Jeremy turned 9 in May. It was fun celebrating with a family party, and then a gang of ten boys a few days later. Someone at school once said to me, “You are so good about having all these kids over for birthday parties.” Like I deserve sainthood or something. Ha! Well, I can’t say that I look forward to the experience… I just hope to survive it. I figure I can deal with a few hours a few days in the year that are super busy and slightly crazy.
Here’s my philosophy about birthdays. Birthdays are super exciting for kids. Having friends over is doubly so. So don’t worry about your neat house. Why not inconvenience yourself and let the hoards come over for a couple hours. You don’t need to clean the house – just tidy it and be a little organized and prepared. And have your husband at home if you can. It is a chance to get to know the other kids in your child’s class, and also meet parents when they come to pick their kids up. We usually end up chatting in the front yard as the kids run circles around us on scooters.
Here’s how we work the birthday thing in our home. Every other year till they are about thirteen, they can have all the boys or girls in their class for their birthday party. This is usually held on a Friday, after school till 7 pm or so. The other year they can invite a few friends over for their birthday. This way I will not have three big parties within one month. We also have a family party when I usually have my mother and father-in-law, sister Nicolette and family, Scott’s sister Kathy over and any Canadian family that happen to be down. Family parties are easy affairs…. cake and coffee. Once in awhile (like last year for Katrina’s 13th) I invite the whole family clan for a birthday party.
Kids birthdays are not too fancy. We usually have the party at home. Taylor and friend Chris were a great help with Jeremy’s party, planning out a treasure hunt for two teams the day before, and then running the hunt the day of the party. This year we had different stations the kids rotated through. Basketball, trampoline soccer, air hockey etc. Taylor and Chris organized this as well. (Hurray for older helpers!) Soccer is always fun, splitting the boys into teams. Since three of my kids birthdays are in late spring, our pool, slip and slide and sprinklers have often played big parts in their parties.
I decorate with what I have at home – usually balloons, and some streamers, maybe matching, maybe not. I always make a cake which I ice and decorate, but I never go all out. I have never made a choo choo train cake although I have admired them from afar 🙂 Winnie the Pooh from a special cake pan was my biggest stretch. My kids are happy if they have two colors of icing on their cake. The cake is always spice cake (basically like a carrot cake minus the carrots and raisins etc., with a cream cheese icing). Goody bags consist of candy, maybe a glow stick, lego minifigure or hotwheel car. Girl parties are easier because they aren’t so physically intense (running after hyper boys) but harder because there is more of an expectation to do a cool craft etc. of which I am not that type. However, since Katrina is so creative, she usually comes up with her own fun involving putting on plays with lots of dressing up and video recording.
I have noticed that people often have big birthdays for their really little kids (say four and under) and then it fizzles out when they are in grade one or two. I think little kids don’t care about all the fuss… they just like to eat some icing off their cake and open a few presents. Older kids really enjoy birthdays, and the older they get, the easier their parties get. So save your energy moms, for the years that really count. Your kids will remember fondly the birthday parties you were willing to have. I remember that my mom (mother of 10 kids) regularly let us have (non-fancy) birthday parties, even into high school. If she could do it, I have no excuse!