Birthday Expenses and 50 Presents Each!

 

This week I went to two different birthday events. First was a surprise party for a 40-year-old. My husband, at the adult party, shared a vent with the milestone birthday man about December birthdays and how they only get “half” the presents/attention. 

The next night we went to a gathering at a pizza place on a kids’ night for a 10-year-old who “didn’t want a party.” I wondered if his parents would be able to remind him later on (say, when’s he 40 and complaining about getting shafted) that he was the one to say “no” to an official party!

Not that his parents were complaining, I’m sure. Especially at this time of year, it was probably a treat to save some money. Research from Barclays in the U.K. recently found that “the average parent will spend nearly £5,000 on celebrating birthdays during the ages of four and 11. Typically, adults spend £433.39 on birthday parties and another £164.65 on presidents.” (Yeah, I had to direct quote that because I love the typo in presents. I would have thought presidents would cost more!).

The top five party expenses were:

  • Catering
  • Entertainment
  • Party bags
  • Activities 
  • Cake.

You’d think some money could be saved hosting the party at home. That may be true, but this was the survey’s “most stressful venue for a birthday party.”

But some parents also buy as many as 50 presents per birthday, the study revealed. 

Barclay’s, being a financial institution, took the opportunity in reporting on the study to remind people, “the money you spend on presents and parties adds up and ultimately can end up having quite an impact on the savings you might have otherwise put aside for your child’s future.” Clare Francis, savings and investments director at Barclays, said: “The sooner you start saving, the better your financial trajectory will be.”

Starting at Year One

A Pop Sugar columnist would likely argue to start saving that money at year one. After all, her article is entitled, “Why You Honestly Shouldn’t Even Bother Throwing a Big First Birthday Party.”

She described the relaxed approach to her second child’s first birthday party: “It was a no-muss, no-fuss kind of party, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.” But this was a far cry from the stress of the first child’s first birthday party with “an intricate fondant-covered cake, blanketing the house in expensive decorations, and spending most of the party bouncing around the house making sure everyone had everything they needed.”

Looking back, recognizing that neither child will remember the event, she suggests “throw the rules out the window and do your kid’s birthday the way YOU want to.”

That likely means 50 presents and hundreds of dollars for some and low-pomp but lots of family fun for others. 

Finally, while we’re talking about birthday expenses, I’ll also share this article from Bustle on how millennial women deal with splitting the bill at birthday dinners. The more you know, right?

100th Birthday Brunch Becomes a Wedding Party

birthday wedding

Source: NYT

On Labor Day 2018, Mannie Corman invited 160-plus people to celebrate his 100th birthday. He even wore a black shirt reading “Vintage 1918; Aged to perfection,” and a matching hat with the number 100 printed in white.

Guests who had flown in from California, Las Vegas and Texas with others from New York enjoyed a crooner singing, a roaming photo booth, and the enthusiastic welcome of Mr. Corman and his girlfriend of seven years, Judith Goldman, 76.

After awhile, the guests were invited to take their seats at the tables in Liberty Warehouse in Brooklyn. The centerpieces featured handmade wooden boxes depicting a specific year of Mr. Corman’s century. Before the buffet stations began serving though, a  closed black velvet curtain opened to reveal a flower girl and ring bearer.

Ms. Goldman, who’d added a veil to her white ensemble, and Mr. Corman, who’d added a black tux jacket, entered behind them while “Young at Heart” played in the background. A collapsible huppah appeared and was immediately erected for family members to hold the corners.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/06/fashion/weddings/a-100th-birthday-celebration-and-surprise-a-wedding-too.html

Source: NYT

Will You Marry Me?

Mr. Corman began asking Ms. Goldman to marry him in 2014. She refused, because she was unwilling to move to Brooklyn. He finally won her over, and they decided to marry. Initially they were going to do so after the birthday party. Then, realizing that they didn’t want to plan another big event, they decided to do both celebrations in one.

“When you go with a girl like Judy, you’re supposed to marry her. That’s the way it works,” Mr. Corman told the New York Times.

The guests were happy to part of the birthday/wedding event.

“I’ve known Mannie for more than 50 years, I never dreamed he would be having a wedding,” Steven Cohn told the New York Times. “It’s fabulous. It’s an inspiration for us. It’s never too late.”

