Saturday, March 19, 2016

The never-ending birthday saga....

I recently wrote an article about planning a reunion and neighborhood block party, which is definitely not my skill set (the topic....not the actual writing, I mean).

This is actually the second article I've written about party-planning.  One published in Nov/Dec 2015 and made me realize that I am a terrible hostess.  When I interviewed two party planning experts, I learned that I basically do everything wrong, which is why I don't entertain often.  (If you are looking for event planning/management resources, Eventbrite might be something to check out.)

Today was N's final, final, absolute last or I'm gonna scream turning 12-years-old birthday commemoration.  She had one with just the five of us, one with my side of the family, one with D's side, and now this one with friends.

She was allowed to invite 5 friends (since only 5 other people besides me and her can fit in the minivan) and take them to a trampoline place.  They ate unfrozen pizza, cake and ice cream prior to the trampoline place.  This is as much as I can stand given it is celebration #4.

I am definitely a "simplicity" party person.  I'm not going to spend tons of time on Pinterest....or any time on Pinterest, really.  I suspect there are a lot of moms out there like me.....who don't have $300 to spend on a big birthday party for each kid every year (or don't want to spend that) and who don't have the time or desire to make parties into "events."

Here are simple things to make parties fun and meaningful.....

I. Commemorative "gift" items

As a general rule, I abhor gift bags.  Kids need to learn how to give a gift without expecting a gift bag for attending the party.  Plus, most of the stuff that parents put in gift bags are cheap toys and candy.  My kid has just been fed a slice of cake, ice cream and juice.  The last thing he needs is candy.  The last thing my house needs is more removable tattoos, stickers or cheap plastic thingies that I have to surreptitiously toss in the garbage.

What I CAN get behind in the way of "attendee gifts" is something special that commemorates the day.  And by this I mean, a photograph of my child and your child together.  I will be thrilled because it is something to put in their scrapbooks, and my kid will be super thrilled because kids love to have photos of themselves with their friends.

II. Something to house the commemorative "gift" item

Something as simple as card stock could be decorated by kids at the party (Hello!  Easy activity for keeping kiddos occupied) and used as a mat for their commemorative photograph.  This card stock mat could also serve as a thank you note:  "Thanks for being my friend and coming to my party."

People who want to be more fancy than card stock can buy inexpensive wooden frames at Michaels or clear plastic frames at dollar stores.

N has made these are birthday parties she has attended, as well as Girl Scout camp.  Even I can handle something like this.

N will be sending 4x6 copies of a photo I took with her and her friends today in her thank you cards.

III.  Make them learn something

Every moment of every day is an opportunity to learn, and I don't mean boring, stodgy learning that sucks the life out of everything.  If your 8-year-old son is having a "medieval knights" themed party, and you are of the persuasion to plan for the party more than 5 minutes in advance, have them play medieval bingo, where they can land on and learn about being drawn/quartered or other horrible things from that time.  This is a book any 8-year-old boy will love.

IV. Have a start time AND end time

One of the moms told me today that she liked how specific our invitation was.  Drop off at our house noon; pick up at trampoline place at 2:45.  Boom!  Now go plan your day.  None of this nebulous, "It ends whenever you feel like picking your child up."

V.  You don't have to pay the party place for the cupcake bit

I understand the convenience of just doing everything at the party place.....but really, like $300 just so a teenager can hand out cupcakes to my kid?  I like the idea of minimizing the guest list....6 kids including how many can fit in my car.  They come here, eat, open gifts and bug around. I drive them to the roller-rink or trampoline place or wherever.  Today I spent $118 (including for the boys and me to jump).  N had a good time with her friends.  Mission accomplished.  

No comments: