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Question of the Week - Birthday Party Themes

Well, I didn't mean to disappear for a week. Sorry about that. Work is just crazy busy right now. In the little spare time I had from work, kids and sleep, I spent reading books.

Between the two books for my two book clubs this month, I tried to slip in another book. I wanted it to be one I'd already bought, heard good things about and had been waiting to read. My mistake was trying to slip in book 1 of a trilogy. I loved The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, so much that I immediately had to read the next two books (Catching Fire and Mockingjay)! Though I read them fast, I still had to finish my next book club book, which was another amazing book called The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton.

So basically I've spent every spare second with my nose glued to my Nook. (I love my Nook!)

The biggest problem I'm now having isn't even catching up on all the wonderful blogs I read or even writing down the millions of things I want to post about. It's planning my daughter's 4th birthday party.

In a little less than 2 weeks, we will be having her birthday party at our house. It will be a family party, so no huge event planning is needed. But we have had the hardest time coming up with a theme. Last year, we did an Arts and Crafts Party, and it was really awesome. I want to come up with something as fun and cool as that. I think I finally might have a good one, but I need to run it by Londo before announcing.

So I've spent a lot of time lately thinking back to the party themes I had for my birthdays growing up. Which brings us to this week's Question of the Week:

What were some of the best themes you had for your birthday parties growing up?

I have a July birthday, so I had a pool party at least one year. I also had a roller skating party. One year my brother and sister took a clown class and came to my party as clowns, which was so fun. But I think my favorite theme was a costume party, which I did for at least two birthdays. (Is it any surprise that I love throwing Halloween parties?)

What about you guys? Weren't parties different back when we were young? What themes did you have at your parties? What was your favorite birthday party?


hush said…
The last couple of kid birthdays I went to the actual birthday boy or girl either threw a huge tantrum or was crying hysterically for the better part of the party. The other kids had fun though. I think seeing all those toys and feeling territorial over them can be challenging for 3 and 4 year olds. And of course we didn't get a damn thank you note... Or thank you email or thank you text, or oral thank you, or thank you hand gesture. Nada! (End rant.)

Not to get all grinchy with you, but just as an aside - I really don't like the way most kids' birthday parties are treated as so overly precious these days by a lot of parents. (Not that yours would ever be that way!) I'm in favor of keeping it simple and modeling good manners for the kids.

Also, the elementary schools around here insist that the parents invite everyone in the class to their child's birthday if anyone in the class is to be invited, which has caused some controversy. DH thinks this is an effed up, paternalistic rule - I don't know, inviting everyone is probably the gracious thing to do, you don't want to leave kids out.

I'm going to go out on a limb, as someone who is anti-theme-ish in general, and say it is cool to repeat a theme if it has worked and if it would be cherished. My birthday parties from like age 9-15 were always the same "theme:" order a pizza, eat some cake, have some girls sleepover at my parents' house, and get in trouble with my mom the next morning for the dirty jokes and stories she overheard us telling. When I was very little we only had family parties, and I don't really remember them at all.
Katie said…
When I was young - early elementary school - I regularly had costume parties. My birthday is right after Halloween, so we just had everyone come in their Halloween costumes.

DD#1 will be 3 in a few months; I'm not sure what we're going to do, but we're thinking about doing it at a local children's museum with her very close friend who's only a few weeks older. I figure, split the difference in weeks, and it'll be all good. We'll have to see, tho.
paola said…
I don't rmember having many birthdays as a kid, but the few times I did, they coincided with Easter ( my b'day is in April). So the theme was Eastery.

We recently threw our kids a combined birthday party at the local 'bouncy castle' place and @hush, we 'had' to invite all the kids in both my kids' class at kinder. School policy, so if you put an invite in one kid's letter box, you have to put one in every kid's letter box. SO 56(!!) kids were invited. Of course I didn't want 56 kids to come ( usually they don't all come anyway, just the main group of friends), 'cos I'm not crazy, and fortunately 'only' 22 came, but that was already huge considering there were also 3 under 2s and at least one parent per kid!!

