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The High Cost of Birthdays

All three of my kids celebrate birthdays in November. For the last three years of the twins life, they weren’t really aware of their birthday so, hey, far be it for me to bring it up. But, they turned four this year – the same age I officially marked Elby’s big day with a real party (not just an adult get-together with a few cupcakes and Dora’s Fiesta sign thrown up on one lone wall for the photo ops), a party at a place called The Ballet Barre with preschool friends, goodie bags and pizza plus a migraine for every adult who lasted the full two hours. Elby absolutely loved it.

Here’s the problem though: real birthday parties are stupid, crazy, expensive and might I add seemingly unnecessary yet I needed to throw two of them.

Around here people are willing to throw around a lot of coin to celebrate the big day. One of Elby’s best friends had a “spa party” which included mani/pedis, facials, make up and hair, a fashion show and they also made their own glitter lotion and lip gloss. What kind of busy-ass days are six-year-olds having that they need this level of relaxation? These kids were getting more pampered than the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

What wasn’t included for the mom was food for the kids and adults, birthday cake and extra kids. Luckily she won her party package at a school auction and didn’t have to pay nearly full price. But that’s the least of what people in my neighborhood are up to.

Since I hadn’t won any parties lately and since I had to throw two of them, my thinking was to go against the norm. Screw these people and their f-ing Fairy Hunts, backyard petting zoos and 12-foot- balloon structures of Ariel. And screw the “Snow White” that wanted to charge two hundred and fifty bucks for 90 minutes of face painting and supervising freeze dance to a Justin Bieber CD that wasn’t even going to bring.

I decided that I’d do it myself —old skool! Two parties in the backyard with a bounce house, piñatas and a little Pin-the-Tail. BAM. We’d order pizza, get a couple of cakes from Ralphs and I could certainly manage to paint a few nails and run a game of Red Rover.  Plus, since it was in my backyard, I could order as many kids as I wanted. I invited the whole preschool class for the twins and for Elby I invited every girl in her class and then some! The kids were into it and I was feeling darned pleased with myself until about four days before the party when I got a look at the weather report and saw that it was calling for thunderstorms on the day of the party.

Damn. Seeing as we live in 1700 square feet and most of that is not living room, we needed an alternative quick. And that’s when I called Ballet Barre to see if they had any openings. They did. And two parties and six hundred bucks later (not including cake, pizza, goodie bags, migraine medication, and paper goods) we were done.

But really, it could’ve been worse. My friend runs the Ballet Barre and we got a break. Most birthdays come with a hefty price tag.

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  • Fairies and Dragons 1 of 7
    Fairies and Dragons
    At $450 for 10 kids to put on some wings and drink pink lemonade it's a bit steep but kids love this place. I guess boys can dress like dragons but really? Do they want to?
  • Diva Girlz and Adventure Boyz 2 of 7
    Diva Girlz and Adventure Boyz
    That really is the name of the place that did the spa party. I have to admit it was truly awesome! But 10 girlz will cost you $520 bucks and that doesn't include food, cake or a massage for you after you pay the bill.
  • Lollipop Dreams 3 of 7
    Lollipop Dreams
    There is no Z at the end of dreams but this place makes up for it in zeros at the end of the prices. Nine kids will run you over six hundee and that only includes finger sandwiches for the kids and some fruit drink to go along with the glitter hair do and proper tea party etiquette. At this party as well as most (all) of them you bring your own cake.
  • Bowling 4 of 7
    Bowling
    Prices may vary on this endeavor but at one popular spot here in Los Angeles it will cost you $30 bucks a kid for them to get their bowl on. Again, unless your kid plans to stick to the 1-2 slices of pizza maximum, you may want to bring more food. Also, it's bowling. How are kids supposed to spend an hour and a half entertained by just that?
  • Chuck E. Cheese 5 of 7
    Chuck E. Cheese
    I will not ever hate on The Cheese. This place actually seems fun to have a party if you can handle that the place always smells vaguely like a high school locker room and it just seems like a hotbed of ADHD diagnoses. A party here will run you about 400 for about 10 kids. But hey, they get forty tokens (which will last them four minutes so plan to buy more).
  • Enchanted Fairy Tea Party 6 of 7
    Enchanted Fairy Tea Party
    This is a party company that comes to your house and sets up a tea party. All for the low low price of about six hundred dollars for ten guests. That doesn't include food for adults or cake but it does include a starfish hunt and a mermaid pledge so there's that. For an additional five hundred you can also get a tent, a mermaid photo for each guest and a self serve food bar for eight adults. Just the facts.
  • Specialty Cake 7 of 7
    Specialty Cake
    You don't want to have a special special day without a special special cake do you? There is no shortage of bakeries that will make you a personalized cake. But for this one it will cost you over 250 bones. I need a job!

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