Remembering the “Good Old Days” by Stacey Honowitz
Remember when it was time for you to have your birthday party? Your parents gave out invitations which were basically a card that read “your invited” and the inside told you where, when, and the number for which you were to RSVP. The venue was your basement, or your parents living room, and the menu of consisted of the usual staples. There was always a big bowl of potato chips, pretzels, and those big, fat, orange powdery cheese curls. The jackpot was the bowl of M&M’s and the main meal was pizza and a cake. The goody bags were stuffed with maybe a peds dispenser and a candy bracelet, and we were thrilled non the less. There was always a good game of duck, duck, goose, followed by a twirl and a stab at pin the tail on the donkey. If you were really special, mom and dad ordered the guy to show up with a pony and take you up and down the street.
Gone are the days of the “house party”. We have now moved up to the world of “affairs” and outdoing other parents. I have witnessed first hand the planning now of these parties, and the lengths that parents will go through to make theirs the best. The question then becomes, are they out to impress their friends or do they want to make this fabulous for their kid? I guess it could be a combination of the two, but for whatever reason I think the joy of ice cream and cake coupled with a pointy hat is now in the distant past.
Case in point, my daughter was invited to a party of another little girl in her class. The child was turning four and everyone in the class was invited. The printed invitation was “not off the computer” and included beautiful cutout animals on the back to go along with the theme of the party. The party was being held at the zoo, and so attached to the printed invite was a separate box. When you opened the box, out came adorable little stuff animals to carry on the theme. When my daughter brought it home, I thought she was being invited to a bat mitzvah (when a Jewish child turns 13 and there is a big bash) rather than a four year olds’ party. My child was super excited and I was looking forward to it as well, just to see how happy she would be.
The party was unreal. The pavilion at the zoo was set up like nothing I had ever seen. The tables where all set in the theme of the zoo, there were tons of animals at each child’s plate, there were sippy cups for each kid in the form of something zoo related. There was a table with chaffing dishes full of food, and a dessert table chock full of cupcakes, lollipops, and then the “main” cake. There was private session with some animals, and entertainment for the kids. All in all it was a fabulous party, but I looked over several times and saw the birthday girl, who kind of was just walking around oblivious to what was going on. I hope she had a good time, but was she able to appreciate the party?
When it was time to leave, there was not a paper goody bag filled with mini snickers bars. There was a canvas bag with a shoulder strap given to each child, and within that bag was a barbie knapsack, along with a barbie kit that included all the necessities, no candy bracelet here!
Listen, I know the kids had a great time, but how do you compete with that. I don’t begrudge the parents that can afford an “affair” like that, but I will tell you that at some point I need to be able to explain to my kid “you are not having a party like that.” I am starting a movement to do it old school, not worrying about “what should we feed the adults?” and bringing back the house party. The good old days of pizza, cake, a good game of pin the tail, and the goody bag made of paper with a clown on it that will put you in a good mood for the ride home. Everyone will be on an equal playing field and you feel special cause its your day. There is something to be said about just hanging out had having fun, and licking that orange stuff off of your hands.