February 11, 2013
Next Year Will Be Different ...(I hope)
I wish I had never planned to give my boys (born 9 days short of two years apart), large birthday parties this year. I thought I was being smart--renting a room at the park district building for two consecutive Saturdays this month. There would be no stress surrounding the shape and size of my home. No worrying about seating and counter space. No concern for entertaining small, short-attention span children for two hours. (The park district provides a host, theme and games.) Both boys have attended many parties this school year and none have been at the homes of their classmates.
My budget can't match that of the parents who provided a circus tent party for their six year old or the firehouse fiesta for a four year old. Yet I wanted to provide my boys with a memorable (and yes, somewhat comparable) party now that it's their turn.
My first mistake was discounting the importance of invitations. I purchased mine from the dollar store, copied, cut and and pasted the venue information. A far cry from the Tiny Prints personalized photo invitations (with matching thank you notes to be sent after the party). Why spend $60 on these? Because dollar store invites do not solicit rsvps. Apparently no one can come to the boys parties.
Okay, not no one. But nowhere near the 15-17 kids who were invited. (The trend this year has been to invite entire preschool classes; for Henry's kindergarten, I invited all the boys.) I don't know if it's due to the low-key park district setting or the DIY invitations but my e-mail inbox has been flooded with "regrets".
I will be lucky if five children show up at either party. Five is actually a nice number for a casual, home birthday party. You know, the kind I should have thrown in the first place. But five (if that) in a party room? Five kids playing musical chairs and Duck, Duck, Goose? Five kids playing with the giant parachute?
I ordered custom cakes for both boys. Henry had his heart set on a Batman cake. He's never seen a cartoon or movie of Batman. He's never read a comic book. Still, if my boy wants Batman for his sixth birthday, Batman he will get. It's the least I can do at this point. Then there's Liam's cake. CARS of course. But he's already had most of the versions our bakery makes. Finally, I found a special cake that featured Lightning's pit crew but it only comes in 1/2 sheet size. Half sheet cake. Five guests. You do the math.
I'm spending the last few days before Liam's party living in fear of cold and flu germs that will decimate the tiny guest list. Have I mentioned that even without the circus tent, gymnastics coach or firefighters, these parties are stretching my budget? Space rental, decorations, giant cake, pizza, juice, soda, filled pinatas...times two (and in the same pay period at that!) And this is on top of the cost of classroom treats and goodie bags which they will bring to school on their actual birthdays. Of course, my children are worth it. Their birthdays mean the world to me. But if they don't have a good time at their parties and my decisions are the reason for that, being broke will just add insult to injury.
I guess this is another of those lessons learned the hard way. Lately I feel as if I'm taking a course overload...