Tuesday, September 30, 2008

birthday bash!

no, i am not talking about some wild birthday parties and associated orgies! those happened in the distant past in the days of my youth... and no, i am not telling you anything here! (it would be injurious to my health, given the people who read my exploits here!)

i am talking about this strange phenomenon of birthday parties we organise for our kids... our kids who become completely involved in the game of one-upmanship (or one-up-womanship, if you prefer that) that gets blatantly passed off in the name of birthday celebrations!

my son recently attended a pool party... yes a birthday party celebrated in a swimming pool! i was very keen on accompanying him for this one... i put on my most innocent face and told the 'big boss' that i could lend her a helping by taking him to this party... but she always manages to see through my tricks and promptly informed me that none of the kids' mothers would be in the pool... it would only be the kids... that was when i suddenly remembered i had some other urgent work to be done! :P

birthday parties in malls and fancy restaurants are so passe! so what if it puts back the poor dad's (or mom's, before i forget!) finances by a significant number of rupees, the weakening notwithstanding!

i've heard of birthdays being celebrated where the kids are taken for a movie... you say what's the big deal? i'm talking about the entire hall being booked! and then there are birthdays where the kids are taken on a cruise...

gone are the days when a party meant a birthday cake being cut, playing passing the parcel, and then eating potato wafers, a samosa and the cake with a soft-drink to wash it down! this was only on those rare occasions when the birthday was actually celebrated! and there was no concept of return gifts!

these days our kids sometimes walk back home after a birthday with a return gift that is more expensive than the gift we gave the birthday boy/girl! :P

and talking about gifts! the kids get flooded with so many gifts that they don't even manage to open all the gifts before their next birthday arrives! therefore it is not surprising that some gifts make their way around a couple of times and sometimes come back at our own doorstep, like the proverbial bad penny!

and the 'gifting' problem reaches epidemic proportions when you are living in a complex like ours where you have at least 2-3 birthdays every month! with an average of 10-15 kids being invited for each birthday party the numbers of gifts and return gifts can become quite mind-boggling! and as you can imagine, a few local gift shops are doing thriving business! :)

p.s. the big boss and i are trying to organise a group of friends in our complex to get together and give a meaningful combined gift to the birthday boy/girl after consulting the parents.
do any of you have any more creative solutions?

14 comments:

Manasi said...

:-D yes there is a suggestion (and i am sure you know it already) i.e. like all fads this one will come to an end too :-) i know a couple friend who is also in the same predicament as you and are doing quite well with enforcing their own value system. b'days or no b'days, kids gotto know the value of gifts... happy sailing to you!

...and yes Wednesday was a perfect movie. brilliant performances and direction, indeed.

Suma said...

i hear you, i hear you...from the expensive return gift to the locations...whatever happened to the little hard boiled sweets being distributed in class...my son once came from school with a whole new pencilbox filled with chocolates...luckily the school put a stop to this trend...

this idea of a joint present is very sensible...the problem may lie in finding likeminded parents, and the nature of the recipient of the gift...some kids believe in quantity vs quality...

ps..its a shame you did not make it to the pool party...:D

vpai said...

How can they remain oblivious to the fact that there are so many others who are desperately in the need of the very thing some flaunt?

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vinod said...

hey guruprasad,

here's a parent who thought of somehting that's not only cool but global cool.

http://treesforfree.blogspot.com/2008/08/trees-truly-thoughtful-return-birthday.html

also see
http://treesforfree.blogspot.com/2008/06/gift-treesforfree-gift-certificate-give.html

maybe you could take all the kids for a tree planting session. that's something no son-of-a-top brass- would have ever thought of. and i'm sure the kids would love to dig in the dirt and have a filed day celebrating your kids birthday. good luck!

Vikas said...

Guru...you can't have your cake and eat it too!! In trying to keep up with the jonses, you might end up differently. My take is that a kid's birthday bash is one of those things (like a marriage ceremony) which has to be done and got over with. And what Thoreau said makes great sense in this convoluted world of ours...he said "Simplify..Simplify"

Gazal said...

who is to be blamed for this ...

the parent or the kid??

the chicken or the egg....??


a poignant point to ponder...i remeber doing a post on this once.

Gazal said...

who is to be blamed for this ...

the parent or the kid??

the chicken or the egg....??


a poignant point to ponder...i remeber doing a post on this once.

Prats said...

The stress in gifting, be it return or the main birthday gift becomes very stressful as more birthdays get added on to each month. And to make matters worse...the gifts get repeated...its best to gift books , stationary, something that will always find use...and one dy the parents will also thank you for it.
I always check with the parent the child's interest and sometimes ask the kid himself before gifting.
And yes, grouping and gifting is a better idea...


And so the pool mom's threw daggers is it???? eh!!! lol!!!

Guruprasad said...

@ manasi : i agree its a fad... but i shudder to think what might follow next :)

@ suma : good to hear from you! i think kids finally appreciate quality more than quantity... but i agree it takes time...
i think i am going to organise a pool party for kids and their moms next time around :D

@ vpai : thanks for dropping in... liked your posts too!

@ vinod : thanks for sharing this idea... i think its a wonderful thing to do... must try it out next time!

Guruprasad said...

@ vikas : i'm not trying to keep up with the jonese here... tad difficult given that we don't have any joneses in the neighborhood :)
but i fully agree with the 'simplify' idea... in fact i would go one step further and 'eliminate' if possible :D

@ gazal : hey! good to hear from you teacherji :)
i think at the end of the day it is we ourselves who are responsible... period!
send us the url of you post on this subject!

@ prats : i agree... some of the most meaningful gifts are the simple ones which we use by the tons every year... stationery/ books/ art material/ etc.
(i don't think the pool mom is reading this... if she is, i hope she organises a pool party for kids and moms the next time :P )

Pramodini said...

In Liberia, marriage couples decide on a shop they want their gifts from. A list of items, with their rates mentioned, is circulated to friends who are invited. People can go and buy anything that suits their budget. The shopkeeper strikes off that item before the next buyer enters his shop! How about that???

Prats said...

and I'm sure after reading your blog, she'll include the fathers too ;) :P

Giriraj said...

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- Giriraj
Visit me at - http://paigiriraj.blogspot.com/

Tys on Ice said...

okie heres one...

for my sons 5th bday party, wifey took him and some of the children in the building to a small party at some blore mall...but the main part of the celebration was sponsoring the feeding of children at the shrdhi sai temple...infact we plan to celebrate all the bdays of theirs like that..