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, who married the couple and officiated at more than 1,000 weddings, said Mr. Corman is the oldest groom he has ever married.

“People like Mannie and Judith recognize the importance of each and every day,” he told the Times. “They don’t worry about tomorrow. They may think about yesterday, but they concentrate on today.”

What better mentality to bring to your birthday — whatever age you are turning?

Unicorn party idea

Unicorn Birthdays and Celebrity Sparkle

Sometimes it is just fun to see how the rich and famous live. No, I’m not a Kardashian loyalist. But, when my birthday news alert (yes, I have one of those!) blew up with coverage of a Kardashian birthday party I couldn’t resist.

Cousins North (who turns 5 on June 15) and Penelope (6 on July 8)  wore matching rainbow-colored robes and swimsuits at the June 3 party Kim shared on Instagram. There were also horses with sparkly manes and rainbow-colored horns!

 

 

Grandma Kris Jenner…wonder what they actually call her (is there still a show people watch and already know that?) was also covered cuddling
with Dream Kardashian.

4ce386d200000578-5801983-image-a-30_1528077332537-1.jpg

Unicorn Party Ideas

The theme is popular for parties, so I thought I’d share some great unicorn party touches. Like this one to make Unicorn Poop Slime, which I know several girls in my neighborhood would absolutely love.

unnamed-3

Or let everyone wear a unicorn horn headband. Crafty kids could make their own at the party.

unicorn party ideas
You can easily go on Amazon and buy a cake topper that converts a cake into a unicorn.
Screen Shot 2018-06-04 at 6.57.42 PM

Or you might make these fondant golden horn cupcake toppers.

unicorn party idea

Then, there all the games you might play. There’s the obvious Pin the Tail on the Unicorn. Or, you could give each partygoer their own Unicorn to ride, as suggested in LollyJane’s 17 unicorn party ideas.

unicorn party idea

unicorn party idea

There are also videos and tutorials online to make your very own unicorn piñata.

unnamed-2.jpg

UNICORNS! It’s the best of little girl dreams: horses, magic, color, and — if it were my party — sparkle.

Queen E. II Rocks Out on Her Birthday

Queen's birthday

Image source Reuters

Many Brits love their Queen, and the fact that she has two birthdays regularly gets a spike in news coverage at this time of year. I’ve mentioned this before — the two birthdays for the monarch goes back to 1748 when England’s King George II, born in November, wanted a fair weather birthday celebration. He decided to make his official birthday in June, and the habit stuck.

This year, though, to celebrate her 92nd birthday, Queen Elizabeth II was feted with a star-studded pop concert. We’re talking Sting, Tom Jones… In fact, the opening number for the night was his “It’s Not Unusual,” which I have long loved for the hilarity of the “oonga shaka” chorus.

Shaggy, Kylie Minogue, Shawn Mendes, and Ladysmith Black Mambo were also among those on the bill for the longest-reigning, living monarch’s shindig in London’s Albert Hall. The Queen took the throne, in case you aren’t old enough to remember, in 1952! At the end of the concert, Prince Charles, 70, took the stage to lead a rousing round of cheers for his mother, who at 92 is also the oldest living monarch.

Birthday Fundraising

The concert was a “break in tradition” for the Queen as she usually celebrates more privately (and maybe noshing on jellied corgis, per a previous blog). Many of the Royal family members joined her in the box for this rocking birthday bash, which was also televised and aired on BBC channels.

The Queen’s actual birthday of April 21 was also marked with an honorary gun salutes in Hyde Park and at the Tower of London and in the town of Windsor.

The concert was also a fundraiser for The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, so she gets to join my list also of people who use their birthdays to raise donations or show generosity to others. The charity, led by her grandson Harry, will “encourage young people to excel in areas like sports, education, health and the environment across the 53 Commonwealth countries.”

Queen's Birthday

Image source Reuters

Birthday Concert Just the Beginning

Of course, the concert is only one of the Queen’s birthday events. I mean, she’s really someone who knows how to keep the birthday going and going, In June, all of London will celebrate her “official” birthday at the Trooping the Colour, an annual military parade which will bring all the royals back to the balcony of the Palace (including, presumably, the by then newly married Henry and Meghan). 

