This weekend we had my daughter’s seventh birthday party.
It seems impossible for me to believe that she’s actually seven! (But that’s a post for another day.) Mostly, today, I just want to comment on the craziness that is kids birthday parties in modern America. I’ve now hosted eleven of these events (some much smaller than others). We been to way more. So, raise your hand if you think kids’ parties are crazy these days…. yeah, me too. (I’m just pretending you agree with me.)
For my most families we know, the rule seems to be invite everyone in the child’s class at school. Also invite friends from sports and other activities. Which means we’ve been to parties with upwards of forty kids. As for the execution of the party, the crazier and more elaborate the better. We once went to a party with a petting zoo (complete with spitting camel!) and a face painter. Once, there was a petting zoo (:-(but no camel), a bounce house and a mobile food cart (which provided roasted corn, snow cones, cotton candy and funnel cake). This year, my daughter attended a Justin Bieber themed party where there was a team of professional party hosts who taught the girls Justin Bieber dance moves and they put on a show at the end of the party. Seriously.
I think all of those parties were just a little crazy over-the-top. It may sound like I’m being too judgemental. I’m not meaning to. Families have to what’s right for them and their kids. And just because most of us live in a world with out barn animals in our daily lives, that doesn’t mean our kids don’t crave that experience. And my kids loved riding that shetland pony. And it’s also true that we don’t go to many carnivals, so my kids got a huge kick out of the food cart with the snow cones and cotton candy.
But I also think you gotta know your limits. After 7 years of hosting these parties, I can freely pass on this one bit of advice: know your limits. Know where the line is. For me, I’m on one side of the line, Justin Bieber is on the other.
My good friend, Hattie (who is, coincidentally, Robyn’s mom), once told me you should have no more than the age of the child, plus one. Given that rule (which I think is a brilliant rule), we were aiming for eight kids. About four families brought younger or older sibs (which was absolutely fine), so we had 12 kids total. I thought that number was manageable. But just barely. I wouldn’t have wanted any more kids. Seriously. More than that and I would have started freaking out a bit. Even with the eight to twelve adults, I was quite nervous about having that many kids running around. At the end of a birthday party, I always breath a huge sigh of relief. No one got hurt. No one got lost. Forget whether or not anyone had fun. No one died. That’s enough for me.
How do you feel about birthday parties?
Emily McKay loves to cook, bake and play with her kids. When she’s not on deadline, she also gardens, composts, follows celebrity gossip, and practices yoga. When she is on deadline, she … well, she panics, and does all of those things with more nervous energy. She lives in central Texas with her husband, two kids, zen cat, and two dogs.