There are lots of options for birthday parties downtown.
- Children’s Museum Birthday
- Science Museum Birthday
- Saints Baseball Game in the summer
- Roller Derby in the winter
But for me, birthdays are when I especially like living in an apartment complex.
After 13 attempts hosting a child’s birthday with the parts I love and avoiding the parts I don’t, I can say that living upstairs from a pool, ping pong table, party room, and public transportation make it much easier.
On the love side:
Singing, special meals, special dessert, friends, family, and anointing a birthday king or queen to be boss for the day.
On the ugh side:
Expectations for presents, goody bags, decorations, disposables, plastic trinkets, the expense, and running around.
Birthdays #4 and #7 respectively were the first times we invited classmates to our swimming pool and party room. We added our bounce house (a relic from our surburban 1000 sq. foot garage plus 3000 sq. foot house days) and let the kids run wild. I made a cake, we sang, blew out candles. That was it. Novel for everyone, totally fun. No extra trouble. I didn’t need to clean my house, pack the car with a 100 things, or write a check. No one seemed to notice or care that I didn’t have banners, noise makers, or party favors. Some parents followed directions and didn’t bring gifts. other didn’t. I loved the ones who didn’t bring gifts, my kids loved the ones who did.
Birthdays #5 and #8, I had to up the ante.
#5 begged for balloons, make-up, and a BIG party with even more friends. I was worried; decorations, getting dolled up, and crowds are not my forte. Thankfully, I was rescued by a fellow pre-school mom whose son has the same birthday. She said, “Let’s team up!” Balloons, makeup (face paint), and networking with other parents was definitely her forte. How did our side contribute? We provided the pool, party room, game room, bouncy house, and food. Sounds fancy, but because of where we live, in my mind, we had the easy part.
#8 wanted GIANT inflatables, our bouncy house was too small. This required some research, but here’s our day, made possible by our central location.
#8 PARTY AGENDA
- Vegan cake from Mississippi Market. Pick up with car. Come home.
- Take 67 bus to Jie Ming. Share cake with class, sing Happy Birthday in Chinese. (Cake delivered by stroller, and served on compostable napkins. No plates or forks needed. )
- Take 67 bus back home with 5 kids in tow. (We are a one car family and it’s not a minivan. To be together, the bus it was.)
- Walk through the skyways stopping by Ho Fan for Chinese take out (one of my son’s favorite places to eat.)
- Eat Chinese, play Foosball and ping pong at our home party room. Swimming optional.
- 5:15pm catch 294 bus to the nearest bus stop to Oakdale’s Pump It Up.
- Walk .5 miles to Pump It Up. (The kids ran instead).
- Bounce, jump, hoot, holler until 7pm when parent’s would come pick up well exercised, well adventured kids.
Side logistics: Dad picked up sister, loaded backpacks into the car, and met us at Pump It Up. Weather was gorgeous, but backup plans were in place for an Uber cab or shuttling with the help of another parent.
I sent pictures and updates so parents got play by plays as I navigated their children through the big city.
The kids had fun, I had fun, and most importantly for me, I didn’t need to decorate, clean my house, or spend a fortune.
My son did notice one difference and commented on it for the first time….
#8: Why are there no presents?
Me: Because I told people not to bring any.
Me: Because you don’t need any.
#8: Yes I do!
Me: Like what?
#8: Minecraft Mods
Me: We told you we’d need another computer in the house to get that. That’s bigger than a birthday present.
#8: A Batman Lego video game then!
Me: Okay, but it’s not coming from one of your friends. Birthdays are about getting together, doing something special, and having fun.
#8: Getting presents IS fun.
Me: Yes, and you get plenty of presents from your family
#8: Don’t tell people not to bring presents next time.
Ugh. One year to figure this one out.
We live in a small apartment. With one birthday in early December, then Christmas, then Valentines Day, then another birthday a few days after. This time of year, every year, I want to pull my hair out with all the candy, plastic trinkets, toys, and stuff that accumulates from all sides. The one area I’ve managed to have some control over is cutting out birthday presents from friends.
The thought of putting cash strapped, busy parents, through the ordeal of buying something my kids will cherish for 24 to 72 hours is crazy. Books and DVDs are free and unlimited at the library. Toys cost .50 cents at the thrift stores and garage sales. Yet, good gift giving etiquette dictates items be bought new.
Hmm… Maybe a toy swap or a ‘certified used’ requirement. Or maybe I can think of something so exciting and interesting my birthday kids will beg to forgo gifts to do it.
Regardless, if we stay home or venture out, cleaning the house or decorating won’t be necessary.