The Perfect Party

PERFECT: having all the qualities you want in that kind of situation

I frequently complain about modern children’s birthday parties.

I have written about the torture of spending sunny weekends in oppressive warehouses filled with loud music and germy inflatables.

I have complained about elaborate goody-bags that blur the lines between giver and receiver and make kids think of birthdays as gift exchanges.

Most recently, I nodded along with Katherine Martinko’s musings about the wastefulness of modern birthday parties and with Nina Badzin’s Case Against Party Favors.

Today I want to write about a birthday done right.

Son attended a delightful party today.  It was perfect.  It was everything I think makes a good kid birthday party: it was small, active and homemade.

Small.  Keeping the guest list small allowed the party to occur in the birthday boy’s home.  The guests played contentedly with the birthday boy’s toys and later enjoyed a rousing game of tag where it wasn’t all that clear who was “it” but there was plenty of gleeful running done by all.  There were enough kids to make it feel like a party – not just a playdate – but not so many that kids ended up feeling left out or on the outskirts of activities.

Active.  The highlight of the party was a group bike ride to a local park.  Watching a group of city kids ride en mass down the neighborhood streets was a beautiful reminder of my own childhood and the freedom and independence that came with two wheels.  Once at the park, the kids happily rode in circles on the basketball court, then hopped off their bikes for a sampling of the playground, and eventually settled on adventures in the boundary vegetation.  The kids frolicked, unfazed by the thunder and lightning, until huge drops of rain indicated it was time to pedal home.

Homemade.  Birthday Mom had a list of hand-written clues that the kids followed to find their goody bags – brown lunch bags decorated with the birthday boy’s own art work.  Inside was a bike bell and spoke card to commemorate the occasion, both of which were expertly applied to each kid’s bike by Birthday Dad.  No junky toys.  No extra sugar.  Just useful and meaningful mementos of a special day.

I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful new trend…


8 thoughts on “The Perfect Party

  1. The pendulum had swung way to far — time to come back. When one of my sons was in 4th grade I think, we bought one of those goofy science experiment parties in a box — the boys at the party made goop,watch water “disappear” and another fun, simple experiment they all did together outside. Everyone was engaged, everyone had fun, it was at our house, and then they had some pizza and cake. We even had pin the tail on the donkey at a party when the boys were really young — now that’s a classic!

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