New York American Girl store.  A carnival party meant rides, the moon bounce, and clowns doing the old clown car act, all brought in from Manhattan for the day. That party included cotton candy and snow cone machines staffed by local teens; another party I recall had an ice cream truck pull up. The treats were distributed by a costumed Spiderman and Batman.

But no more, or so it seems. I realized recently that it has been quite a while since my kids attended such a big bash. Recent parties have been gatherings of four or six kids, maybe going to a movie or making a project at the birthday kid’s home.  There’s no need for a party planner or coordinator, which I remember from past years.

I read this as a sign of the economic times, and, indeed, this week’s Frugal Family column will offer birthday party suggestions on a budget. Looking back, many of the bigger parties took place during flusher times, even if that was just a few years back. In addition, I think many of us simply got tired. Big parties are a big push, and it doesn’t take too many long Saturdays of festivity, followed by Sunday clean up to realize that there is another way.  A craft and a few cupcakes might do the job.

I know big parties still take place. TLC debuts a show called “Outrageous Kid Parties,” which showcases families going all out. And I admit that I’m curious. I loved the extravaganzas, but I am convinced that a party is just as special and just as exciting when it’s a few kids and a cake.

My evidence? The must-have photo is the kid with the cake, candles aglow. Looking through years of photos, when I focus on that face, I don’t see anything else but a celebrated child, which is the point, after all.

 How have your parties changed in recent years? Has the economy impacted the numbers of guests, or the nature of birthday celebrations for you child, or kids you know?  Tell us in the comments.

Jeanne Thiemann March 08, 2011 at 01:31 AM
The best kid party I ever threw was in the church basement, for both my children at once, with 25 kids under 6 years old. We played Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey, held balloon races and hula hoop contests, and played Musical Chairs. The kids were thrilled, the moms were surprised at how much fun it was, and I went home with my wallet intact. It is not about how much you spend!

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