Thursday, March 13, 2014

Kid's Birthday Parties, Then and Now - A Lot's Changed.


How to Throw Kid's Birthday Party in the 70s

1. Call up all your friends on the block and tell them to come over around three this Saturday for a birthday party.

2. Get a box of Duncan Hines yellow cake mix and bake it. Decorate with a can of vanilla frosting. Food coloring can be added if desired. Red #2 is quite appealing to children. Sprinkles are also fine but don't go overboard.

3. Don't forget to buy a 5 gallon, clear plastic tub of vanilla ice cream. The kind with no label that costs about $1.50 for the whole thing and melts into a big pile of foam.

4. Twist a few crepe paper streamers and scotch tape them above your picture window in your living room. If you're feeling mighty generous, you may also blow up a few balloons and toss them around the living room. 

5. Haul the card table and folding chairs up from the cellar and set them up. You are now finished decorating for the party.

6. Find a kid with chicken pox and invite him to the party too so that all the other kids will get it and be done with it.

7. Mix up several pitchers of Kool-Aid. Dump potato chips into bowls. Open a can of Planter's Cheese Balls. Be careful not to sever a finger on the metal lid. You are now finished with the party food.

8. See if the Sears catalog has that ridiculous Ice Bird snow cone maker thing your child sees the commercial for after Hong Kong Phooey and keeps fussing about. If they don't have it, oh well. Get her a Slinky and some Silly Putty. You know she's just going to play with it once and get bored anyway and before you know it, she'll be right back to wrapping a bath towel around herself, jumping on the sofa saying she's Isis.

9. Wrap the birthday gift in the funny papers from last week's Sunday Times.

10. At the birthday party, loosely organize a few games. Simon Says is good. Also have the children stand on a chair and attempt to toss clothes pins into a mixing bowl on the floor. After that, play musical chairs to the Grease soundtrack on the record player. That's enough. The kids don't need to get too wound up.

11. Sing "Happy Birthday," cut the cake and take some pictures. Be sure to buy extra flash bulbs for the camera just in case. Serve the cake and ice cream on some paper plates with plastic spoons.

12. Send the kids out into the yard until their parents come to pick them up.

13. Before you child can play with any gifts, make him sit at the kitchen table with a pencil and a pad of paper and write Thank You notes to everyone who came. Tell him if he doesn't hurry up he'll miss Emergency! when it comes on at eight.

14. Go make yourself a White Russian and light up an Eve; freshen yourself up a little so you don't look like a Sleestak.



How to Throw a Kid's Birthday Party Now

1. Decide on an event location. Visit several. Question your Facebook parenting groups accordingly for opinions.

2. Hire an expensive caterer. Ask them to make pizza, chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. Even though they are expensive caterers.

3. Attend several cake tastings. Consult Facebook again. Post sample photos of potential cakes to all social media outlets asking for input. Making a decision between fondant and buttercream is hard.

4. Find a handmake cake topper of your child's favorite character on Etsy and order it. The have your baker recreate it out of fondant and spun sugar.

5. Hire a photographer for the event. Show them at least 15 twee mommy blogs whose candid, yet quaintly natural style you'd like to copy. Then show them the Anthropologie catalog and tell them you want the photos to look kind of like that. Yet not. But sort of. You know, right?

6. Obsess over Pinterest for cake table decorating ideas and search desperately for someone to make you a bunting EXACTLY LIKE THIS ONE that you saw on Pinterest. Go buy lots of cake stands and tall glass jars to copy the exact look.

7. Go to a stationery store and pore through books of sample invitations. Choose one and include a professional photo of your child to personalize. Send it out several months before the party actually occurs.

8. Audition entertainers. You want to have at least two costumed characters, face painters and balloon animal makers.

9. Rent your bounce house.

10. On second thought, go ahead and rent a petting zoo too.

11. Worry incessantly over head count. How many parents will be present? Will guests be bringing siblings even if they weren't specifically invited. Is that rude? Wait no, maybe it's rude to not want siblings and all the siblings should be invited too? Oh my God! This is SO STRESSFUL.

12. Take a Xanax. Holy crap, have a Caipirinha too even though you can't even freaking pronounce it. Insist that you see them make it with Splenda. Wait, how many calories are in Cachaca?

