Things I Learned This Weekend

Posted by on June 16, 2008

Things I Learned This Weekend — this weekend being the weekend of my son’s 3rd birthday party…

I should note that the poor little tyke had been screwed out a proper birthday celebration for the previous two years thanks to the all-important family reunion beach thing, put on by the huz’s clan, that we’ve attended for the past 15 years or so.


See, it just so happens that mah precious babay’s birthday falls during THE SACRED WEEK and thus, we cannot have a birthday party at home because nobody on the huz’s side would drive their tired asses 25 minutes in from the beach to attend AND IT WOULD BE SELFISH OF US TO ASK THAT…even if it was his first birthday, which is, to most people (like his parents), somewhat of a BIG EFFING DEAL.

So we celebrated his first birthday at the beach and it sucked. It couldn’t have been more of an afterthought but who cares because, you know, HE’LL HAVE ANOTHER BIRTHDAY NEXT YEAR.

Last year was the same kind of nonsense, more or less, and P’s birthday was something of a non-event. We opted not to do the family reunion thing, which was being held 3 hours south, and had a small party with a few close friends. Woo hoo.

This year, I was determined to give P his very own full-fledged kid party and that’s what we did. And it was cool. Everyone had fun. And considering that it was held outside at a park, it wasn’t even that hot. No extended family members were in attendance, as expected, and we didn’t care. It was a great party.

I tried to make the party as green as possible but dude..not as easy as it sounds. We did, however, bring an empty box and collected all the recyclable stuff. Also, I totally broke from standard kid party operating procedure and didn’t give out a treat bag full of useless crap because seriously, does anyone need anymore plastic whistles or mini yo-yo’s or ball-bearing puzzles or tiny bottles of bubbles or themed pencils and erasers or mini-packs of crayons or plastic slinkies floating around in the back seat of their car or in the junk drawer or under their kids’ beds?

I also didn’t have the kids do one of those pre-fab foam crafts, which, no offense, has got to be the stupidest waste of time and resources ever invented. I hate those foam door hangers and visors and crowns etc. that you make them sit down and decorate. I can’t tell you much of that junk has entered my home over the years. Seriously. Cannot stand.

All I sent the kids home with was their booty from the piñata (Smarties and Sweet Tarts) and a punch balloon. Remember those? it’s a big latex balloon with a rubber band handle and you bop it back and forth against your knuckles? Now those? Are a fun parting gift. And they’re latex which is biodegradable. I know…am genius :)

Now, as promised, here’s the short list of what I learned this weekend:

1) Just blow up about a hundred balloons because they were the most coveted thing at the whole damn party. Kids kept accidentally popping them and then asking for more and when there weren’t enough (because they were supposed to be decorations!) there was some balloon-stealing and subsequent fussing going on (this includes the 4, 5 and 7 year olds, too). Next time, I’m just going to pass out a bajillion balloons to the kids and everyone will be happy as shit.

2) Don’t buy anything your kid actually likes for a piñata. Case in point — my son loves trucks and construction equipment so we got him a piñata shaped like a dump truck. Um hello? When your son sees everyone beating the crap out of the piñata shaped like one his favorite things in the world? It’s not going to be pretty. Next time I’m getting one shaped like a snake because when I showed him one outside the other day? He no likey.

3) From now on, I will always make food for the grown-ups. Because the party was at 10am, I made two quiches (one vegetarian, one with sausage and cheese) and they were totally gobbled up. Doesn’t it suck when you go to a party and there’s nothing but kiddie-crap set out to eat?

4) No matter that your son has never seen Cars or Spiderman or Batman, simply because he is a boy, some part of every gift, whether it’s the wrapping paper, gift bag, card or the present itself, will feature the aforementioned marketing juggernauts. It’s, like, a rule.

5) You DON’T have to have a specific theme for a party. I know all the party stores and party supply catalogs would have you believe otherwise but really — you can break that silly rule and nothing terrible will happen. I used party stuff from previous years’ themes (Thomas the Tank Engine and Fire Trucks and some generic red plates and napkins) and picked up a few other things emblazoned with construction equipment and cute frogs and Curious George and we just rolled with the totally unmatchy-matchy anti-theme theme.

6) People do not care how obnoxious certain toys are or how much they make you want to rip your ears off. They will buy them for your child anyway. And then LAUGH about it.

Amazingly, the whole party went off with absolutely no stressing out on my part — a miracle I can probably attribute to a minute dose of physician-prescribed Xanax :)


  • Jodi says:

    Okay, so I have to know – was this sacred reunion event actually going on while you were in the hospital delivering your little one? Did anyone visit you and the baby, or did they wait until after the reunion?

