Friday, April 20, 2012

A History of Birthdays

My son Doodle Bug is the light of my life. I'll admit, he's perhaps a bit spoiled as an only child, but his father and I can't help but want the best for him. Like any other parents, we are heavily involved in his schooling, we keep him engaged in sports and playgroups, we monitor what he watches on tv and tuck him into bed at night with a kiss and a hug. As he grows, I'm seeing less of a child and more of a person in him. Perhaps that is why each year his birthday parties have been growing in complexity.

His first birthday was a family-only event with a simple green jungle theme. We had animal cracker snacks, green streamers and images from Disney's Jungle Book decorating the walls. I went overboard and ordered a half-sized sheet cake for a whole 6 people to enjoy. I set it before his curly little head and he gummed and poked it. The green icing was so strongly dyed it took three days to un-green his face!

Life got complicated for us shortly afterwards and I was rarely in a position to have the time, nor the funds, to plan massive parties for my little man. Birthdays 2 and 3 were spent huddled with family, sharing homemade cakes.

By his 4th birthday things were back on track in life and I branched out. I sent out official invitations to family and friends, ordered a cake and rented the back room at a family restaurant. The theme was simple: 'Things Gabriel Likes'. It came down to everyone playing a round of Hands Down with him, finger painting and then racing toy trucks.

Birthdays 5 and 6 consisted of a few quick and easy birthdays at Chuck E. Cheese. Heck, every kid need a "location" birthday right?

For his 7th birthday, life had caught up to me again and we were having a horrible financial year. Alas, my party-planning bug had bit again though and I tackled a Transformers themed party on a tighter than a shoe-string budget of $45. I put foil on the walls to make our game room look like a Cybertronian base and hung streamers in the colors of Optimus Prime. We ate Transformers themed foods, like Energon [green jello cubes], and ate a Transformers cake. The movie played on the big screen tv and we played with a lot of transformers toys. Alas, no pictures that year.

Life has been better for our little family and I've gotten smarter about how to find good deals and how to have a party on a budget. Doodle Bug's 9th birthday ended up being one of the largest and more complex events I've ever hosted. The theme morphed a few times but eventually became "Super Hero Academy" and the fun was catching. My fiance's mother pitched in loads and I hunted for great deals on everything we needed to pull it off and ended up having a party full of costumes, games, prizes and food that was attended by 30 people and lasted almost 4 hours. We spent around $200.

It can be done, on any budget or no budget. I will be blogging about themed parties I've created, and clusters of ideas for themed parties in general. More soon to come....

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