My eldest daughter is about to turn seven and the heat is on to produce the perfect party. Let's face it: These parties are as much about impressing the kids, as are the fancy cookies we serve at the playgroups.
When I turned seven, my mom invited a few neighbourhood children into our living room. We played pin the tail on the donkey and Simon Says. We ate hot dogs and cake, and sat in a circle while I opened my gifts. Everybody went home with a pinwheel, a Tootsie Roll and the memory of a great afternoon. But that sweet, simple celebration just wouldn't cut it today. Not unless the donkey was the real deal, and the part of Simon was played by pop star Lance Bass.
Creating a birthday party theme
I have a friend whose kid is a Harry Potter nut. For her daughter's birthday this year, she transformed each room in the house into a different store from the infamous Diagon Alley. She stayed up night after night sewing black capes and pointy hats for each of the guests to purchase from Madame Malkin's Robes for All Occasions. She even made a seven-layer birthday cake in the shape of the Sorting Hat. At the end of it all, each of the party attendees trotted home with their own snitch ball and the bottle of butter beer they had cooked up with Professor Snape in the dungeon. Not too shabby. This mom should have no problem showing her face around the schoolyard.
Hiring entertainment for birthday parties
I know another woman who routinely rents one of those huge balloon castles for her kids' party guests to go nuts in. It costs a few bucks, but it's a guaranteed winner. Sometimes, there are pony rides. Magicians. Face painters. Rock-climbing. Mad scientists who make putty and set off rockets. Once, I heard about a mom hiring the Wiggles to perform in the backyard. But that might have been an urban myth of the kids' party circuit. In any event, it all makes its way back to the guests' mothers, who watch with dread as the party-planning bar inches ever higher.
The importance of your child's birthday
For Kenya, I'm having a couple of "entertainers" drop by with their disco ball and boom box. To the stylin' sounds of pop idols Britney and Justin, they will instruct the youngsters on the finer points of hip-hop dancing. There will be finger foods and punch. Hair and cosmetic services will be provided prior to the dancing. At the end, the kids will go home with nifty plastic cases filled with little pots of make-up and sparkly jewellery. The whole thing will cost me about $300. But it will be worth every dime to see Kenya's shining face as the celebration swirls around her. And that's what it's all about, after all -- not what the other moms will say about me and my little party at their coffee klatsches. But I do hope the kids remember to mention the disco ball.
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