The Great Birthday Party Dilemma

October 7, 2008 at 5:27 pm (birthday, Sunshine)

So this past weekend was Sunshine’s very large birthday party with her friends.  Daddy and I had gone back and forth for weeks about whether or not we would even have a big friend birthday party.  I didn’t necessarily want to.  I mean, what is it with birthday parties?  They are insanely expensive.  The entire class needs to be invited.  (Not such a small task considering your average Montessori classroom has 30 students.)  Not to mention the fact that keeping 30 3, 4, and 5 year-olds busy and entertained requires nothing less than creativity on the level of Walt Disney.  We’re not even going to talk about the goody bag dilemma.  

My husband’s argument for the party was compelling.  Sunshine’s never had a birthday party with her friends.  She’s had such a tough time making friends at school.  Maybe seeing all of them outside of school would help.  Every kid should be able to experience a big, fun birthday party every couple of years.  It’s a cool part of growing up.   
So I gave in.  I booked a party at Leapin’ Lizards, a really cool inflatable place in Decatur.  I absolutely was not going to try to entertain all those children in our home on 2.5 weeks notice.  Then I started worrying.  What if no one came?  These kids haven’t know Sunshine for very long.  What do we do about gifts?  I wanted to say “no gifts,” but Daddy thought she should be able to experience a party with gifts, just once.  The only party slot available was 4:00-6:30 pm.  That meant serving dinner.  What do you serve 30 kids for dinner when some of said children are vegan, some are kosher Jews, and some just have parents who don’t want anything not organic or free-range to pass across their child’s lips?  Then the goody bag dilemma.
Invitations went out.  A tentative menu of cheese pizza, chicken tenders, and a vegetable tray was planned.  Much thought was put into the goody bag dilemma.  Several ideas were discarded.  Finally tote bags, markers, and foam stickers were purchased.  Party plans were moving along nicely.  It would have been nice if people had actually RSVP’d by the date, but that’s OK.  It’s relatively easy to move numbers around with a party like this.
I was still so anxious though.  I know, I know.  I’m worried about a kid’s party.  How lame is that?  But we’re new to this school.  We don’t know these parents well.  We want Sunshine to fit in.  We want her to be accepted.  We want to be accepted.  What would the parents think about us?  Would we get party invitations after this?  My stomach was churning all day long.  
All in all though, the party went really well.  The kids jumped.  They played.  Sunshine found a friend that stayed with her through the entire party!  She didn’t play alone!  Surprisingly there were no tears, from anyone.  It got a little chaotic when we called the children in for dinner.  I was so busy thinking about what to serve, that I didn’t even bother to think about how I would get all these children plates fixed.  But the other moms there were fantastic.  They stepped right in.  We didn’t really have enough food for the parents to do more than graze.  We probably should have had more.   Oh well.  Sunshine had a blast.  That alone makes it a complete success.  To top that, I even got compliments on the goody bags.  
I’m embarrassed to say that I was so nervous about this.  I know a bad birthday party won’t put my kid into therapy.  I just want her to start feeling a little better about this move, her school, her friends.  I know buying her things won’t help, but I’m hoping this experience did.  I’m not sure we’ll do a big birthday party next year, but she’ll have some great memories from this one.  
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