Friday, March 19, 2010


When my girls were young, we were constantly hauling them to birthday parties. At a minimum, they were invited to two per month--and most times there were more. I don't know how kids' parties are done today, but back then no one had parties at home. My girls were invited to pool parties--a room was rented at a local hotel and the kids used the pool--or to McDonald's or to the roller rink. I even believe one of them went to the local university's phys ed complex for a day of 'fun.' But one thing is sure, none of the parents wanted to put on a party in the home. Except for me.

I got very depressed when I realized that parents didn't want to be bothered to put on parties for their kids. They much rather paid someone else to plan, cook, and organize parties than to put in the time and effort needed to do something their kids would remember. And I vowed to never pay someone else to put on a party for my girls--and I didn't.

My girls didn't get 'full-blown' parties every year. Some years they just had a couple of friends over for a sleepover or we brought them to see a movie. Part of the reason was because for each birthday, I had to put on two or three celebrations. First, we had a party for friends, next we had one for the neighborhood kids, and then we had a family party--which usually was the biggest of the three. By the end of 'birthday weekend,' I was a wreck--and it took me many, many days to recover.

Instead of buying a cake from a bakery, I taught myself to do cake decorating. For many years, I made decorated cakes every month or so--sometimes for practice, sometimes for an occasion. Along with the cake, I made all of the food served, did all of the decorating, and planned the activities. And even though it was an exhausting endeavor, I'm glad I did it all. I believe I made memories that will last for a lifetime.

One party we had for my youngest was an old-fashioned birthday party. The kids played pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey and drop-the-clothespin-in-the-bottle. We played musical chairs and hot potato. Everyone got goodie bags and there were prizes for all of the games. Hot dogs and potato chips were served, the gifts were opened, cake and ice cream was eaten, and the kids went home--tired and happy. If I remember correctly, there were almost 20 girls at that party.

The party that stands out for the oldest was the one I put on when she was in fourth grade. That year I bought the gaudiest, boldest, and most obnoxious make-up I could find. I gathered hair accessories and clothing and let the girls have a dress-up party. To this day, girls that were at that party still mention it to the oldest. They had a great time and it was one of the most successful parties I ever put together. Now, I'm not too sure the other parents thought that the entire episode was so great: The girls looked like cheap street walkers when they left my house. I let them leave without washing their faces and there were some frightened and upset looks on some of the parent's faces when they saw their little girls--and I loved every minute of it. :D

I certainly hope that I just had to deal with some lousy parents in my day--and believe me, there WERE some pretty awful ones. Maybe parents are learning how much their kids welcome the time and effort they put into something, rather than how much money is spent. At least, I hope this is the case. Besides, I think I had just as much fun as the kids did whenever I 'threw' a party.


Ranger Tom said...

I've got to say you and my mom would have gotten along FAMOUSLY!


cmk said...


Anonymous said...

I have to say I don't remember my birthday parties, which were held in the house, but I do know that I would have been very disappointed if my mom hadn't made the cake herself. I guess kids today grow up expecting "off site" parties, they don't know any different.

meleah rebeccah said...

My mother threw my birthday parties much like you did for your girls. She never paid other people to 'put things together' and I have to admit, that made for many memorable birthday experiences for me too.

cmk said...

The party I remember from growing up was my 13th--it was a surprise party. Other than that, the rest were 'normal' ones--something that today's kids just don't get that often. But I still say the parties at home were the best.