Tuesday, September 11, 2007

BIRTHDAY PARTY ANGST

We are in the beginning stages of planning our soon-to-be five year old's birthday party. He wants an all-boy dinosaur and baseball costume party. Uh huh.
With birthday parties comes lots of things to think about, beyond the cake versus cupcakes question. First, there is all the disposable plates, cups, goody bags, utensils, wrapping paper, etc. I am looking at buying recycled paper plates and cups but even that is problematic, since I am not shopping anywhere that would sell those items, unless I buy them online. I am going to try to have foods that don't require silverware such as hotdogs, cupcakes, chips, etc. I could use the tin plates I have that are awfully cute, since a sink will be available but do I really want to hassle with lugging dishes around, plus having to wash them?
As for the goody bags, I am on the fence with this one. When I was a kid, you didn't get a goody bag when you went to a birthday party. The birthday child got the presents. We were there to have a good time and celebrate with him/her. We didn't expect a gift of our own. Somehow since then, it has become standard practice to have goody bags for all the kids. We must have equality, after all! So, what's a mommy to do? I could just ignore the standard social practices (and make myself look either really mean or really cheap) and not do goody bags at all. Or, I could give the normal goody bag (plastic bag filled w/ sugary candies and cheap toys that will break and frustrate the kids and annoy the parents with the excess junk that is invading their home). Or, I could give goody bags made of recycled paper (or I could make little cloth bags) and give some healthier options (fruit leathers, sunflower seeds, etc.). Or, maybe I could just have a basket that gets passed around to all the kids with just one little treat for them to take home. Since we will be doing a pinata, would it be enough to just have cute little bags (maybe I could make little cloth bags w/ their names on them?) that they could put the candy from the pinata in?

And my biggest issue: PRESENTS. My child doesn't need anything. He has enough toys (though admittedly, considerably less than many of his friends). He would rather play with a cardboard box (my boys have been making forts, trains, houses, etc. out of two old boxes for 10 straight days). I really having a growing distaste for our consumeristic, materialistic society. Especially with all the toy recalls lately, I would rather just avoid the cheap toys altogether. A friend suggested that I have a themed party (books, puzzles, etc.). My friend Charlotte has had book parties for her little girls birthdays and it was great. C loves puzzles and leggos and doesn't have many of either. Those are things that are great for his creativity and learning, so I don't mind him having more of them. So here is the thing, is there a non-tacky way of saying on the invitation "when you buy my kid a present for his party, please only buy puzzles or leggos"? I really hate for the parents to spend their hard earned money on something that my child will only play with for a few days, then just becomes clutter in his room.

Ideally, I would love to have a no-gift party, but I think C would be really disappointed to not have presents. He is old enough now to know that presents are a big party of one's birthday! I would really appreciate input about this. How do we strike a balance between living a simple, uncluttered, satisfied-with-less life and constrictive social norms and children's expectations? While I want to shape my child's world view towards being outwardly focused, content with less, not materialistic, etc. I also don't want him to feel "deprived" and like he is missing out on the good life! :) Hmmm, lots to think about and work through...

8 comments:

  1. I think you should do what your conscience tells you to do and not worry about what people think. I've got seven red plastic divided plates you could use to add to your metal ones. You could have a red, white, & blue theme.

    Why don't you buy brown or white paper lunch bags for the children to take home their candy from the pinata? At the party, have them decorate them. It'll take up time. Markers will do for decorating.

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  2. I agree about the goody bags. We did not have them last year and we are not having them this year. I did have bags available for pinata candy and to carry home the seashells they found in a game we played.

    I will remain silent on the subject of presents.

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  3. Dont do goody bags...I do not care how people think uf us...cheap etc....They can not judge the motives of or, well your heart...if they do they will have to answer to it

    As for the presents just call it leggo land for the Caed-Man

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  4. That's cute, Daddy of Three (I know who you are). Lego Land for the Caed Man. I like it, and Laurel, that takes care of the present problem!

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  5. Anonymous2:30 PM

    I have had the goodie bags and I have also given out just the bags to fill with the pinata stuff.. The kids really don't care. Parents are the ones that make the most of the situations not the kids. They have fun just being there.

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  6. Well, hmmm, I posted a comment this morning and it didn't show up - either you deleted it or it's in cyberspace! :)

    Here's the short version of what I said earlier:
    - don't do goody bags; all parents dislike them and the candy from the pinata is plenty. I liked your mom's idea of decorating paper bags!

    -presents: birthdays are for fun and for wants, not "needs". My kids don't need anything either! Maybe you'll be surprised at what others give him and he might find something new that he really enjoys! Although, I did like Daddy of Three's leggo-land idea!

    -I think tin plates would be cute! Just have your sink full of soapy water before the party. Toss them in as the kids finish so you won't have crusty plates to clean afterwards.

    Anyway, good luck! We're doing the 5 year old party this Saturday - don't ask... we're spending waaay too much money!

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  7. I always do a chick fil a coupon for a children's meal for each kid. That saves the parents the money and if they have more than one kid it equals near to what they probably spent on the gift! They don't cost me anything and they support our local favorite fast food restaurant. everyone is happy! :)

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  8. oh.. and also... the way I do a book party is on the invite I say... "... is having a book party"... "bring your favorite book for the birthday girl"

    you could do... "caed is having a puzzle party... bring your favorite puzzle for Caed"
    I have had no one bring anything but books for my girls to these parties. Its not an expensive gift and we always read one story at the party. you could have one more in depth puzzle that all the kids put together ..together as a culmination to the party. :)

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