Prior to Jack’s first birthday, I had this idea that kid birthdays were boring and our non-parent friends wouldn’t want to come. It’s not that kid birthdays were boring to me, just that I am aware I am in this parenting bubble where everything my kid does is uber interesting. I know that others might not share my interest. Then Jack’s birthday came, and our small apartment was packed with people, most of whom were kidless. It was readily apparent that they were having a great time, and everyone was extremely excited to see Jack’s reaction to the gift they had picked out for him. It was wonderful watching Jack enjoy his special day, and I will always have this memory of celebrating with all of the people who love Jack and had been there for us at various times during his first year of life. Suffice it to say, I was surprised at the enormity that is the first birthday.
Last night we attended a birthday party for my boss’s 2 year old daughter. I did not hesitate in accepting the invitation because now I know that kid birthday parties are fantastic! After acquiring a small gift for the birthday girl (the book The Gift of Nothing* because the invitation said no gifts** and I am ever so clever), we drove into San Francisco, the city welcoming us with festive lights strung across the Bay Bridge and around the buildings downtown.
The party was just as wonderful as I thought it would be. There were toddlers everywhere, and they were highly entertained by the mylar helium-filled balloons shaped like dogs, with feet weighted to the floor. I picked one up and barked at Jack. He was startled at first, and then he giggled uproariously. He begged for more and chased the dogs all night. He also had a great time playing with the birthday girl’s toys. It was a whole new world for him, drawing on the easel with crayons, shaking maracas, and pounding on the toy piano. Gotta love going to other people’s homes to test out toys!
My boss dressed up as Santa an hour into the party to hand out gifts to all of the kids. The kids were terrified! One little girl kept repeating, “No more Santa!” over and over for the rest of the night. Jack was mostly ambivalent but as soon as we got near Santa to get his present, he started crying. We quickly got his gift, a book, and redirected his attention by reading it. I felt for the kids, I really did, but it was also amusing to watch them freak out over a big guy with a white beard and red clothing. Only two of the kids (who were decidedly older than the others) out of ten enjoyed Santa. Poor kids! And poor Santa!
Jack’s second birthday is seven months away, so presumably I have a lot of time to plan, but with as much time as it takes to do anything these days and as fast as time is flying, I want to start thinking about this now! (Have I mentioned I’m a planner?) There is so much to be done! With that in mind, I’d love to hear your best (cheap, practical, yet creative) ideas for kid birthday parties. I open the floor to you, dear readers!
* Do you know about Patrick McDonnell’s books yet? I had to resist buying them for every kid I know! I bought Hug Time for Jack but want them all.
** I did check with her parents first to make sure it was okay to get a book.