We had what you might call an "arrangement" growing up. For our birthdays we could have a "friend party" every other year. And on the other years we had a "family party" in which our parents and siblings were the only guests.
I always understood the virtues of this arrangement growing up. With five children there would be a significant cost and amount of work involved with yearly parties for each of us. And my mom made us homemade birthday cakes either way. I never felt gypped in the birthday area.
But as a parent I have a problem with this arrangement. See I like entertaining. I really enjoy working on a theme and brainstorming all the ideas to go along with it. Then I like to watch the party come together and see what made the cut in the end, and what ideas worked well, and which ones didn't or were left out.
I definitely feel that there shouldn't be an exorbitant cost involved. And you shouldn't let the party plans make you crazy either. But sometimes it's hard to take it easy and not go overboard. I tried to keep this in mind working on Owen's party. It may seem like I went a little nuts on the "Dino Egg Hunt" party, but believe me--I had a lot more ideas that I didn't use.
There was the idea to make the boys dino fossil eggs that they could crack open to reveal a toy dino inside. I saw some recipe using coffee grounds and such but I don't really have a good source of coffee grounds. So then I thought of making eggs out of sugar molds. But In the end I didn't get around to it.
I remembered too late that jell-o sells jiggler egg molds. I didn't have 6 weeks for shipping, so I checked e-bay. . . "vintage" my eye! Then I realized I could just have my mom mail me hers. . . except she apparently was vacationing at her mountain-top cabin. Totally inconvenient Mom! So that idea was out.
Instead of hyper-colored Easter eggs I thought it would be great to make them look more dino-y and spray paint them with that speckle spray paint. . .
And the greatest idea of all: little straw pith helmets. . .
Yeah that would've been awesome.
So obviously the helmets were out for the cost reason--though they really weren't that expensive (see I'm justifying) and would have been great. Other ideas didn't make the cut because of time and effort.
But even though I left things out did I still go overboard?
The cost of the party was really pretty low. I made a homemade cake. we reused old Easter eggs and brown paper produce bags. We decorated only with toys and the pictures the boys already had.
We bought a pack of plastic dinos and some dino fruit snacks for prizes--really the most expensive thing I bought was the chocolate rock candy. (But really--soooo worth it. They looked awesome!)
I loved how the party turned out. I loved doing the party for my creative outlet as much as for Owen. Some may say that makes me one of those crazy wannabe-super-moms. But am I?
I maintain that people don't entertain and socialize as much as they used to and I think that should be changed. So I use my child's birthday as a "socially acceptable" time to do that.
Owen has now had a "friend" birthday every year except for the summer we were away on Jer's internship. As of right now I think I'd find it hard to not have a party every year. But who knows--with three plus kids I may get tired of the hassle.
On the other hand with three plus boys we may just be able to have fun parties where we go crazy with a "boy theme" of choice, and enjoy it just as much simply within our own family--no outside friends needed.