My kids get birthday parties with their friends every other year, when they turn an even number. They are really challenging for me to put on, because they give me a lot of anxiety. I am not really an anxiety person most of the time, but I kind of get that way at birthday party time. The anxiety comes from the social dynamics of the occasion and it stems from childhood social trauma and my introvert personality, but that's not what we're writing about today. I just had to give you a little background.
So, birthday parties. I have learned a few things about how to handle them better. Rule #1 for me is "don't have it at the house." I learned this the hard way. Renting a facility cuts my stress level in half, and it doesn't end up costing much more. Rule #2 for me is that while my children are welcome to give me input (and they talk about their birthday parties for years before they happen) the theme, location, activities, and guest list of the parties is subject to what I feel like I can handle (emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially).
I do the best I can. I always want to put on a really fun party for my kids, and even though the parties don't end up as elaborate as what the kids schemed up during their months of dreaming or as what you see on Pinterest, they always have a great time.
So anyway, it was an even-numbered year for both Roo and Rabbit. They both have birthdays in February so before we have always done a combined party for them. (Bean and Fish have gotten combined parties too, since their birthdays are a day apart.) But this year, every time I would start to think about the combined party I would get really anxious. So I booked two parties at the YMCA back to back on a Saturday afternoon. It was more than a month after their birthdays before I finally got everything put together, but they didn't care.
So, the Rabbit's party was first. We invited her entire Kindergarten class, plus some friends from church. There ended up being 17 kids there and they played happily and noisily together in the indoor playland. It was wild and crazy and FUN.
For those who asked me for gift ideas, I told them art and craft supplies. She got a TON and she has had so much fun with them.
After the Rabbit's party, I took a deep breath, swept the floor a little, changed the table cloth, and then Roo's friends showed up. This party had a completely different dynamic. She invited all girls and several people couldn't come, but we still had a good group. I took them swimming, and then we had pizza and cake and presents. It was a lot of fun.
I bought everything for the parties at the dollar store, even those cute wings that Roo's guests got as a favor. And I made their cakes from scratch (that part is fun for me!) The cakes were the most time-consuming thing. Other than that, the whole operation was actually pretty easy, and quite stress-free, which left me free to deal with my own special personal anxiety over the dynamics of interpersonal relationships. And that all turned out fine. So the parties were a great success and my children will remember them fondly. And so will I.