According to the Royal Mint, “during the ceremony, trained and fully operational members of the Household Division greet The Queen with a royal salute. She then inspects the troops, riding past them in a carriage. After the massed bands have performed a musical ‘troop,’ the regimental colour, or flag, is carried down the ranks of troops. Chalk up one more advantage to being Queen — the picture below suggests this pomp and circumstance is probably a bit more exciting than a balloon bouquet!

Queen birthday

Trooping the Colour, from the Royal Mint

Celebrating the First Birthday in a Bar

first birthday

Image source: New York Post

New York City is always the trendsetter, right? Well, how do you feel about following suit on this idea — baby birthday parties in bars.

According to the New York Post, “Baby birthday parties have infested Brooklyn’s bar scene.” Really, the choice of the verb “infested” alone suggests how the Living columnist Molly Shea feels about it — or at least the page editor who wrote the headline.

Shea goes to a German beer hall on a Saturday to witness its hosting five separate first birthday bashes! The article includes a picture of parents celebrating their son’s first birthday with beer steins that are as big as the birthday boy himself! Little Dante is not nursing after this party, that’s for sure!

first birthday

Image Source: New York Post

Shea describes: “The long, wooden tables in the cavernous space… covered in Mickey Mouse tablecloths, party hats, gluten-free cupcakes and pitcher upon pitcher of German beer.” The bar’s events manager tells her “we have at least one toddler birthday party a weekend, if not more.”

According to the paper, “Kiddie celebrations are a big draw for Staten Island brewery Flagship, too. ‘At this point, the majority of parties thrown at Flagship are first birthday parties,’ says event director Tricia Sykes.” Amazing!

Why a first birthday in a bar exactly?

Space is at a premium in NYC, and renting out a play space is expensive. So, the breweries and beer halls are picking up the slack. It certainly highlights the fact that first year birthday parties are more for the adults than the babies themselves. They won’t remember, but the Moms and Dads sure deserve the opportunity to celebrate surviving the first year of parenthood.

Another Mom spoke to the Post about hosting her party at another “boozy hangout” but really focusing on the parents. She simply set up playpens and a ball pit in one area for the kids and then invited the parents to sit and sip at tap room tables. “The party was definitely more for adults,” she said.

These places are kid friendly to a point — setting limits on when children can be there for instance and discouraging parties for kids old enough to run around and wreck havoc. Still, you’ve got to imagine some other bar goers are surprised by the number of strollers in the aisles and kids running rampant.

first birthday

Image source: New York Post

Ultimately, it’s a trend that makes sense. Having lived in Chicago and Toronto I could see this idea easily taking hold there too. It’s about space and cost, and knowing your audience. Now, the trend I want to see in two decades is kids coming back to the same breweries to celebrate their turning 21 too. That could be cool nostalgia.

The upside of our 40s?

birthdays

Photo on Foter.com

At a surprise birthday dinner for a friend the other night, someone suggested we offer encouraging input about turning 40. The other women at the table, even the one person who was not yet 40, chimed in with how much stronger they felt now that they were older:

  • “I know what I want and can ask for it.”
  • “I don’t care as much what other people think.”
  • “I’m better at saying No.”
  • “I can love the people I choose to love and not worry so much about the others.”
  • “I’ve figured out who I am.”

All this sounds great, right? But I was having a more difficult time coming up with positives. I still love birthdays, but I feel as if this is the year where I stopped loving getting older.

The flip side of 40s

In the past I was the youngest of all my friends, so that helped. But that’s not true any longer. At this event, I was the deepest into the 40s of any of the women at the table. Later that night I asked the same question of my husband, a year older than me. He also didn’t have a lot great to say about being in our 40s. Our list looks more like:

  • “My hair is really turning gray now — all over.”
  • “The wrinkles on my face are deepening noticeably.”
  • “It is nearly impossible to lose any weight no matter how much I exercise or how well I eat.”
  • “More foods disagree with me now.”
  • “My body takes so much longer to recover from exercise now.”

