Thursday, July 28, 2011

Learning to Let Someone Else do the Work

            Both of my boys have summer birthdays. So for the past six years, we have thrown a huge family barbeque to celebrate both birthdays. We invite family and friends and fire up the grill and have a great time. It has gotten bigger every year. I throw another detail into the mix each year. The first year it was just food, drinks, a cake and a little favor for the kids to take home. Then there was a pinata. Next organized games. And then prizes. It was exhausting, but I loved it. Entertaining is fun for me. I’m a planner at heart and this kind of thing is right up my alley.
            Because we celebrated a day other than either boys’ actual birthday we also had smaller celebrations with just the four of us on their days. Owen wanted to play mini golf and go out for pizza. James wanted to see a movie (plus popcorn and candy) and have dinner at an Italian restaurant. And there were presents. What’s a birthday without presents? By the time August rolled around our credit card bill was a little scary.
            So this year I told the boys we needed to scale back. We could either throw the “in-between party” (as it has come to be known) or they could have individual celebrations. But we wouldn’t do both. They had always envied their friends’ mid-winter celebrations at bowling alleys, gymnastics facilities, and other indoor venues. So it was no surprise they chose to celebrate individually away from home. We had Owen’s party at a local mini-golf place. My preparation involved, making a couple of phone calls, ordering a cake, putting together goody bags (which the boys helped with), and handing over my credit card.

The party cost me a small fraction of hosting a party at home the way I’ve been doing it and I didn’t make myself (or my husband) nuts preparing. I'm beginning to understand why no one I know has children's parties at their homes these days. As you can see, the kids had a great time. It was a fun and relaxing day for all of us—now that’s something to celebrate.