Friday, March 9, 2012

Birthday Party Angst

I am sure I am not the only parent who starts stressing about planning my kids' birthday parties months in advance.  If you want to rent a venue or hire entertainment of any kind than you kind of have to! 

This year things are particularly tricky.  We are doing a joint party for the girls with family in between their birthdays on May 5th so that the cousins don't feel left out (since they don't know the girls' friends from school/daycare) and the aunts/uncles/grandparents aren't overwhelmed by too many kids running around (aka last year's birthday party!).  But Big A has insisted that not only does she want a separate party for her friends, but she also needs me to bake treats for her kindergarten class AND her daycare class.  On top of that, one of her best friends, Z, cannot have gluten so I have to make gluten-free treats for her kindergarten class and for the party (Z doesn't attend her daycare).  Big A wants the party to be small and at home, but I feel we have to invite 12 kids, because there are at least that many that she plays with and who have invited her to their parties.  That's a lot of kids for our small house! 

In terms of activities, we decided on t-shirt decorating, which is simple enough to organize.  For food, Big A wants lemon cupcakes made into a pull-apart cake.  I haven't figured out how I'm going to do this yet, or whether everything will be gluten-free or I'll have some treats that are, and some that are not.  I am going to serve pizza, and make sure there is gluten-free available for Z.  Aside from that, I think fruit and veggies, popcorn and chips will be sufficient.  Big A's party will probably be a 4pm-6pm dinner event.  I haven't even begun to think about the whole loot bag thing yet!

For the family party we are doing make-your-own ice cream sundaes, which the girls are very excited about.  There will also be fruit and veggies, chips and popcorn, and Life Choices hotdogs and some kid-friendly finger foods.  Since this will also be a late afternoon party (4-6pm), there will also be wine for the grownups.

The situation with Little A hating her daycare makes planning her party especially complicated.  Last week was better, but this week things have been really tough again.  Wednesday was most heartbreaking.  She spent the day with my mother-in-law and as soon as I reminded her of that when she woke up, she was a different child - the happy, joyful Little A we used to see much more often.  When we dropped off Big A at the daycare, she excitedly told all the kids and teachers that she wasn't staying and going to spend the day with her bubbie instead.  Even though everyone assures me that minutes after I leave her every day she is absolutely fine, I am still going to explore whether we have any other options for her because I am sincerely worried about this. 

I am a bit lost about who to invite to Little A's party because most days when I ask her who she wants to invite, she will name only the one girl from her daycare she classifies as a "friend", the same girl the teachers tell me bosses her around all the time.  Sigh!  Today I finally realized perhaps I should skip doing a party for her, and just have the party with family be it.  But I don't want to do that.  I want to make something really special just for her.  She has specified that she wants a pink, round cake - not a layer cake - decorated in hearts.  Ugh!  After trying to make "natural" pink frosting for the heart cookies last year that ended up purple-y brown (remember the sperm cookies?), I am definitely going to have to find a different approach to making food colouring-free pink icing!  For her party I will also serve pizza, fruits and veggies, popcorn and chips, and since she is not reliably napping again - particularly at home on weekends, this party will be an early in the day event (i.e. 10:30am-12:30pm).

We also decided that we will do build-a-bear as the activity, since Little A loves stuffies, and you can purchase kits that require no sewing and are appropriate for 3 year olds.  We are not renting a venue for her party either, seeing as she can barely name a single kid she wants to invite.

On top of my kids' wishes, however, there are also concerns around these events about impressing other parents, or at the very least not offending them.  Some parents invite ALL the kids at the daycare or school, but since we are doing home parties, this isn't feasible for us.  In addition, Little A has insisted that under no circumstances are any boys allowed to come.  Sigh!

We have been to parties recently with magicians, at indoor playgrounds, and at a bowling alley, etc. and all have been great.  We're lucky because in Toronto there are so many options!  We are keeping it pretty simple this year, however, (since that's what Big A wants, and what makes most sense for Little A), but I'm hoping we can do something more exciting in future years.  Also, we are following the lead of some other parents by refusing gifts.  Instead, we are asking everyone to bring $2, half of which will go to a charity of each girl's choosing, and half to be given to them to choose on one gift.  They already have so much, and I love this idea of getting them familiar with the idea of giving back to those in need.

Ack!  Even though this is all happening in late April/early May, I am already freaking out about it.  I don't want any parents to be offended, any kids to feel left out, I want my kids to be happy, I want the guests to have fun, I need to find the time to bake a zillion different cupcakes and cakes, and organize the other food for 3 different parties!  I can see why people with lots of money to burn hire party planners!!

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