Birthday parties. We’ve thrown them, we’ve been invited. Being a parent for over a decade, my kids have attended dozens (hundreds?) of birthday parties. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. Everyone is happy celebrating their special day.
Everything was simple back in the day. Growing up in a family of six kids with a pack of neighborhood friends, we. had birthday celebrations for the whole year. It was simple cake and ice cream in the backyard, no fuss, no invitations, no special waivers or directions to places you’d never been. It’s only as a parent that I experienced the whole gamut of parties, from informal to complicated.
You’d think by now I’d have the whole birthday prep mastered. I’m talking only about as invited guests here. The buying of the gift, the card, writing the party on the calendar, informing my kids whose birthday it is, etc. I’m afraid the passage of time has not garnered more efficient results. Things seem to deteriorate with each passing year.
It doesn’t matter if I received two weeks notice for a birthday party, and in the meantime, I had been to Target a zillion times, I still buy the gift the day of the party. I give myself a huge pat on the back, if I manage to remember the gift the night before.
One must not forget the wrapping and the card. If it were up to my husband, he would just plop an unwrapped present onto the gift table. No card, no bow, no nothing. Unwrapping a present is fun, is it not? Newspaper would be perfectly fine, although this seems to be a luxury we can’t afford and is not an available option.
If you’re time-challenged like me, the most desirable method is to use that recycled gift bag you hope you still have. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Good for the environment, easy on the pocketbook. Everyone is happy, and this is why no one writes anyone’s names on the little tag that is attached to the gift bag.
Even better if the recycled, gift bag happens to fit your selected gift. I know I’m really slacking it when my criteria for choosing a gift is whether or not it fits in that last bag that may or may not be laying in the closet. Did I just say that? No, I didn’t. Since, of course, I’m in a huge rush and have waited until the last possible minute to purchase a gift, didn’t check the closet and it’s the third birthday of the month, I determine that probably the only gift bag left is too small, and if I don’t buy a bag I’ll have to dig up some crinkled holiday paper…oh, I give in…I buy a bag!!
To make myself feel better, I rationalize that I will be economical by NOT buying a card. In a Mary Poppins moment I think…The children can make their own cards. Homemade cards are more thoughtful, meaningful, crafty, and creative. We still have a craft box in the cupboard, don’t we?
This past weekend, my boys were invited to the same party, so I thought it would be reasonable for them to make a card together. The two of them could come up with one card, couldn’t they?
Per usual, in the last, mad minutes, it was done in pencil with a couple scribbles and sign of the name, quickly without much thought. I began to doubt my decision about not going the store-bought route.
“How about a little color?” I plead. “What about a little picture? A few flowers? Stars?” Anything…I only start to panic when I’ve forgotten exactly what time the party starts and where it is. The invitation is not on the fridge or anywhere, so it must be an Evite, and I now must relocate that.
My older son Holden completes the card-coloring task. He is, in fact, quite pleased with the outcome:
All that is needed is for his little brother Skyler to sign the card. When he doesn’t, Holden adds his own explanation:
“Hey,” he says to me. “Do you think we could get that card back? I can give it to her next year.”
Oh, bless him. It is a delightful card and I’m just brimming with happiness that he is so proud of his creation. I break the news to him, “I’m afraid cards don’t work that way.”
But, it’s not a bad idea. He may be on to something.
P.S. I know all about the gift card, in case you’re wondering.