Guest post by Author and Mom Blogger, Christina Simon.
Depending on where you live, kids birthday parties can be a really BIG deal. I live in Los Angeles where, starting as early as preschool, the competition heats up to see who can have the most “fun” party. I put “fun” in quotes because it’s also code for the most expensive or elaborate party. The most extravagant parties we’ve attended have been at the American Girl Store and private parties featuring numerous entertainers, petting zoos, food stations, fancy catered menus and over-the-top party favors.
I tend to give my kids options for their parties that fall somewhere in between extremely low-key and overly elaborate. With kids’ birthday parties, you never know what can happen. Seriously, we’re talking about little ones so expect the best, but prepare for…anything. I love planning parties for my kids (even though they were born 8 days apart!).
My daughter is 10 and my son is 7 so we’ve had a LOT of birthday parties over the years. Most of them have been incredibly fun and very special. We love looking at party photos years later.
Sure, a few of our parties had minor problems. I won’t go into detail about my daughter’s 4th birthday party where one of my friend’s kids punched my neighbor (a grown-up) in the stomach. My daughter’s 1st birthday party where the puppet lady was an hour late and got my daughter’s name wrong? Don’t even ask!
Then there were the “Funky Divas” a fabulous dance group that coordinates parties where the girls put on costumes and perform, dance and sing. The only drawback? After the party, my husband told me several of the dads had their eyes glued to the “Funky Diva” dance teachers who they thought were “hot”. The dads (my husband too?) spent the entire time whispering suggestive comments and jokes to each other. Not funny, dudes. Good thing I didn’t hear them!
A few of my kids’ birthday parties have been memorable, each in its own way:
Singing and Storytelling: My Daughter’s 2nd Birthday Party. At age 2, my daughter wasn’t in preschool yet, so her friends were kids in the neighborhood. I invited a singer/storyteller to sing and read stories to the kids in our back yard. I set out blankets and everyone sat on the grass, eating treats and listening to songs or running around. Most of the kids were mesmerized by the singer’s beautiful, soulful voice. After songs and story time (I selected three of my daughter’s favorite books), she concluded the party by leading us in a stunning, R&B rendition of “Happy Birthday” to my daughter. That party remains one of our all-time favorites.
Racecars: My Son’s 5th Birthday. My son loves sports and more sports. But, since his birthday is mid-July and we live in Los Angeles, our party options are limited by the heat. A soccer party at a park is out of the question even in the early morning. There’s nothing that will ruin a kids party faster than 95-degree heat and cranky kids! For my son’s 5th birthday, I hired one of LA’s most popular party guys to come and bring motorized hot-wheel type cars the kids raced on racetracks. The racetracks were long and curved and twisted. The kids had a blast in our back yard, racing the cars around and around the tracks. There were at least 30 kids that afternoon. The girls loved the cars just as much as the boys. Cupcakes followed and then more car racing. The party was so much fun, I had to ask the racecar guy to stay another 30 minutes. My son still talks about this party! (www.playparty.net)
Our Most Stressful Party: My Kids Joint Party (ages 3 and 6). Late July and what could be more perfect than a pool party? Nothing, right? Well, not exactly. I planned a pool party at our former apartment complex, which had a beautiful hotel-like pool. We invited a very small group of families to celebrate my kids’ combined party. At this age, they were still agreeable to having one party. Now? Forget it! The logistics of the party were complicated since getting in and out of the building was a nightmare. Despite my best efforts, some guests were not allowed in the building by security and had to park across the street at the local shopping mall. As the hostess, I felt terrible. And, it rained! But, we raced through the party, sang happy birthday and served the cake. Mission accomplished. Oh and my daughter lost her tooth in the pool during the party! By the end, I was really stressed.
Going All Out: A Cooking Party For My Daughter’s 9th Birthday. When my daughter turned 9 years old, she wanted to have a party at a local cooking school. I agreed. This was an expensive party and the most over-the-top party we’d ever hosted. After selecting the menu they would cook, my daughter and about 15 friends (boys and girls) spent the morning and early afternoon making an amazing selection of salads, pizzas, pastas, cookies and other foods and learning cooking techniques with professional chefs. Then, after cooking an entire meal—and I mean really cooking…chopping, slicing, dicing, baking and supervised sautés, The kids were ready to eat. The food was delicious! This party is still the one my daughter loved the most. I think going over the top for your kids parties once or twice is worth it. The cooking party was one of our favorites parties ever…and the most expensive. (www.chefsinc.net)
This year, since we just moved to a house with a pool, my daughter wants to have a pool party/sleepover for a with a few of her good friends. It promises to be very low-key, inexpensive and fun!
Does your family have a favorite birthday party memory?
Special Thanks to My Guest Blogger:
Christina Simon is the co-author of “Beyond The Brochure: An Insider’s Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles.” She also writes the blog, www.beyondthebrochure.blogspot.com about applying to private elementary schools in Los Angeles and the ups and downs as life as a private school mom.
Christina is a former vice president at Fleishman-Hillard, a global public relations firm. She has a 7-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter. Christina lives in Los Angeles with her husband and kids. She has a B.A. from UC Berkeley and an M.A. from UCLA. Christina has written recent guest blog pieces forMacaroni Kids Santa Monica, Mamapedia, BlogHer Syndication, Open Salon (Edior’s Pick Front Page), The Mother Company, The Well Mom, Reading Kingdom, Girls Lunch Out, Front Page of Divine Caroline, The Twin Coach, A Child Grows In Brooklyn, ecomom, Power of Moms, The Culture Mom, Diary Of A Mixed (Up) Kid and Sane Moms.