How lavish are kids' birthday parties going to get before we boycott them altogether?

I wouldn’t be surprised if some parents start hiring party planners and setting up gift registries for their little ones. (“Mommy, I want the toy ride-on Cadillac with the gold rims. It would totally match my Louis Vuitton bag.”) How about a destination birthday party where a gaggle of toddlers jets off to Miami Beach for a three-day weekend of spa treatments, five-star restaurants and a little clubbing? I think my wife would volunteer to chaperone that party.

Each year it seems kids' birthday parties get more elaborate, expensive, and soul crushing. I kid about the soul crushing, but not by much. The reason I find it so disturbing is because I am one of those jealous, insipid parents who gets whipped into a birthday party frenzy and winds up spending much more time, money, and energy than I should on my kids' parties as a result.

I set a budget for each party, vowing with the fortitude of a saint to not surpass it. Then I watch the money blow by on a bounce house that looks like a McMansion. I guess I have to admit that I’d rather run up the credit card than feel inferior to my peer parent group.

It’s more than keeping up with the Joneses, however. It’s keeping up with the Smiths. And the Robinsons. And the Blakes. You get my point – the birthday party competition never ends.

Here’s the setting for a child’s birthday party in 2015: Cool location (Read: Not Chucky Cheese). The location's got to be part of the theme, think an Ice Rink with a Frozen theme and a visit from Anna, Elsa, and Olaf look-alikes. The birthday girl has her own Frozen costume, complete with costume change, of course. Each article of food has a clever name, like “Let It Go Lemonade” or “Blizzard Burgers.” And there is healthy, organic food for the kids and separate healthy, organic food for the adults. Plus liquor, if the mood is right.

And don’t get me started on the cake. The cake or cupcake tower looks like it’s made by a pastry chef who was trained in Paris. The funny thing is with my kids eating the dessert, that ostentatious, delicious creation is destined to be on the floor within seconds, trampled underfoot.

Then, there are the goody bags. Each child gets something to take home, because the birthday boy or girl can’t be the only ones getting gifts. Not in our enlightened age. Sometimes the gifts are pedestrian. Sometimes not. I’m half-expecting my kids to get a child’s Rolex and a cash donation to their college fund at some of these parties.

What blows my mind is this: Remember the birthday parties when we were kids? You might have invited a few pals to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal, a cake so sweet it made your teeth hurt, and a visit from Ronald McDonald. Maybe you and a buddy went to the movies or a ballgame. Or maybe your mom made (attempted and failed) to make you a cake designed to look like your favorite superhero.

Did we feel cheated? I didn’t.

Now, we’ve set the bar higher than the aforementioned Leaning Tower of Cupcakes. (There’s a clever name for your child’s Italian-themed birthday party, by the way.) During the first years of our children’s lives, we had separate parties for each child. We needed to pray that our tax return came in higher than expected to pay for the parties. Those days are over. Moving forward, it’s a joint party or bust.

My kids won’t care. They simply want to have friends over to play and have a good time. For the last few parties, we’ve ordered pizzas, had a homemade cake (it actually looked like a superhero, too) and given out goodies from the Dollar Store. Surprisingly, no one revolted.

After all, it’s a birthday party for a kid, not a wedding.