Archive for April, 2008

Birthday Party Depression

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Here is a topic that needs more attention. Parents, usually mothers, can get depressed when faced with their child’s upcoming birthday party. There is so much to consider; the number of guests, the location, the entertainment, the competition with their friends birthday parties and the ever increasing cost. When the parent wants the best for their child and can’t bear to have them be disappointed on their birthday, it is very easy to fall into the “got’ a have” circumstance. Is this today’s culture or is it some type of obsession?


In many cases, the party costs have gotten “out of hand” with custom cakes at $1000, party rental places at $500 for four hours, an entertainer at $300 and party favors at $20 per guest. There are birthday parties that rival weddings, costing tens of thousands of dollars. The driving force is the parent’s need to provide the best or the need to compete with your their friend’s birthday parties or both.


Younger children do not care about the expensive cakes, the over-the-top entertainment or how their party compares to their friends party. These children just want to have fun. Older children who request the extravagant party and have no real sense of costs, parents just need to take control.


Here are some ideas to help keep the cost under control:

  • Make the cake and other food items yourself. A standard cake usually tastes just as good as or better than your custom designed cake anyway.
  • Keep the guest list to only close friends and family.
  • The location can be your home or backyard or the local park.
  • Choose a mid afternoon party time to save from serving a full meal.
  • For activities, do art projects and yard games.
  • Make the invitations yourself.
  • Plan a budget and stay with it.


Remember that the way to keep the cost of any event low is to keep thinking on a smaller scale and be more active in the planning, the cooking, the creating and the activities.

Party Pooper not Helpful

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

I was recently asked what I would suggest when an honored guest did not cooperate for an anniversary party in their name. Karen and her siblings were planning a 50th anniversary party for their parents. The planning had taken several months. The party was going to be at a banquet hall, rented just for the occasion with the family and a few friends invited, about 50 people total. Karen’s mother was excited about the party but her father was less enthusiastic. He did not want most of the friends, if any, invited and only wanted the immediate family to be in attendance. He preferred not to have it at the banquet hall but just a small gathering at their home. He actually preferred to not have the event at all. And yes they have been happily married for 50 years.


I have seen this situation before, with both anniversary and birthday parties. For any number of reasons, an honored guest refuses to cooperate or even attend the event. It might be that the honored guest does not want to be reminded of their age, a little fear that only a few people will show up, does not like to be the center of attention or maybe for health reasons.


If this is a birthday party and the honored guest does not want to be honored, so be it. Forget the party, simple as that. However for a 50th wedding anniversary, especially if one of the happy couple would like to be honored, some type of arrangement should still be made to focus on the event. An anniversary is an important date, especially the 50th. This could be a dammed if you do and damned if you don’t type of situation. But in the long term, I believe the anniversary couple will appreciate some anniversary celebration, especially provided by their children. It would be a big disappointment to them if nothing was done to acknowledge the event.


There are several potential solutions to this problem. First try to find out exactly why the person does not want to celebrate the anniversary. It is reasonable to scale down the event, including the number of guests and a change of location. It could be as simple as dinner at a local restaurant with a private dinning room. Remember it is certainly best to keep the parents home as untouched as possible. It is no fun for the anniversary couple to have to spend weeks cleaning and getting ready for a bunch of house guests for their own party.


Another possibility is to send the anniversary couple on a vacation. Purchase the airfare and hotel accommodations to one of their favorite locations. An all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean may be ideal.


Bottom line, save the frustration and speak with the honored guest early in the planning stage. Give them a few weeks to consider the options and then plan to party.

Who Pays for the Dinner Party

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Who’s going to pay?

This is a topic that has been discussed many times but it never has really been resolved, until now. I suggest you use one simple method anytime there is a group. Split the bill and move on.


This minimizes that perplexing time towards the end of a dinner party about how the check will get paid. This is often a dilemma that no one cares to think too much about or even talk about for fear someone will think you are cheap. So here you are with a group of people; maybe friends or maybe not. The bill is a big one and you should be paying around $19 or round it up to $20, with tax and tip included. However, someone picks up the check and informs everyone that the total bill with tip is $280 or $28 per person. So here we go again, you have to pay an extra $8 so someone else could have a couple drinks with their meal. This really sucks! Just pay the $28 and move on.


So you can either pay the $28 or just put in your $20 and hope someone else makes up the difference or complain. Most people will just pay the $28 and be done with it. You ask yourself quietly, why didn’t the person reviewing the check come up with a fairer way to divide up the bill? Just pay the $28 and move on.


Now if this is with a group of friends that meet for dinner somewhat regularly, usually this will even out; sometimes you pay too much and sometimes you get by with less then expected. But what if this is a birthday party that someone else organized and you only know about half the people? Again just suck-it-up and pay the damn $28, it’s expected, it’s a birthday party.


Or since you brought a gift and someone else organized this gathering, they should be paying for the whole dinner. Or why don’t the one’s that had the $30 meal pay extra? So many questions, so little time. Just pay the $28 and move on.


Now the other way to divide up the check would be to have each person review the check and pay what they believe they owe. Sounds fair enough. But then this takes time to have everyone decipher the check (which can be difficult at times) some people can’t add correctly, some people forget the tax and the whole contribution comes up short. Then what? Anyway this is so silly, so time consuming, so cheap! Just split the check and move on.


What’s your opinion? Want more on this topic?

Other uses of Online Invitations

Monday, April 7th, 2008

The online invitations and eCards market will only get bigger. There are the basic invitations for party and social events, but is that all? Well no. Just like most of the internet markets, people can come up with other uses; sometimes weird, sometime very innovative.


eCards can be a good way to remind someone of an important date, like reminding your forgetful brother of your parents anniversary in a couple days. Of course you could just send an email or make a phone call or a text message or just hope he remembers. However a nice colorful eCard can be a much better incentive.


Any message that can be delivered by any usual method can also be delivered by an eCard, well except for that box of valentines candy. A just to say “Hi” message may be more appropriate with an eCard than a traditional email or text message, provides a little more sincerity to your communication.


You could use eCards in your business relationships for greeting cards, special promotions, employee events and employee gift certificates. Send an eCard for special announcements like employee of the month or top sales person or receipt of new contract. Could eCards take the place of the company newsletter, at least for small companies?


eCards can be for any announcement, maybe you want to inform you family members throughout the country that you are expecting a baby in a few months. See where I am going? I would like to get others to come up with a few different, off the wall and just good ideas for an eCard. Maybe, just maybe there are some good reasons to be sending and receiving announcements via an eCard.