Little People Parties.

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Harper is turning six this week, which means that I have been running around like a maniac, trying to organize all of her various celebratory gatherings without completely losing my mind. Call me crazy, but when I was a kid, I had ten friends over to our house, we played in the backyard, we ate some pizza, sang Happy Birthday, and then everybody went home, empty-handed. Okay, maybe it wasn’t quite like that every year; I suppose there were a few times when my parents did the McDonald’s birthday party, and once, when I was older, I had a party at a roller skating rink, where we did the Hokey Pokey and the Monster Mash, and slow- skated with the cool boys who knew how to skate backwards. Ah, the good old days.

 

Somewhere along the way, however, somebody changed the rules, and decided that children’s birthday parties should no longer be simple and easy to organize, but rather, should require the services of a professional party planner, and must be creative and unique, and unlike anything anyone has ever seen before. We’ve been to parties with petting zoos, pony rides, and old-fashioned food carts. We’ve been to “spa” parties where people do the girls’ hair and nails, and give them massages. We’ve been to parties where the kids dress up, learn a dance routine, and stage a fashion show. The new rules also state that every party must include a swag bag similar to what is given to actresses on Oscar night. As such, Harper has been on the receiving end of custom tee-shirts, Swarovsky crystal Hello Kitty necklaces, and High School musical pajamas. And finally, all parties must include every person with whom your child has ever had contact, so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings or cause anyone to feel left out. In Harper’s case, this means we had to invite (per school policy) every kindergartner in her class, plus all of her preschool friends from last year, plus everyone in her class at Hebrew school, plus all of her cousins, plus all of my friends’ kids, plus the kids from the neighborhood, which put us at somewhere around 45 six year-olds and 10 or 12 younger siblings who are friends with Davis, not to mention the adults who accompany them.

 

Over the years, I have tried to resist the over-the-top, urban birthday party thing. I’ve also tried to make her parties as easy for me as possible – the modern equivalent to a McDonald’s party. Last year we had a dance party where she took ballet class, and all I had to do was show up with some tablecloths, plates and a cake. The year before, it was a similar thing at a kid’s gym. But this year, Harper announced that she was tired of having her parties at places like that. This year she wanted, and I quote, a “home made” birthday party. What does that mean? I asked her. It means, she said, that I want you to do it all yourself. I swear, it’s like they can smell it when we’re being lazy.

 

karisma1022
07.06.08

I had a beach ball party for my son. I had the beach ball shaped invites,all the food was made by me....eek that was a little overwhelming but fun in itself. Meatballs(mini beach balls), teddygrahams in celery stuffed with cream cheese(teddys in a raft), pretzel sticks with PB on them that you could dip into goldfish (fishing for gold fish), cake was a beach scene, middle dug out and blue jello poured in, (Easy to do)more stuff...just not enough space..we also decorated pre-made sun visors-dollar store, then we had water guns, squishy fish and a baby pool set up in the back yard. WE had play equipment and the kids just played. SO much fun. I do theme parties cause I love to do them.

squeakere
05.16.08

For my son's 2nd birthday party, we had a lion theme. Custom lion cake, lion invites, lion pinatas, goody bags with lion-themed items (as much as we could), lion balloons - lions, lions everywhere! My mother's comment: "What, no cast of the Lion King?" :-)
But I had loads of fun planning and finding all of the "right" things for his party, and really enjoyed both the party itself. Of course, I outsourced a lot of the labour (we did trays of food and had a bakery do the cake, plus I had lots of family help to blow up balloons and such). The high moment of the party? The inadvertent decapitation of one of the lion pinatas, which was set up to use the pull-ribbons... but the trap-door got stuck shut and there was all of those little hands PULLING so very hard to open it, and, well, you can imagine the rest...! I'm surprised we haven't received a bill for therapy sessions for any of our guests (yet)! Needless to say, we did not touch the second lion pinata, which is still sitting on top of a shelf in our family room, filled with candy...