Now, the obvious answer is that we’re just more negative people (or a cake half eaten kind of people). But, I don’t know about that. I am otherwise in a good place in my life. I practice mindfulness. I am exercising regularly. I eat more intentionally than I have in the past. I am doing a job I love. I get to blog about birthdays…

Maybe I’m just more of a realist. The women at the table were being cheerleaders helping the woman turning 40 to feel good about her milestone birthday. They might agree with me about all of the items on the second list, but realized that wasn’t what our friend wanted to hear at that moment. So, let’s chalk it up to another advantage of being 40 — we know when to keep our mouths shut in favor of greater peace and happiness. for those around us!

Pooch Parties — Woof Woof Good.

Animals & birthdays….who can pass up the cuteness? Not me. I am back with another birthday animal blog, because I love them!

This one is inspired by a fun canine birthday party an Illinois TV station covered. Comfort dogs Payton and Eli were turning four earlier this year, so Pawprint Ministries celebrated with a birthday party for several of the pooches it has out in action in six cities offering love and support.

dog birthday

The India Times picked up a story about police officers in Beijing, China, celebrating their service dog’s birthdays with dog-friendly cake.

dog birthday

Dog Birthdays Online

Social media is a great source of animal birthday party fun, too.

How about this hilarious video with Morrisville, Pennsylvania pet owners singing “Happy Birthday” to their contented pooch who pants contentedly and then eats a cookie without getting up from his chair all while his buddy dog has a real issue with his hat.

I also found about Le Doggy Café, in Montreal Quebec, which invites pet owners to celebrate their pup’s birthday with four-legged pals. Check out the tongue-licking, tail-wagging fun in this one

If you think these folks are in the minority, you’d be wrong. The Daily Mail reported on a dog food company’s survey findings that 75% of pet owners celebrate their furry friends’ birthdays. Some 58% also sing the “Happy Birthday” song.

dog birthday

The only drawback is that many people make their dog’s cakes out of dog food — that means the humans can’t share a piece!

Answering Birthday Call to Duty

birthday party RSVP

There is little that makes me sadder than stories of a child having no one attend his or her birthday. I’ve written before about the need to be considerate and RSVP to party invitations. In today’s example, the parents were still hoping for the best even though they hadn’t heard back from anyone. But, even after they prepared pizza and cake for the friends they expected to show up regardless of their rude inability to say “yes” or “no,” no one turned up for their 8-year-old’s big day!

Apparently this wasn’t even the first time — the same thing happened on the child’s sixth birthday!

So, the mom went on social media to ask for people to join her son’s party:

“I think I’m posting this out of utter emotional distress … but I need to ask if anyone wants to come to an 8 yr old boys birthday party to show him that he’s loved and valued as a person…NO gifts are required other than the gift of friendship.”

When she didn’t get any responses immediately, she went to the local police station and asked if an officer might attend. Her son has always wanted to join the force. And that’s where this story takes its turn for the better.

1496092035-FullSizeRender-(3)

Members of both the police and fire department showed up to fete Graham. Cruisers lined the street of his neigbourhood. Plus, others who had seen the social media also showed up to share their best wishes.

The Mom was tearful in describing her gratitude to the Dallas News: “Something like this, it literally guts you as a parent because you can’t fix it, at least in that moment…But the Hurst Police Department and the Hurst Fire Department, they went above and beyond and made his day.”

There are so many ways in which you can make someone’s day on their birthday. I hope this glimmer of kindness inspires you!

Birthday Extravagance or Frugality?

There are two sides of every coin — even a birthday one. In going through birthday themed news articles recently, I noticed one emphasizing frugality and another explaining birthday excess.

Since Carlie Faulk’s column for USA today is called Frugal Family, we can’t be surprised her message is to “make birthdays special, not expensive.”

She encourages a focus on experiences, noting “after years of planning in-depth activities for birthday parties, I finally realized that my kids were perfectly happy with free time to play with their friends. They didn’t need a lot of fancy, expensive activities to have fun….Give them a few resources, such as water balloons, basketballs, footballs or even chalk. Then step back and watch their imaginations work.”

Birthday Party Pressure

But what if you kid imagines a lavish birthday party? No wonder 58 percent of parents say cost is their primary worry in the run-up to a child’s growing a year older.

“Parents feel pressured to not only impress their children but other parents too,” parenting expert Juanita Cleare said about the statistical findings.

Yet two Moms interviewed in Scotland about throwing parties for kids said they want to be extravagant to celebrate their children.

