It was time. The time to answer the dreaded annual question of our children’s younger years, “How will we celebrate the birthday this year?” I say dreaded rather pointedly, as I am not a huge fan of the classroom birthday party. I pretty much loathe them. When Mary Tyler Son was three and in his first year of preschool, the invitations started coming. I had no idea. He got about 12 invitations that year. Many a weekend were spent standing around the periphery of some big common space or other celebrating a child’s milestone. He loved them, every one. I didn’t.
Don’t I sound like the worst Grinch ever in the history of Grinches? Also, if you are one of the mothers who invited me, I am absolutely, positively, definitely not talking about your child’s birthday party. Your child’s birthday party was exceptional and amazing. I loved it. Truly.
Around that time I remember chatting with his teacher one morning and telling her I would be writing a blog post about our decision not to host a classroom party. She gently pulled me aside and told me I probably shouldn’t, that I might want to hold off until he no longer went to that school. Whoa. Welcome to the World of the Child’s Birthday Party as Political Landmine. I had no idea about that either.
This year, Mary Tyler Son entered kindergarten. There are 28 children in the classroom. Surely, I thought, this would mean the end to all the classroom parties, or parents, very sensibly, opting out of inviting the whole classroom. I was wrong. Lots and lots of families were hosting lots and lots of big parties inviting all 27 other kiddos. Yikes.
We had already decided against a classroom birthday party when another mother approached us with the idea of combining a party for three of the boys in the class whose birthdays were grouped together. What’s that, you say?! We were intrigued and it took us about 30 seconds to commit. To date, that might have been our best decision of 2014.
The party was held last weekend and it was an awesome success. Not because it was better than any other party we have attended to celebrate a young classmate’s birthday, but because the cost and labor were split by three. It was the best socialist birthday party ever!
Think about it. Those parties are a lot of work. With 28 kiddos invited and many parents opting out of drop-off practices at this age, we had a bunch of adults, too — about 50 people total. That means pizza and cake for 50, not just 28. It adds up. And speaking of adding up, our grand total was just shy of $700. And this for a modest park district party with all food from Costco. Nothing fancy here, folks. Plastic tableclothes, a few balloons, chips, fruit, cake, vegetables with dip, water, juice. That is what $700 gets you these days.
The beauty, though, is dividing up cost and labor makes the socialist birthday party for kiddos totally commonsensical. It’s genius, parents, and I highly suggest you consider it for your own little ones!
It also makes hosting a party for our son feasible in a period of time that has been chaotic at the very least. My Dad has been hospitalized since mid-December, we had a holiday vacation thrown in there, then a few days of school closures thanks to extreme weather conditions. Seriously, there is no freaking way I could have pulled this off alone, financially or labor-wise.
The only thing that gave me pause about the whole event happened when I was standing in line to purchase decorations. I looked down into my cart and realized there were three “6” birthday candles. The way they were arranged I saw “666” — now no one wants to go to that party! It proved not to be an omen, thank goodness.
As for the boys, they seemed to love it. Not a one seemed miffed that they were not being celebrated enough. They blew out the candles together. They didn’t even miss birthday gifts — keeping with the socialist nature and not wanting to suggest every guest bring three separate gifts, the three hosts asked for no gifts and instead encouraged book donations (new or used) for the classroom library. Win freaking win!