schrbchr
05.15.08

We have a rule that there are no "friend" birthday parties until the child turns 5 and have small family birthdays until then. At my son's first friend party, he was so excited that theme really didn't matter. This year he held it at the bowling alley. Fortunately, the school doesn't allow birthday party invites at all - they must be sent from home.

jenns1125
05.15.08

Last year we did Spongebob for my 5 yr old. This year we're going to the zoo. He asked me this morning to get him a monkey for his birthday and he'll share it with his sister. I politely explained that monkeys don't live in apartments. Then he asked for a dumptruck and he'll share that with sissy too. It's so nice that he wants to share live animals with his sister! ; ) I think we'll get the dumptruck.

actionjackson03
05.14.08

My daughter is turning 2 this week, and her bday party was a combo Mother's Day/other relative's bday family gathering. She was happy as can be. I hope future bdays won't get to the level of craziness I've heard so much about (but I fear that they will!)

chazzybaby
05.14.08

I have a 3 year old son who loves Spongebob. I thought it would be cute to do the whole "krusty krab" theme. So I did. I worked and worked on getting every little detail together. It took me about a month to have everything perfect. I went the local party supply store and even got scene setters for this party. I made jellyfish out of pink ballons and pink crepe paper. After the party was done and over with, I realized that I wasted a lot of time and effort. I find that the simple things are what makes the party. Not the decorations or food. Maybe i just haven't hit the age when the party has to be his way but up until then, I will continue with a simple party. I do go overboard with his parties, but I want them to be special to him. And as far as the school policy of invite one ivite all, his school does the same thing. I found out who he was real close friends with and i talked to the parents face to face and mailed the invitation. That is an easy way around having every kid in the area code invited. That is too much money, time, effort, and kids if you ask me.

mommycita
05.14.08

I, too, just went through the birthday rigamorole for my 4 yr old. Of course, I can't deal with sending real invitations,so I did let my son pick out his invitation graphics on evite. When I attended his friend's Secret Agent party 6 days before ours, I realized we had no plan for a theme, activities, or favors. We threw together a theme/favor/activity all at the last minute when we decide to make it an alien theme. They all made t-shirts by stamping sponges cut out in planet shapes. But, the kids literally loved squeezing out the sponges in the water bucket as much as they did making shirts. My memories of days as a camp counselor came rushing back...the simplest things are truly the most fun for kids.

gayla
05.13.08

The school can create a policy about who you invite to parties at your house? That's crazy. Good article, I remember having themed parties at my house but never more than 10 kids invited.

christinenicole1
05.13.08

this hits a 'sore' spot with me. i absolutely despise what kids birthdays have become. I too remember the type of kid party you described from your childhood and that was if we had enough money.
i refuse to spend a ton of money or time (i work full time and value every minute of my 'play' time with the kids). when my stepson turned five we did a 'dinosaur' party at a local park. we dropped dinosaur bones (dog bones out of a box i wrapped in dinosaur wrapping paper) into a jar, hunted dinosaur eggs (easter eggs with candy inside), and made volcanoes in the sand (the baking soda kind, from science class). I made the cake and i bought some stuff from the dollar store for the goodie bags. i put out some veges and dip for the adults.
when he turned eight we did a 'pirate' party at home, encouraged guests to dress up. daddy and son had made a 'plank' from stuff we had laying around the shed, used two foam swoards from The Childrens Place for an official pirate battle on the plank (two kids at a time), and bought some toy swoards from the dollar store as favors, and we hunted for treasure. i made clues and split the guests into two teams and sent them on their way. i served pirates booty (in the health food section) and made a cake.

with my daughter we have had two parties (she's 2.5) at home. low key, no special guests, no special games and very cheap goodie bags. i hope no thinks less of me, but to me, with a little one it's all about them and a big huge bash is way too overwhelming! i feel sorry for kids whose parents over do it.
anyway...just my thoughts.

schultzy
05.13.08

I too was laughing out loud and agree the kids can tell when you are being lazy...trying to talk my daughter into a simple swim party with a few friends, cupcakes and a pool...think positive thoughts as she is turning 6 too!