Dundee Mom Nichola Queen treats her trio of little ones to birthday parties with clowns, face painters, and or bouncy castle because she didn’t get to have her own parties.

“My birthday is three days from my older sister’s. I never had a party when I was younger and I hated the feeling, and I didn’t want my kids to have that,” she told the Daily Record. “So I spend that little bit more giving them something I never had.”

unnamed.png

Lisa Soyusinmez, a mom near Glasgown, even gives her kids’ bedrooms a makeover to match her party theme. They’ve done Sleeping Beauty and Superheroes and spent as much as $1000 USD for the events.

Lisa has lost her own parents and brother and said she wants to go all out to let her children know they are her world. “I really go crazy in a good way. In the month building up to the birthday, I get them excited and make them feel special – because they are special.”

Seven Parties a Year?

For another perspective on the parent overseeing a birthday consider the plight of a mother of seven children. Four celebrate a birthday in the same three-week period, and two even on the same day (but they are not twins, there are 12 years between them). Her big challenge has been trying to do something different for each one. She noted, “Irrespective of the fact that they have enough siblings for a ready-made birthday party already, each child still looks forward to celebrating their respective birthdays with friends and classmates.”

Honestly, planning seven distinct children’s birthday parties a year would probably be the end of my love of bdays.

6 Tips to Control Birthday Party Costs

birthdays on a budgetPhoto credit: Kid’s Birthday Parties via Foter.com/ CC BY

Birthdays are often an excuse for extravagance. Celebrities might spend $5,000 on a cake or buying an $187,000 playhouse for their six-year-old. Or maybe you know families that hire a yacht for their 10-year-old’s party or host 50 kids at Disneyland for the day — 50!

Yet there are those of us who want to try and keep the birthday spending on a tight budget. After all, it’s the thought that counts, right? Plus, paying off credit card debt or keeping up with the mortgage payments is probably more important than a big, blowout bash for a nine-year-old.

Pop that Birthday Budget Balloon

Here, then, are six strategies to help you keep birthday party costs under control:

Accept Assistance.

No, there is no federal assistance program for party planners. But, you likely have friends and family who would be willing to help:

  • Instead of paying $70 to a bakery, ask a friend to contribute a freshly baked cake.
  • Ask grandma and grandpa to suggest some old school games that will save you from paying for a roving arcade truck or a big bouncy house out back. Kids like to play, after all. Maybe offering them some options they haven’t encountered before will win points for novelty while also giving family members a chance to prove they’re still pretty awesome.
  • Invite young cousins and neighborhood friends to be crafty and draw or paint decorations for the party. It will look homemade, sure, but the birthday honoree will also feel the love of their family and friends whenever they look about them.

Party Outdoors.

If you’re looking at a warm weather birthday, you might host a movie night on screen in a backyard, a field day at a neighborhood park, or an obstacle course in the cul de sac (having warned the neighbors first). These options are more affordable and again will encourage creativity that can make your party distinct.

budget birthday

Photo credit: ND Strupler via Foter.com / CC BY

Think Strategically about Timing.

Planning a party over lunch or dinner might suggest you will be offering a meal. Inviting folks between 2 and 5 saves you from this expectation — snacks will likely do the trick.
If you are going to serve food, keep the menu simple and find a friend who can let you borrow their membership to a bulk store such as Costco or Sam’s Club.

Price Package Deals.

If celebrating the big day is happening at a party venue, shop around to see who offers the best deal. Sometimes a party sticker price seems more expensive than a competitor. But compare it line by line to see what’s included in each offer.

Plan Ahead.

By keeping an eye on sales you can often find party items at reduced costs. This is a good way to keep control of party decoration costs, paper supplies and plastic cutlery, and anything that goes in the loot bags (if you decide your guests can’t go without swag).

Go Digital.

Spending money on paper invitations and envelopes, plus postage (if necessary) is an unnecessary expense for the budget conscious. It’s easy to set up an electronic invitation online at a site such as Evite or Punchbowl.

Budget Birthdays Special Too

Of course, the easiest way to cut party costs is to cut out the party. But, if that simply isn’t going to fly with the birthday boy or girl you are feting, take another take and keep the guest list small.

Yes, I believe I everyone deserves a big day on their birthday — but that doesn’t mean anyone should have to break the bank to make it happen.