13. Begin dieting for party.

14. Have your low-lights touched up, get a gel mani-pedi and spray tan. 

15. Buy an expensive costume for your child to wear. If you have a daughter it must involve an exceptionally large tutu. There must be tulle. Lots of tulle. And a tiara. Possibly wings, but definitely a tiara.

16. Have your party planner assemble themed, gender appropriate goody bags as party favors.

17. Decide at the last minute that you need a separate menu for the adults. Call caterer in hysterics.

18. Oh my God. Call the caterer back. There will also need to be gluten free, dairy free and vegan options of every single menu item and absolutely no peanuts.

19. If Toys R Us is out of the "must-have" toy of the season, go to extreme lengths to make sure you get that toy in time for the party even if this means finding it on eBay for $600 and driving four hours each way to pick it up from a woman named Wanda Lee who lives in a trailer and is a hoarder. Eww.

20. Since Wanda Lee is also an animal hoarder, take home at least one kitten and one puppy from her trailer. You have to save those animals. High tail it out of Leisure Land Central just as the A & E cameras pull up with the 1-800-GOT-JUNK trucks.

21. You totally forgot to call a DJ. Blog about this immediately. Use A LOT OF CAPS LOCK. Post a selfie where you look super upset but your lipstick is perfect, of course.

22. After the party is over, worry if you've tipped the vendors enough.

23. Mail out the pre-printed Thank You cards that all say the exact same thing and have a picture of your kid on them just like the invitations did. Not having to write them out for your child is so so so much less stressful.

24. Leave for a much-needed vacation at a nice all-inclusive in the Bahamas. Be sure to bring the nanny with you.

41 comments:

jenjellybeans said...

Omit the cheeseballs and smokes, and you have a pretty good description of my daughter's most recent birthday party. Did any of the five year olds say, "Where's the bouncy house? Where's my personalized souvenir tiara? Where's the build-your-own organic ice cream sundae bar"? Nope. They had homemade cake, opened presents, and ran around like crazed monkeys. Success!

Anonymous said...

What I don't understand are these huge BD parties that have bars for the adults, and then it ends up in some fight or shootout and people get killed...at a kids birthday party...What a way to commemorate your childs birth...

catherine

Dayna said...

Loving the vintage blogging.

My blog, My Life, My thoughts said...

Amazing...people assume that adults at a party drinking a beer is going to result in shootings and killings..Really??? Where do you live?

My parents threw 3 kids bday parties until we were 18...they were never catered, home made food, both kids and adults attending party...and yes there was always alcohol for the adults.

My brother and Sister who both have kids continue the tradition of the bday parties and they have all be safe and fun for the kids.

I guess people think if its a kids bday its okay to drop of kid at a party and come back an hour later leaving your child in the responsibility of another parent who is already stressed out with putting on a party for their child.

Scalab said...

You have no idea how much I am hurting laughing right now. Made my day!

AJ Collins said...

I am laughing because I go to modern parties like you described but throw home-made birthday parties complete with games, boxed cake (um... tastes better than store or bakery bought to me!), and thank you notes written out (and left in his backpack for the next month... but that's a different issue), kids always rave about our "home-made" parties for weeks... something about going to someone's house.

Anonymous said...

Why do people feel adults need to be at a child's party. As a n adult yourself you should be able to handle your child's friends. After all how many children are there? Sounds like today's parties are more for the adult than the child. Get your priorities straight!!! Loved the "old time" parties as did my children and now my grandchildren. Only time adults came were for family only birthday parties/dinners. By the way we still do large family Sunday dinner at least once a month, too

Anonymous said...

lol. what? where do you live?

Anonymous said...

Agree that parents of the invited kids do not need to be at the party. Its a party for kids not adults. All the adults end of talking to each other, not even paying a bit of attention to their children, so why do they need to be there? Play a few games like pin the tail on the donkey or pass the hot potato, open presents, have the cake and ice cream and a few simple snacks. And make sure parents know what time they need to return to pick up their kids

Anonymous said...

For our daughter's 15th we had food and cake and volleyball in the backyard and then we took them tubing on the nearby creek. Ten years later parents tell me their kids said it was the best party ever!

karynkirke@mac.com said...

I know, seriously?

Christine Burke said...

This was just epically awesome!!! Love it!
-Keeper of the Fruit Loops

Caressa said...

Great memories at the homemade parties! I guess the now parties you are referring to happen at the country club and by people who live there because my children have NEVER been to parties like that!

Jaimie L. Moore said...

