Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Birthday Parties: Bonanza or Bust?

I’ve been thinking about the whole party planning process lately, and I’ve come to kind of a sad realization – by today’s standards, my parties just wouldn’t have cut it.

Today’s birthday parties aren’t just parties… they’re “experiences”. Experiences with tightly packed agendas, themes, entertainment, and more.

Today there are party planners dedicated to ensuring that every last detail is planned and in line with the birthday’s “theme”. Hmm… epic fail on my end, as I’m pretty sure that growing up my parties’ ‘themes’ were “Birthday Party”!

Ponies? Only if Barbie happened to get one to add to her Dream House.

Themed costumes? Do the cardboard party hats count?

Indoor playlands, beauty salons, craft centres, sports extravaganzas…? Nope. How about our living room? Or perhaps our backyard, if the weather cooperated. Actually, I do remember one particularly rousing party held within the confines of the McDonalds’ train caboose one year… Ah, good times…

Masterpiece cakes? Nope. Big thanks to the various grocery store offerings, or the few “homemade” efforts (thanks, Betty Crocker!). I do remember one year my mom cobbled together a particularly impressive Raggedy Ann cake, complete with licorice hair, etc., but the creativity was killed by my “pre-party sampling” that wholeheartedly destroyed her efforts! (Sorry, mom!)

And don’t even get me started on the “money cakes”… They were awesome! Random coins baked into a cake – and you got to keep whatever you could find. Sweet! If you choked on one or cracked a tooth, the general consensus was that you should have been more careful. Can you imagine the lawsuits and social media chaos that would erupt today?

And those tightly packed agendas jammed with swimming/laser tag/craft-building/circus events/and more? Can they really compete with musical chairs, hot potato and pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey?

And speaking of games, there were those who won, and those who lost. And if you lost, it sucked. But you sucked it up and got over it. EVERYONE didn’t win, but everyone had fun.

Let’s face it – times have changed. The infamous bar has been raised and we all have the choice to keep up with the proverbial “Joneses” or blaze a new trail. Rest assured, whichever path you choose, your kids will most likely never remember if their napkins matched their loot bags. But they’ll remember that you were there and took the time to make their day special… with whatever that entails.

Now, where did I order those amazing Batman-themed cupcakes last year…? ;)

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