  • 3 things. 1). Punch balloons are the funnest thing in the history of the world. 2). I like the balloon advice. I’m going to buy 1000 balloons and a 1000 band-aids. What’s with the kids and band-aids? All they wanna do is invent owies for band-aids. And 3). The mix & match party themes is awesome. You were shooting for Green but you slipped in a value for diversity in there too. Nice party move.

  • JayMonster says:

    I much prefer the punch balloon over the stupid ball and paddle, where the rubberband would break after a bout 5 minutes of use when I was a kid, and even less now.

    I LIKE the craft idea… at least better than the bag o’ crap. Especially spring time. We had one party where we bought little clay pots, let the kids paint them, then after they dried, put a plant in each one for the kids to take home. (crafty AND eco-friendly).

    What exactly would you expect on birthday wrapping paper for a boy? Sure you could use some generic boring wrapping paper, but you are not saving any money, any time (probably would take more time to find it), or resources on the “non branded” stuff. Though, I have been pressing my wife to use bags rather than paper for gifts we give, as at least they can be reused.

    And finally, as much as you want to call it “no theme” you just made your own “all-boy-non-theme” theme. :)

  • mayberry says:

    Hey, that is exactly what we gave out at my son’s party too! I think we are a trend. It sounds like your gala was fun for adults + kids — perfect!

  • I think the best part of your party is that you were really green and it was done at the park. It makes it easier to clean up and guests will not tear your house a part and clog your toilet.

    I love number 6 beacause my family, my parents and sisters to be precise, tend to give birthday gifts to my children that they know will drive me crazy. So my solution to this, I take the toys to their houses and when we are visiting, I let my children play with them. That’s what you call feeling my pain.

  • Angel Smith says:

    Once we went to a 4th of July bbq at my F-I-L’s, and when our girls got fussy, (they were almost 1 and 3 at the time), we got ready to leave, but the in-laws said, “Hold on, we have presents and birthday cake!” So, since my step-son’s birthday is July 5th and my daughter’s FIRST birthday was the 9th, I assume they mean for both kids.

    I was wrong. No one even REMEMBERED her first birthday.

    So, anyway, I feel ya, on that end, and I’m glad that you found your own way to celebrate his birthday with the people who felt it was important to be there.

  • motherbumper says:

    After reading pointer two, I couldn’t stop thinking about getting Dora pinata and giving myself some stress relief a la the office over in the field out back but I’m afraid I’ll be jumped by an angry mob of preschoolers.

    We have tried to do the commercial theme thing ourselves but it never fails, Dora, Disney Princesses, or Cars make their way into every celebration. GARG!

  • kittenpie says:

    Right on every score.

    This year, the kids painted flower pots, and I put flowers in them to take home. I also gave them each a t-shirt and book instead of tacky gift bag. Tied with reusable cloth ribbon, so no real packaging.

    We didn’t have a theme, or even real “activities.” They played for a while, did the painting craft, played for a while, had lunch, went outside for a picture, and went home. Simple, fun, uncommercial. And done at home, so dishes were washed, leftover food composted, and no real waste to speak of.

    And good for you for putting your own little bunch first this year. Maybe you can alternate, the way some families do for holidays?

  • Great ideas, I’m checking out the punch balloon for grammology. And food for the adults…is a great idea.

    Thanks so much, glad all went well for you. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and make a family decision..yours sounds like the right one.

    Dorothy from grammology
    remember to call your gram

  • yes, yes, and yes. that’s the way kid parties should be.

    good for you! and good for your son.

  • Cristina says:

    LMAO about the pinata. Poor P! I totally would never have thought that that could be traumatic. Now I’ll know to get M a Cinderalla pinata instead of a Bob the Builder. Heh! This post comes in perfect time for M’s bday party in two weeks.

    Glad everything went so well :)

  • Great post! I love the pinata part too oh and the loud noisy toys that are going to drive you insane that is a good one. Sometimes I think they pick out those toys on purpose so it will drive you insane. Ah, adult humor.

  • Holly says:

    I confess I used to give obnoxious toys to my nephew on purpose… And now I’m a parent. Paybacks are hell, as they say….

  • motherofbun says:

    We had a party for our kiddo recently. When I mentioned recycling, my sis and mom looked at me like I had two heads. I ended up going through garbage and doing alot of bottle, can, plastic, paper, versus reg trash sorting.

    Mmmmm. Birthday cake! And quiches.

  • Asianmommy says:

    You’re right–there are never enough balloons! Especially pink ones. :)

  • Christina says:

    You’re so right about the balloons. We got a balloon bouquet last year, and it was Cordy’s favorite part of the party.

    We have family who never come to the party each year because they can’t be bothered to drive to the other side of town. (rolling eyes)

    Sounds like you had a great time, though! And I love your idea of making food for the adults. I’m doing that next time.

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