Fan-FREAKING-tastic.

Kelli Travis said...

I have seen custom invitations for a 7 year-old's birthday party that must've cost the parents' more than I budget on my child's gifts!

Katie Drane said...

This is hilarious and SOOO true! I love it!!

Katie

Anonymous said...

While I hear you, my three year old was invited to a recent party where his whole preschool class was invited. something like 16 kids were there. sorry, but I don't think it's fair to ask two adults to run after sixteen kids, so other parents were there to help. Now, granted, we had a family only party at our house for our kid, but I really don't want to be responsible for a dozen kids when we do have a party, so bring on the kids parents!!

Minnesota Morning on KMSU said...

THe reason we go with our child to a party is because he's autistic... to prevent any melt downs and harm to others. Otherwise, our neurotypical child is good to go on his own...

Anonymous said...

THe reason we go with our child to a party is because he's autistic... to prevent any melt downs and harm to others. Otherwise, our neurotypical child is good to go on his own...

Anonymous said...

Love this! I am a young mom but totally not into the fancy parties. I am all about simplicity and not interested in pinterest. As far as adults attending or not attending - I think whatever floats your boat in that situation. Neither is right or wrong. I think some like adults because they enjoy socializing while kids play but I also can totally understand just making it a "drop your kid off" for about couple hours too. My mom always had a "helper" mom friend there so all my other friends just got dropped off. In some ways, not having to worry about entertaining all the adults can be a lot less stressful too - just have a helper, play some games, and eat some cake - then after 2 hours, moms come and pick up their kiddos. Again, whatever floats your boat but to me it's all about SIMPLICITY :)

Jilly said...

I have to say the 70's is spot on. but today's is crazy. Maybe that is what is shown on tv, but not really happening. I usually send out Evites, cake is from the grocery store, but it is ordered with some stupid plastic character on top. We go somewhere, Chuck E Cheese, ice skating, Pump it up, etc, but we eat the frozen flavorless pizza served there with sprite or root beer (no caff) and give out the cheap party favors. May or may not open presents depending on the time allowed at the venue. Kids are picked up and someone else cleans up. All for a few hundred $

Anonymous said...

Its customary where I live to drop the kids off if they are older than say.. 6? As a host I actually find this easier than navigating all the adult needs and adult awkwardness. Plus then I have to have enough food/cake/chairs for the adults too.. I keep b-days super simple, I invite maybe 4 - 6 kids usually, and the kids just hang out and have a good time. Other families do this too around here-- but I have a boy-- maybe the parties are more extravagant for girls or younger kids? I have always been too poor to host a catered party. Sometimes we invite them to a pizza place, or bowling.. but that is about as complicated as I get.

Anonymous said...

Best party my sons and their friends ever had (the friends and their parents still talk about it) was a 12th bday for middle son-we devised a track and field (with water features-baby pool) course and they had ice cream sundaes (home made). It was the much copied, hit for two years in our area. Low cost, high energy output (for kids) and easily adapted to any age.

Jack said...

Parents...Please don't get caught up in arranging fancy birthday parties for your children, especially your younger children and please don't have them every year. Not only does it put pressure on the marriage and obligate others, kids become overly spoiled. A spoiled child becomes a spoiled adult who never is content with what he/she has. Do you want that for your child?

Jack said...

Parents...Please don't get caught up in arranging fancy birthday parties for your children, especially your younger children and please don't have them every year. Not only does it put pressure on the marriage and obligate others, kids become overly spoiled. A spoiled child becomes a spoiled adult who never is content with what he/she has. Do you want that for your child?

Anonymous said...

my daughters bday is christmas eve so we always had her birthday party 2 weeks before and it was always simple. we'd have a second party on her birthday with family and some close friends kids in one room adults in another

Natalie Pennock said...

I think the "now" group is referring to a VERY small group of people. Like very wealthy upper manhattanites. I think the author is forgetting that the rest of the country doesn't live that way.

Becks said...

I agree, after 6 yo, I assume the parents are leaving. I have a girl. her last party, I decorated the spare room with streamers and balloons and set out all the nail polish I owned. I think I had a craft where they painted their own masquerade masks. that was it. pizza, cake, chips. done.

Anonymous said...

I think that all of the comments which have said parents need not attend were indicating that the parents don't need to be there if the kids are 6ish or older. No, it would not be good for two people to wrangle 16 3 year olds...