It was great though. The bouncy castle people did everything including setting the table, supplying food, cake, drinks and stuff and me and hubby just mingled. Will never do anything on that scale again, my ulcer would not survive organisisng another birthday party like that again.

Oh, and no 'thank you ' in any way shape of form afterwards her either.
Charisse said…
I don't think I had much in the way of birthday parties when I was a kid, until I was old enough for slumber parties. Instead, my dad would make my favorite food and a cake. :)

Mouse, however, is a party kid and went to a party preschool, so the last few have been rockin little ragers. And it can kind of just happen that way - you have to invite the class, people are mad if you don't invite siblings, if kids are too young for drop-off then parents come too...and your simple little party turns into something huge. See below.

For 4, we had a kites & bubbles party out at Crissy Field Beach in SF, which seems wholesome and basic, but ended up being BBQ for about 55 when you counted in all the siblings and parents that turned up. Mr. C had to get out to the beach at 7:45 AM to get picnic tables and we were there until 3. Fun, but exhausting.

For 5, I went with "plannable with a visa card" and we had a Life In The Castle theater party for her preschool class (yes, we had to invite everybody too) at a local children's theater - everyone came in costume and there was a teacher there who helped them put on a little play. Fun, less exhausting.

For 6, Mouse really wanted a treasure hunt...and also had to invite her class, but also had some friends in the other kinder class that she was sad to leave out, and wanted her best preschool pals too. We live in a small urban condo. So....enchanted treasure hunt in a local park! For about 32 kids in the end. I bought a cheap treasure chest online (it's amazing what Google will find for you!) and we filled it with the gaudiest plastic jewelry and chocolate coins we could find. The kids arrived and spent some time decorating treasure bags (brown paper lunch bags). Then the fairy arrived - that was the one splurge - with a mysterious key around her neck. Hmmm.... Then the kids did a treasure hunt through the park collecting magic elements and pieces of a map, eventually found the treasure chest and persuaded the fairy to give up the key. They stuffed their bags with treasure, ate cake, and went on home.

For 7, I am looking for "easy" again so we're going with a party at a local science museum, with a smaller number of kids. I believe the activity will be building marshmallow structures or something like that.
songbird said…
you're supposed to send a "thank you" to the hosts after a party? I always just say "thanks for having us, we had a good time" on the way out.
mom2boy said…
@ paola - 56 kids?? in one classroom?

I never had theme birthday parties as a kid. My birthday is three days before Christmas. I was lucky if I got a present not in Christmas wrapping paper. My mom would bake a cake and I got to pick what I wanted to eat for dinner and that was about it.

I think the bouncy house party was fun last year for Tate's third party. No stress for me and done in two hours. I invited his whole class and maybe a third came which was fine. I sent hand written thank you notes to everyone who came and I've gotten one back from every party Tate has been to this year. Maybe it's because it's a relatively small school? I'm of the invite everyone camp (not 56 though) just because kids are so you're my friend/you're not my friend and I'd rather err on the side of being inclusive unless it's a family only party.

*one of the thank you notes I got back included a picture of the birthday boy holding the present Tate got him. That will so never be me. But I appreciated the effort.
paola said…

28 kids in each class. 56 total.
paola said…
Firstly sorry Caramama for hogging the posts today.


The photo with the kid and gift card is not actually such a bad idea. With 22 odd gifts for our kids ( some without cards), it was impossible to track down who had actually brought what present. At one stage both my kids were maddly unwrapping presents depositing them on the table and then unwrapping the next present handed to them ( and being egged on by dozens of 4 and 6 year olds at the same time). I think I only know the owners of maybe 10 presents, which means the other 12 or so where unaccounted for. Ok a photo of the giver and the present is a bit tacky, but at least you know who gave you the present.

The next day my kids went to another party and learning from the lesson I put post-its on the presents (inside the wrapping paper), so atleast the parents know which present my kids gave. I think I would have really appreciated that for our party.
Cloud said…
I can't remember any themes for my parties as a kid- but they were also a lot smaller than the parties we've been throwing for Pumpkin. I just had a few of my friends over. The day care parties involve inviting the whole class. I'm hoping that once we hit grade school we can shrink down to just the kids Pumpkin is close friends with. @Charisse, you are scaring me!

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