On Sunday we hosted a birthday party for my daughter at our house. No, we didn’t have a magician. No, there was no “theme.” There weren’t matching party plates or gift bags stuffed with cheap plastic geegaws for the kids to take home. But yes, everyone actually had a good time! Instead of turning the event into a multi-hundred dollar spending frenzy, we invited as many people as we wanted to and kept things simple. The entertainment was a “Balloon Room” — my husband, father-in-law, and a friend who accidentally showed up a day too early for the party blew up hundreds of balloons to fill our playroom. It was (relatively) easy and certainly inexpensive, and the kids had a blast jumping around, knee-deep in balloons.
We told our guests that we wanted their presence, not their presents, so there was no tearing-through-gifts extravagance. Instead of getting a themed cake with Dora or Elmo on top, we got a plain cake, which Beatrice then decorated herself with sprinkles and colored sugar. And at the end of the party, the kids opened a pinata contained little stuffed monkeys, which they brought home along with bags of balloons (a self-cleaning party!)
In an era in which over-the-top birthday parties dominate, as this scary CNN story shows, I think celebrations can be made a lot simpler. And our children are just as happy — and often better off.