Anonymous said...

SO amusing! I raised 2 girls and 2 boys in the 70's, with home-decorated Betty Crocker sheet or cupcakes, some nutritious kid snacks, and some junky special occasion favorites, served on juvenile birthday paper plates. Have enough helper parents to manage the kids, as needed by age, number, and chosen activities. Invite the neighbors or pre-school class -- max 10 - 12. Whole elementary school class is too many; we are not supervising a schoolyard recess, and not ALL 35 kids really like playing together that much. Pin the Tail on the Donkey is a must until they outgrow it. We graduate through sandbox to silly relay races,to backyard pools, to off-sites like roller rinks (now all gone), outdoor amphitheatres (in the park with stage, cement steps/seats, surrounding trees to run and chase up and down and around), Chucky Cheese, batting cages, etc. Adults get the same food as the kids, and usually choose not to take much more than a few wicked M&M's with a small piece of cake and ice cream. After all, it is only around 2 hours at a KID party and they are HELPERS, not guests. The favor bags had to contain a little candy, a SURPRISE, and take home a balloon from the decorations. Keep gifts simple, inexpensive so they can be opened during party. The guests should have enjoyed selecting the gift, and will like to see it in the hands of the birthday child, who is graciously receiving them. We are learning social skills. Any extravagant gifts should be confided to the host parent and reserved for later. Children are delighted by simple things until adults teach them to be competitive about elaborate parties and gifts (eventually prestigious clothes, cars, colleges, ad infinitum).
ENJOY the happy kids, clean up quickly, relax, talk with your kids about the event and the fun, and any lessons their observations suggest. Write thank you notes very soon.

Anonymous said...

Love this blog. So true!! My 18 year old survived many old-fashioned birthday parties with tug-of-war, bobbing for apples, relay races and when we felt fancy, pinatas.

Sara said...

Not necessarily. I make custom invites for all my kid's parties. If you're mildly proficient with photoshop or even a free online photo/design program and know how to order photos online from Walgreens, you can typically get 16 invites for about $2.

Steggy said...

I keep re-reading that comment and I'm pissing myself laughing. is it meant to be funny?
"and people get killed...at a kids birthday party" hahaha omg. That's like my dad saying 'why would I want to get shot?' when I ask if he wants to go shopping in Chicago.

Anonymous said...

It's a joke people. Yeah there are quite a few moms who throw fancy parties like that (or something like that) but the ones I know actually like that sort of thing and spend their mommy-free-time doing that instead of relaxing (no thanks). OR they have a lot of money. Or they waste money they don't have. But, reality is, most of us are out here just trying to get the kid to the next birthday and making sure they have a few friends to play with rather than throw a giant party with. And the actual parties (when they do happen) are fairly simple: Cake or cupcakes. Chips. Pizza. Juice boxes. Bubbles. Crayons. Balloons. A hose. Good bye, nap time.

Jenny Noble said...

I agree that a lot has changed for birthday parties. When I was younger, we had cake and played games. However I don't think that this is necessarily such a bad thing. Times have changed, and so do the customs. At my daughters birthday party last year she and her friends played games outside and then watched a movie, and they all loved it! I think there are so many clever ideas for birthday parties now of days. http://www.nickelrama.com/Group.htm

Shelly Slader said...

I always hold my kids' birthday parties at some location besides my house. It's a lot easier to take them somewhere where they can run around and play and not make a big mess for me to clean up afterwards. My kids love it because it's a treat for them to go somewhere fun for their birthday. It's been a success for our family. http://www.funcity.com.au

chrisharmen said...

Every kid wants their party to be the most memorable and enjoyable one. So special panning is required to make this event successful.A birthday is the most memorable day in our life so everyone wants to celebrate enthusiastically and make it the most perfect and a memorable day.

bryan flake said...

My daughter is seven and wants to have some friends over for a birthday party. I would rather take the kids somewhere to get their "sillies" out, instead of them running amok through my house. What is a great type of place that can offer activities and food for the birthday event?

http://www.brownslv.com/birthdays/

send gifts to philippines said...

70's birthday party is funny, I am a 90's baby so I experienced some of it.But for me any parties are perfectly fine and exciting!

Tonia kalra said...

Great ideas! Thank you for sharing! wedding rentals in broward

Grace Osorio said...

Sounds like it was awesome! I had the same parties growing up and I was just happy about having cake & running around with my friends!

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