Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What happened to my good intentions?

Kids birthday parties are out of control!! I have always thought they should be simple, fun and affordable. In fact, Big "B" didn't have a real birthday party with more than just family there until she turned three. It was exactly what she wanted and met all my criteria for the perfect, little kid soiree. It was at Chick-Fil-A. It was free. There were a total of five children there. Our big splurge was the $15 we paid to have the cow come out and interact with the kids. They played in the play area. We had cupcakes. It was stress free...understated. Big "B" LOVED it!

Fast forward a year. Turning 4 was a little more involved. She was in pre-school by then and had several more friends. There were around 18 children there. It was at Gymboree. There was a fee, but it was very much affordable. The kids had a blast. It was still fairly simple. The only problem is she got way too many gifts that she didn't need.

This year I intended to and encouraged Brooklyn to have her party at the Arkansas Food Bank. They host parties in their warehouse. The kids bring canned goods to donate instead of gifts for the birthday girl. They get a lesson in philanthropy and helping others. It is free. It has a purpose and I thought we'd both feel really good afterward.

Well....convincing a pre-schooler that she would feel good not getting any gifts proved harder than I had imagined and explaining exactly what a warehouse is and why it would make a good birthday party place was even tougher. As positive as I was trying to be, I even found it hard to convince myself. Then I thought maybe this isn't the year. Maybe she'll be able to understand the concept better and get excited about it when she turns six. So then, if we don't do the warehouse....what do we do for a birthday party?

I'm still trying to think small scale, inexpensive, and low-key.

This year we will celebrate both Big "B" and Little "B's" birthday at the lavish Peabody Hotel. We asked all 30 guests to come dressed in their fanciest, play dress-up clothes. Big "B" will be the honorary Duckmaster and get to lead the Peabody ducks to the fountain. The children will be served a "fancy" lunch of duck-shaped grilled cheese sandwiches and french fries (yes, while less fortunate kids - that we could have helped at the Food Bank go hungry). The "paparazzi" (my sisters) will be on hand to snap photographs. You know....small scale, inexpensive, low-key. Ha!

What the heck happened to my good intentions??? I don't know. I let things get away from me. One idea spawned into another and another and before I knew it, we were planning a full-on extravagant event. I know it will be fun. I'm excited about it. The girls are beyond excited about it. They'll remember this one forever. But, I'm also a little disappointed in myself. I feel guilty. I work with children in foster care on a regular basis and I'm throwing my girls the kind of party that those children will probably never have. I want my girls to understand the dangers of over indulgences. I want them to appreciate simple and know the incredible importance of helping others less fortunate. It is something I try to instill on a daily basis, but I may have let this opportunity get away from me. I am making a promise to myself that next year we will most definitely be celebrating their birthdays at the Food Bank. We're going to start talking about it now so they understand and can actually get excited about it.

Until then, I have lots to do to get ready for our Peabody Party. I've got to get party favors, decorations, boas for them to wear, dress-up shoes, make sure the menu is perfect.....OMG...I'm an out of control mommy...throwing and out of control party!!! In the end though...I must admit - it is going to be so much fun watching them celebrate their special day with special friends, dressed up like little princesses! We'll enjoy it for now and work on toning things down for next year!!

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