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No-Party Zone

Before you read the following proposal, please know that I know it will never fly. No way. Nada. Not a chance. But do me a favor and at least read the proposal with an open mind. It’s just one dad’s humble opinion. Thanks in advance for your thoughtful consideration.

No more birthday parties.

Four simple words that when put together probably read like “This Guy Is Insane” for plenty of ladies reading them … including my lovely wife, by the way. But give me a chance to explain.

Let’s get one thing straight from the top. I love my kids’ birthday parties. I enjoy pulling out all the stops to throw our kids parties to remember. I love the presents, the cake, the song, the candles and the ice cream. It’s all good and should always continue. What I want to fix is the Boomerang Birthday Party — also known as the “If you invite me to your party, I’m definitely inviting you to ours. And you’d better buy a gift that costs the same as the gift I bought you” Party.

Don’t deny it. You’re as guilty as Governor Blagojevich.

Think about it another way … your child shares a homeroom with 20 other third-graders and plays soccer with 12-15 teammates. That’s potentially 35 birthday party invites annually. Add in party invites from cousins, neighbors, your boss’s kids, your spouse’s boss’s kids, your friends’ kids, your BUNCO buddies’ kids, etc. And that’s if you have an only child. Heck, you’re probably at a birthday party right now while you’re reading this. How much sheet cake can one country consume? How much money could be saved on headache medicine alone? And how much time would you gain back for your already nutty lives? Not to mention the mental-health bonus of spending less time at bounce houses and mouse-run pizza joints.

But there is a solution: Abolish the birthday party as we now know it. In its place rises a bigger, better and much more cost- and time-efficient replacement: The Annual Summer Bigger, Badder and Bolder Birthday Bash. Marketing probably needs to work up a better name and maybe a tagline, but the idea is pure genius, if I do say so myself. Here’s the plan:

  1. Pick one day each summer, say June 15. Get all of your friends, extended friends and even casual acquaintances on board (basically, everyone on your Facebook).
  2. Have each family pitch in the same amount of money. The exact same amount. No exceptions.
  3. Then plan the most over-the-top celebration this side of Mardi Gras. Fly Miley Cyrus in from Hollywood to sing or have Tony Romo toss passes to the kids (if he’s not in Cabo). Rent elephants to do elephant stuff and reserve the American Airlines Center for a mega Rock Band 2 tournament. Whatever floats your boat. Bigger is better.

Not only will this day become second only to Dec. 25 for the kiddos, but you’ll have a blast as well. One important caveat: No presents are allowed. You can still host your own intimate family-only birthday party complete with presents, sheet cake and ice cream on your child’s actual birthdays. I’m not a complete idiot, you know. But at the mega birthday party, the only present is giving them a day they’ll never forget.

So there it is. Everyone wins. No more one-ups-manship in the cul-de-sac. No more last-second scrambles to Target to buy a $15 toy and $5 card for a child you barely know. No more calendars bulging with senseless parties. And not nearly as much sheet cake.

Who’s with me?