Selam will turn 6 (more or less) in October. Because it’s just the two of us, I’ve had parties for her each year; one year at the JCC, which was pricey but easy, the next year at camp which was exhausting (I did it all myself) but sweet and small. This year, I think we’ve hit the happy medium. We are having her birthday at the nature center at the beach. It’s rather cheap for an organized party place (less than half the cost of any other place in town), it’s a favorite place for her, and they provide a nature program. She LOVES their nature programs. All I have to do is provide the cake and beverages and possibly party favors. The nature center’s party area has all these cool things already hanging from the ceiling–any decoration would be redundant. Score. I’m making the cupcakes myself, and we’re doing e-vites instead of paper. Basically, the whole thing is going to cost me less than what I earn in one week of pulpit-supply. I’ve earmarked my last paycheck from preaching to cover it.
So, let’s talk about party favors. I hate goodie bags, yet there seems to be an expectation that there will be a goodie bag or other favor. I do not remember getting favors at birthday parties when I was a kid. Her first party, I got pencil cases and wrote the kids’ names on them and filled them with note paper and crayons and stickers. Last year, I got little buckets and put in totally random nonsense from the dollar store. The theme seems to be no candy (I hear my kid is not alone in never eating it) and I like reusable containers. This year, I found nice, big beach buckets with shovels for 25 cents a few weeks ago. I bought a bunch of them. Is a beach bucket a party favor? Or do I have to put stuff in it? We’re also making some super cute sippy cups for the party that the kids can take home. I’m not fighting the money. I’m fighting the little pieces of junk that fill up my house. Is it better just to go with the flow and buy the little stuff? Dear neighbors and friends, help me out here.
Dilemma the second, the guest list. We are limited by the number of guests that the site will allow. We cannot invite her whole class, which is fine with me because she has very few friends in her class, and 26 kids is entirely too many to have at a party. There is a set of “must invite” friends–none of whom go to her school. So the question is–do we invite a few kids from her class in the interest of trying to make more friends at school? How do we keep those few from hurting other kids’ feelings? (last year we invited nobody from her class). Do we need to invite children who invited her to parties last year? (only 2 of those are at her school and only 1 in her class). Also, she has 8 girls in her girl scout troop, and four are already invited due to her friendship circle–should I invite the other 3? How do you figure this stuff out? I’m tempted to skip her school, just invite the other 3 girls from girl scouts and then 2 boys from church and call it a day, but I do want her to have friends at school. I just don’t know if a birthday party early in the school year is the way to make friends. (Last year she really only had one friend in her class and that girl moved out of the school. She has lots of playmates, but no friends, per se. There is one girl in her room this year that she’s talked about every day–a girl who is new to the class. )
Dilemma the last: Selam has gone back and forth between wanting to ask her friends to not bring gifts and instead collect things for the shelter or book bank and wanting presents. How on earth do I get her to commit to one or the other? Obviously I think donations is a wonderful idea, but it has to be a true desire on her part. I don’t think I can force this on her. My fear is that I’ll write on the invitations that she’s collecting used books and then she’ll change her mind and be less than grateful. Or I’ll write nothing, and a week before she’ll decide she wants to collect for the homeless. I figure we have about another week before sending out invites. So, yes, I’m seriously asking your advice in how to get a 5 year old to make a decision and stick with it. I know, crazy.
Despite these challenges in design, I’m really excited for the party. Last year was so lovely to be at a place she truly loved and this year will be the same. last year, she invited 15 kids and only 5 came and it was still joyous and wonderful and just magic. I feel that way about this year. Selam would be happy to be at the nature center with any of her friends. She has also said that we should be as “nice to the earth as we can” for her party (she’s super into recycling these days), and so that’s been a little bit fun to play with, too.