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The Birthday Times have Changed

Oh how times have changed.

My favorite (and only?) birthday party as a child involved having a few friends over to play pin the tail on the donkey (I cried because I didn't win) with four friends (one of whom I was forced to invite). We had cake and I got a few presents.

I didn't go to many birthday parties, either. They simply weren't done very often. I remember missing one (Scott B's) because I had chicken pox or the flu or something. I don't remember many others.

But these days, wowee. At certain times of the year there's a birthday party every week, including the one that just concluded here. We opted to go the route of having it in-house rather than renting a place for two hours.

The party was a "tea party" and the invitation instructed the 14 girls who were invited to wear their fanciest dresses. Upon arrival, the girls decorated cookies, a frilly, flowery straw hat, and colored a teacup for Pin the Teacup On the Saucer (which we never got around to playing).

Each girl had her photo taken in our makeshift "professional" photo studio - their photo will be mailed to them as part of the thank you note1. Following the photos, tea was served. The meal consisted of peanut butter and jelly finger sandwiches, ham-and-cheese wraps, cookies, delicate chocolates, a fruit punch (fruit juice + ginger ale), pineapple-strawberry skewers with a lemon meringue dip, and other goodies like pastries, their decorated cookies, etc. The white linen tablecloth was decorated with pink flower petals and the plates and teacups were fine china.

Every girl's favorite part of the tea was that they each had a small silver bell, which served as their name placeholder, which they were instructed to ring when they needed anything. Carey, my mother-in-law, or I, serving as maids and butlers, assisted the girls with their needs.

Following tea - which lasted longer than we expected as the girls had a blast with their bells - we opened presents and then played a few games of "pass the flower" (i.e. hot potato). Winners received necklaces. Upon leaving, girls without necklaces got one, a small bag of more decorative, dainty chocolates, and kept their bells and hats.

Two of the girls, on their way out the door and into the sudden and severe winter weather, remarked to their mothers that this was the best party they'd ever been to.

The cost was a bit less than what would have been required had we hosted the party at, say, a gymnastics place or any other kid's place, but the prep work required was near tenfold. The comments of the two girls and the smile on the birthday girl's face, however, made it worth every penny and every bit of effort.

Footnotes

  1. Guess what I'll be doing later today…

7 Responses to "The Birthday Times have Changed"

  1. Oh my, I can't wait for my daughter to reach the age where these things are expected.

    I'm bookmarking this page for future reference, say in about two years.

    Credit to you guys for such an amazing "tea" party. What's on the the agenda for next year? Scary thought there... πŸ˜†

  2. Kevin Hillabolt said on November 17, 2008:

    What's on the the agenda for next year?

    Ha! As of right now, nothing! πŸ™‚ But that will no doubt change within the next, oh, 300 days or so.

  3. Enjoy hosting these parties at home while you can! Eventually they move on much more expensive environments. We'll be throwing a 9-year-old party for eight girls in a couple weeks at a local rec center with a few hours of pool/waterslide/lazy river time, plus goodies and food. That's actually a pretty cheap way to go compared to the spa party my daughter went to last year, complete with a pink limo that picked up all the girls on the way to the salon. (The girls love it, but this is all driven by the competitive moms. They girls are just as happy doing a sleepover with movies and permission to stay up as late as they want. Or at least they're happy with it in elementary school!)

  4. DJ said on November 17, 2008:

    Enjoy hosting these parties at home while you can! Eventually they move on much more expensive environments.

    We did the expensive thing last year. And the year before. This was better, hands down.

    At some point, we'll simply stop doing them. As I said, I had one birthday party. She's already surpassed me three times over, and she's six. πŸ˜›

  5. [...] know those photos I took of the girls in the "professional" studio (i.e. the playroom/craft room in our house)? Wal-Mart [...]

  6. Here's an idea for a future "party." Tell kiddo she can take two friends to the mall for a day of shopping. We did this last year. She invited two friends, and we gave each of the girls a $20 gift card to spend however they wanted at the mall. Also included was lunch and a movie. This was by far the cheapest party we've done, and it thrilled two 8-year-olds and a 12-year-old to hit every store at the mall and come up with scenarios for how to stretch their $20. They ended up getting matching bracelets, stuffed animals and pillows that they use for sleepovers. The total cost was around $100, and the girls had a blast. My wife went with them and followed them from a discrete distance so the girls felt like they were out for a day of shopping on their own.

    The only hard part was that it was a party for three, not eight or 12 or more. But it's always hard to pare the guest list - some kids are still having parties where they invite every kid in their class.

  7. Man… I wish I had cool parents like you guys. I'm almost 18, which is crazy there, and I've only had one "party." Well I guess two. If you can call it that, where I invited a few girls over to stay the night, in the 4th grade. My mom told me the next day, never again. It never did happen. lol Except, for my 16th birthday party, I just told like 6 friends when we were having a little party with the family and they just showed up '"unexpectedly" or so my mom was told. hah.

    In like 15, 20 years from now, when I have kids her age, I hope to do stuff fun like that with them. They will always remember these kind of fun memories.


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