Shorty #2 is about to turn 3. For the past 2 months she has asked me every day “Is today my birthday?” and every day I get to let her down. The good news is that its soon, next week and we’ve planned the party for this weekend so she’ll actually get to celebrate the big day as more of a season with a few events along the way.
The Birthday Party has grown into a big deal these days. The scale is in some ways bigger than my wedding. The venue, the catering, the entertainment, the party favors. It adds up. And for the love of God, make sure that venue is safe and inviting and hasn’t been used by anyone else in the class yet. For the catering – make it healthy, organic and something kids will actually eat. The entertainment should be fun and appealing but not too commercial please. And finally for the ubiquitous loot bag – it better be environmentally friendly.
Gone are the days of the McDonald’s party room where many of my own birthdays were held (and truth be told where I hosted plenty as a fifteen year old employee). The cheap 5 cent plastic baggie full of candy will no longer fly. Kids these days turn up their noses at such pedestrian pastimes as Pin the Tail on the Donkey – which I’m quite sure is in no way a politically correct activity as this could be considered animal abuse.
No, the birthday party is now festooned with costumed princesses singing “Let it Go” to a room full of toddlers dressed in their finest princess regalia. Bouncy castles and cupcakes, full catering for the parents. These things are a big deal. Mom the party planner has taken on a whole new meaning.
What do we do? Is this an every year (x 2 kids) event? How do we manage expectations as these things get bigger and bigger? What do we do for a birthday gift when we’ve already dropped a wallet-full on hosting the party of the (or THIS) year? We’ve been smart enough to plan some vacations around birthdays so we can skip a year here and there – but what do we do when we are forced to GASP, celebrate at home? Break the bank every 12 months? We need to nip this in the bud. But how?
I am as much to blame. I LOVE to see the wonder in my daughters’ eyes when they are surprised by the different aspects of the event. I want the kids to have fun and remember their 3rd (4th, 5th, 6th, 7th) birthday fondly. I know, I know. How does each year stand out in their memory? Hell, how does it stand out in my memory? Was it #1’s 3rd birthday when we did the music class? Or was that her 4th? Was it her 2nd when we catered for an army and the flu ran through the guestlist and we only had 5 people show up?
This year, I’m trying to dial it back. Less is more. Perhaps we can wean them (and us parents) off the gala event of the year mentality?