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...