A Joint Birthday Bash

Whew! It’s been a busy few days. I feel like all I’ve done for the past couple of days is get ready for Alex and Stephen’s birthday party this afternoon. I’m not much of an “event planner.” I love having people over for dinner or a few of the kids’ friends for playdates, but being responsible for a full-blown party with decorations and activities and special food stresses me out. And because Alex and Stephen have birthdays so close together (a little over a month apart), I find myself stressing out around this time of year as I start thinking about planning two birthday parties back to back.

Back in February, I wrote about creative ways to reduce both the stress and the consumerism that seems to accompany kids’ birthday parties. One thing I had never considered at the time was the idea of a joint birthday party. But a few weeks ago, a light bulb sort of went off in my head… and I thought, why not? I can throw myself into it, plan a big shindig, kill two birds with one stone (if you’ll pardon the expression), and then sit back and put my feet up and not worry about it until next year. And at this point in my kids’ young lives, a joint birthday party really does make a lot of sense. They have the same friends; they like the same things. I remember having joint birthday parties with my sister when we were younger. It wasn’t until we were older and going to a bigger school where we had different groups of friends (I was in middle school; she was still in elementary school) that we started asking for separate birthday parties.

So I asked the boys what they thought, and they got really excited about it. Alex had already decided he wanted a Mario Kart party, and Stephen was happy to go along with that, as he has really gotten into Mario Kart lately too. There isn’t a lot available here in Ecuador as far as store-bought decorations and such for a Mario Kart party, but thanks to the Internet and other moms with a lot more creativity than me, I was able to cobble together some ideas for homemade decorations, simple activities and games, and a race-track cake that worked very well for 2. (I will probably post pictures on our family blog at some point, so I won’t repeat all that here.) We invited the cousins, as well as a few families with young kids from our homeschooling group — 10 kids in all, a very manageable group!

Anyway, it was a great party, and the kids had a lot of fun. I, however, am worn out and very glad that I don’t have to turn around and start planning another party. For me, to put on my “event planner” hat is truly a labor of love for my children. Don’t get me wrong — I am happy to do it because I want them to know how special and important they are to me — but since I don’t feel like I am naturally gifted in this area, doing things like this will always create more stress than enjoyment for me.

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