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Parents try to rein in birthday excess

UPI News Service, 01/16/2007 

A group of parents in St. Paul, Minn., is trying to turn down the volume on out-of-control children's birthday parties.

Their group, "Birthdays Without Pressure," was to be launched Tuesday with a talk by David Ruth, a University of Minnesota professor, who cautions parents against giving their children everything to excess.

"It seems parents are starting to celebrate children's birthdays at an earlier age," said Julie Elhard, the mother of a 6-year-old. "Already by 4-years-old, a child will have a party with 10 to 15 kids and each one of the kids will bring a $10 to $20 gift."

Ruth says the excess has a bad effect on both hosts and guests, like the 10-year-old who complained a party was a "rip-off" when he found out guests were not getting gift bags.

He cites the $10 million one rich New York man spent on his son's 13th birthday. Guests received $10,000 gift bags and were entertained by Aerosmith and 50 Cent. Parents of more modest means may emulate the couple who sent a stretch limo to pick up party guests.

Some hosts are too young to feel the pressure, like the baby who slept through two hours of gift opening at his first birthday party -- a gathering attended by 60 guests.

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Copyright 2007 by United Press International

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