I Blame Tori Spelling: To Throw Or Not To Throw A Big Birthday Party?


I blame Tori Spelling for totally making me want to go the other way. It’s not like I’m anti-party or anything but Jesus. Isn’t a recession on?

And even if we weren’t in the middle of the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression wasn’t, just who exactly is the enormous party for? Because it ain’t for 4-year-old Stella McDermott, that’s for damn sure?

Or am I way off base here? Is this party, that likely cost in the tens of thousands, the party of every little girl’s dreams?

Tori posted about the party on her website and had the gall to add that Stella’s dress was purchased off Etsy and was “very well-priced!”

Right. Like we’re all supposed to think she was exercising more sense than cents at the little tea party that could.

But I’m not hating. Not really. How can you blame someone who grew up in “Spelling Manor” and has absolutely no real-world concept of cash. Tori is a pretty cool chick and a seemingly good mama for being raised by Candy Spelling, who could seriously give Joan Crawford a run for her Mommie Dearest Money.

But this isn’t really about Tori. It’s about the increasingy pressure to throw bang-up birthday bashes for kids under five. Does it really make that big of a difference? Certainly not at 1 or 2 years old. Recently, when my daughter turned 3 we invited over a couple friends of ours and one of hers and even that proved too much for her toddler sensibilities.

It got me to thinking about how I want to handle birthday parties as she grows up and I’m inclined to lean toward a toned down family affair. Of course, as she gets older friends will be invited. I once heard you invite as many friends as the age the child is turning. Which seems okay for 4, 5 and maybe 6 but once you get to 7 I think you’re asking for trouble.

Keith from Almighty Dad agrees. In Birthday Parties Are Stupid he says children’s parties incite “year round swarms of kids who arrive at house after house to eat and mess things up, much like locusts, and parents who are forced to spend money on children who aren’t their own.”

The waste of money also grates on Keith, but not so much the cost of throwing the party as the expense to buy presents for the parties of other children:

For the sake of every parent’s sanity, birthdays should be restricted to family affairs, not the money and time suck that our society seems to demand.  Nobody cares that Johnny is 8 besides Johnny’s family.  It isn’t the kids who buy the presents for each other; every invited kid is paired to a stressed out parent who is forced to look for a socially acceptable present while blocking out an entire day of their schedule for a child that is irrelevant to them.  And, the kid who is invited only cares insomuch as he’s going to get free party favors, cake, and a chance to run around like he does every day anyway.  Birthday parties are an utter waste of resources and time.

Strollerderby’s Lori Garcia is also a fan of the homespun birthday party. In I’ve Never Thrown My Kid A Birthday Party she talks about the ever more elaborate parties being thrown in her California community and thinks they aren’t for the children or the parents but for the Joneses.  “…as I witness my fellow parents planning bigger and better parties, I’m more sure than ever in my decision to keep birthdays simple. It’s not about the money per se (although, geez), it’s about what bigger and better means. Sometimes it feels like bigger and better is becoming smaller and less impressive as the next parent outdoes the last; where kids are given more for less reason.”

These are all solid reasons for downplaying parties and all contribute to my decision to tend toward a small family affair but my own childhood party experience is also a key factor. When I was younger my mom was way into throwing birthday parties and so were the moms of friends. I think this set up within me a huge, unrealistic expectation of My Big Day. Which pretty much led to birthday disappointment for the rest of my life. Even now I get this bizarre thrill as my birthday approaches. As if it’s going to be The Greatest Day Ever! Of course it never is. I just get up and work and wipe butts and make dinner and get a couple sweet gifts from my husband. Which is great, it really is, it’s just that I’m always left feeling disappointed, forgotten and strangely empty. Which is totally ridiculous because what more can a gal ask for then a couple gifts from her husband and a home-made card from the kids? And yet…

Strollerderby’s own Carolyn Castiglia has the opposite tale to tell. Because her own childhood birthday wasn’t really celebrated she has tried to do it up for her daughter. She says, “I’ve been throwing my daughter birthday parties since she was 2, though ages 2-5 were only family parties. But I still got balloons and a fancy cake and everything. I never had a birthday party as a kid, so I think I’m really sensitive about making birthdays special for her.”

I totally understand and I think that our own childhood birthday party experiences are definitely a major factor in how we choose to celebrate the birthdays of our own children whether we’re emulating our parents or trying to do it better. That’s cool and admirable but I think we would all do well to be mindful of not straying too far in either direction lest we  give our kids a birthday complex in much the same way.  And, in my humble opinion, pulling a Tori Spelling is never cool. But that’s just me.

What about you? What do you think about Tori’s noTORIous birthday parties? What’s your party plan and what brought you to that decision?

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Article Posted 4 years Ago

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