The following is from the Jan. 16, 2007, edition of USA Today.

Bashes for little darlings get bigger and bigger

By Sharon Jayson

Her older daughter's birthday made Julie Printz realize she had gone overboard with a tea party for 15 kindergartners.

"I tried to do something simple, but it escalated," she says. "I spent plenty, I'm sure. I got obsessed with the details. I put so much time and effort in the little gift bags I sent home. The night before the party I was up until midnight."

Printz, 42, an applications analyst and mother of two from St. Paul, says that party three years ago shows how parents get carried away with kids' birthdays.

"I could see it on the faces of the parents when they came to pick up their kids. They were impressed and terrified that 'I'm going to have to do this, too,' " she says. "I contributed to the mania."

Now she's among parents and educators behind Birthdays Without Pressure, a campaign launching today in St. Paul. Organizers hope it will start a national discussion about a parenting culture in which birthday parties have gone too far. . .

Many parties are themed events with elaborate decorations, cakes and goody bags filled with loot to take home. Commercial party sites have sprung up to fuel the party panic among middle- and upper-class parents.

"It's created a new industry," says Daniel Howard, an expert in consumer behavior at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "It is real, and it has made an impact on the economy."

Read the full story.

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