It was a bitter-sweet moment. As I stood waiting to purchase the Dairy Queen ice cream slab cake – knowing every bit would get eaten in the next week – I mused about the 20 years I have spent planning and running kid’s birthday parties. As my kids age, it looks like my days as a party planner are soon over. A few simple errands – helium balloons, ice cream cake, movie rental – are all that is required these days. But I fondly remember when themes were the thing.
– An April party for where we glue-gunned silk flowers and ribbons to straw hats and had a tea party. (I burned myself on the glue).
– A cowboy party where everyone got a cowboy hat, my great friend Brenda provided a beanbag toss tepee and ring-toss cactus and we had “burgers, fries and sasperillo juice” – what the heck is that anyway?
– A bring your Barbie sleepover, with a Barbie cake (the doll in the middle – the cake the dress) and a pin-the-ponytail on Barbie, made by using the over-head projector to project a Barbie colouring book picture onto a wall and tracing it onto flipchart paper (don’t ask what office I was employed in at the time).
– Numerous “rent the pool” parties where 30 kids could come for a supervised swim and then have pizza and cake. I’m embarrassed to admit that one year the birthday boy didn’t even go in the pool. He just wanted his whole class at his party (and of course, wanted 30 gifts – which I am also embarrassed about).
– A close-to-Christmas party were every kids made a gingerbread house to take home. Not bought houses, but ones made from a homemade cardboard cutout pattern and homemade gingerbread. I spent days making the pieces. The day of the party I was so sick that my great friend Brenda took over until I recovered. Imagine trying to get a roomful of little boys and girls to hold the walls together as you pipe the icing. Remember, homemade pattern. You get the picture. They were thrilled to take them home on cardboard trays covered in tinfoil.
– Numberous LaserQuest parties where my husband, on the pretense of chaperoning, played so hard he won (against a bunch of kids).
– So many party games, which my husband was great at finding on the internet. Like using foam swords to round-up the balloons. Duck, duck, goose. Hot pototoe with a wrapped gift, and when the music stops, you get to open it and keep it (you have to have eagle eyes and make sure every kid gets a gift). Etc.
Those days are gone. They were fun. But I wouldn’t want to start it all over again.
Oh, and the loot bags. Thank goodness for Dollar Stores. But it can add up. Older kids got a full size Tobelerone with a helium balloon tied to it.