Birthday parties come in all shapes and sizes, but with kids it doesn’t matter how large or small—they are all noisy! I have had all sorts of experience with 8 kids, home parties, away parties, and just small dinner parties. As the kids got older the parties were smaller, but were more expensive and still pretty loud.
I loved making the cake, and although I'm not a professional, they were not bad. I think that even I, for a time, thought I had some real artistic talent. Thank God I didn’t invest in that kind of business; the creativity was short lived. One of my proudest achievements was a sea monster cake, the monster was in the sea (of course) and eating gummy worms. I put it on blue mylar paper and it really looked like water. It was brilliant and everyone loved it—it was my "swan song" for cakes. I couldn’t top it and the kids were getting more hip. I was not up to Maggie’s request for a cake with Madonna’s face on it, so I retired.
The first birthdays were simple, just family, and I never let the 1 year old have more than one piece of cake. Many of my friends let the birthday boy or girl, have the entire cake to eat/destroy. I knew that no matter what happened I was the cleanup team, so one piece, in the high chair was all I could handle. Being only a year old, the birthday boy/girl, did not feel slighted in the least.
We started a rule that you could only have the number of kids at your party that you were in age. This rule was such a relief after inviting an entire class of 26 to a party. The only thing I can remember about that event was the number of party goers. I guess the brain is kind in helping you forget things that are very unpleasant—such as childbirth or in this case an unwieldy gang of 26 kids at your home. Even the kids wanted small parties after that. We would send invites to the children's home so no one, not invited, from school would feel bad.
Sleepovers, for a time were a big deal. When Tim was 11 or 12, we let him have a party with school and hockey buddies. We fed them dinner and cake, and they watched a movie, with popcorn, bowls of skittles, M&Ms, and tons of soda. When it was bed time, we couldn’t figure out why they would not settle down, DUH! We could hear all the talking, laughing and fooling around and could not get to sleep ourselves. I made the fatal mistake of saying, “Ok, the next voice I hear will be sleeping on the floor in my bedroom”, the room went silent—except for Eric—who joined Jim and I to sleep on the floor of our room, for the rest of the night.
Remember my nickname is Bullets.
The one birthday I thought I really nailed it was Maggie’s 6th. I had a GREAT cake and I was picking all the kids up at school, we were going to McDonald’s for lunch, then home for cake and games. The plan was flawless.
Being a planner/organizer, I had the cake on the table early with everything set up and hopped in the shower. I came out to find that Tim, then 2, had climbed onto the table and put his cute little fingers ALL through the cake. We were off to the bakery to get a birthday cake, then to McDonalds.
As I pulled into the driveway with a van full of giggling girls, I saw a 6' 4" bear sitting on our front steps holding a balloon. Our sweet neighbor, Bill, a pilot for Northwest on his day off, heard about the cake fiasco and thought he would cheer us all up as the birthday bear. Balloon or not, a huge "real" bear is a pretty scary sight for a bunch of 5 year olds. By the time we reached the driveway, all the kids, except Maggie, were crying and wanted to go home. Bill pranced up to the window of the van, waving and moving his head, but not one of the kids got out. It took Bill removing the costume and going home to get the kids out of the van and into the house. After a lot of fun and cake, just before I left to take the kids home, I was able to get a picture with the bear and the kids without tears.
After that we had a Rainbow bright parties and Paint Yourself Silly Parties, but no 6’4” bear parties.
- Know your audience. If the bear is 3 feet or more feet taller than your guests, it is not a good idea
- Simple is great. You could even try “Pin the tail on the donkey” (I think that is still PC, but I could be wrong.)
- Kids love little prizes for games. No video games, just old fashion games that get everyone involved are a hit.
- Do whatever makes you feel good. If the party giver is happy, it makes all the party guests happy too.