Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I have a dilemma...

The trend in Abby's kindergarten class this year has been to invite the whole class to each child's birthday party. There have been a few that we missed due to Abby being sick or being out of town, but I tell ya, I have never been to more b'day parties in a seven month period - at least one per month.

Abby loves birthday parties. Noah loves birthday parties. It's a party with cake, ice cream, games, and goodie bags (oh, it's all about the goodie bag) - what's not to love?

At the risk of sounding like a birthday grinch, I've got a couple of 'em -

Pinatas. Even the word makes me nervous. My kids know that Mom does not do pinatas. I've seen one too many blows upside the head in my day and heard one too many awful stories, but alas, two of the parties this year have had 'em. I don't consider myself a helicopter mom who hovers over my kids every second, but when a pinata and a large stick enter the scene, I'm hovering - over ALL of the kids. Stay behind the line! Stay back! Watch out! Sit down! Be careful! and then there's the "running of the bulls"-esque beeline for the candy - kids getting trampled and someone crying because little "Johnny got more than me!"

Not my cup of tea.

The second one (do I dare say?) is the infamous opening of the presents.

gasp! I said it.

Especially at these parties where there are 12 + kids under the age of 6. As excited as the birthday kid is to open the presents, the spectators are even more excited to SEE what is being opened and pretty much smother the poor kid as he's trying to unwrap his gifts. There are at least two or three who try to OPEN the presents for him, a couple more who try to remove the packaging and take out the toy, and one that is practically on the b'day kid's lap. Not to mention the rest of them who are shouting, "I can't see! I can't see!" Parents sometimes try to intervene and attempt to resume some kind of order, but it's really no use...

So back to my dilemma - Abby wants to invite the WHOLE class to her b'day party next month. 17 kids. How could she not? She's been invited to practically everyone else's party. There's no way she can't keep the party under-wraps and discretely invite just a few of the kids - she's five. And how would other five & six year old classmates not get their feelings hurt if she invited some and not others?

So I'm playing around with a couple of options - one of them being to go ahead and invite the whole class for a backyard party, but hold the presents. Of course, I told Abby that she'd be getting presents from Mom, Dad, Noah, Grandie, Papa, etc... She's hoping for a new bike and a Baby Alive. She seems okay with the idea...so far. Honestly, I don't know what we'd do with all those presents. Her room is already overflowing with Barbies, My Little Ponies, Pet Shop figures, etc...

The other idea we talked about having the kids bring new games or books to donate to a local children's home or hospital. We went to a party a couple years ago where the little girl did that and Abby thought it was pretty cool - so we are talking about that too.

Or maybe I just need to not worry about it and let the kid have a regular ol' birthday party, opening the presents and all - except for the pinata.

We are definitely not having a pinata.


Linzi said...

I LOVE the idea of bringing things to donate! I mean - do you real need all that junk? Because, let's face it - that's what it typically is - junk.
If you decide to go through with opening presents - might I make some suggestions?
Elementary kids are TYPICALLY pretty good about follow directions if they are made clear to them. I suggest making some kind of line on the floor (maybe with colored tape or chalk) in a large semi-circle around the BG (birthday girl) giving her about 3ft of space or more. From this spot everyone should be able to see the action but not be all up in the BG's face. Tell them to sit "criss-cross apple sauce" and to not move from the line until they are called. Then allow each child to go stand by the BG as she is opening their present. When she has opened the present and thanked them, they return to their spot on the line and the bringer of the next present comes up.
Children thrive on order. If the directions are clearly explained at the beginning you should have no problems during gift opening time - unless you've got a real stinker who doesn't listen to anyone and their parents do nothing! (Arg! pet-peeve.)
Hope that helps!

Emily Marie said...

I love Linzi's suggestions. That all sounds great! I also believe that it is totally acceptable to ask kids not to bring presents! I know that sometimes parents will still get things, and if that happens, then maybe the present(s) can be opened at the end of the party so that the kids who didn't bring one won't feel bad. Anyway, good luck!

Evelyn Perkins said...

LOL! I love pinatas! But you are so right, they are scary! We tried to do one with my kids for Christmas and my oldest was terrified: "Why are we hitting something? Why are we breaking something on purpose??" Haha!

I love love love the donating idea! We were invited to a one year old birthday party several months ago and they asked instead of presents that we contribute to Haiti. I thought that was cool! Good feelings all around!

good luck!

Julie said...

We do the birthday party circuit too...and you have described it perfectly! Chaos!

Linzi's idea of an ordered circle sounds great! I think I might try that!

Emmy said...

All I know is if this ends up being the tradition at our schools then if my husband has anything to say my kids just won't have friend parties; he would go insane with that many kids over.

And yes I agree with everyone else, Linzi's idea is great!

Chelle said...

I love the donated items idea! Seriously--that is awesome, hun!

I was thinking of having her have her own chair and have the kids sit on the ground. Like Linzi have an area marked off or even special squares or something for each kid to sit on while she opens?

I can't wait to hear what you decide honey! Good luck :)

Heidi said...

You do know that pinatas come in pull form right? It might help you get over your phobia.

As far as a party for the whole class goes I would have to say DON'T DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!
Seriously, you don't need to worry about hurting other 5 year old's feelings, they'll forget about it in a matter of days, and no one will hold it against her for the rest of her life.
I usually let my girls invite a total of 8, including siblings, because that's what party packs come in. It's cheaper and it keeps the disaters to a minimum.

Have you ever checked out bithdayexpress.com? It is the most fabulous birthday party supply place ever! It simplifies everything!

Don't stress to much over this b-day party. She won't remember much of it anyway, she doesn't need 20 presents, and she doesn't need a wedding cake for her 5th b-day (I know that's ironic coming from me, but after you invite all 17 kids and feed them, their parents, and their siblings cake you've just about paid for a wedding sized version of a simple desert.)

I hate to sound to pessimistic, but I've been where you are and I've found that inviting everyone is just a little to stressful.

Can't wait to see what you decide. :)

Kelli @ writing the waves said...

Thanks for your input, ladies. I'm all about having some kind of order too. We did the semi-circle thing with the presents last year. We had 12 kids at her party since we were moving and it was like a "last hurrah". Each kid had a chair, there was plenty of space, but they were just too excited to stay in them. haha :) But these kids will be a year older and have had a year of K under their belts so they MAY do better. I just think it will be more fun (and less chaotic) to have a smaller party. And she really doesn't need all those gifts. I'll keep ya posted!

Jenny Ramsey said...

whatever you decide is going to be awesome. but i definitely understand what you're going through. gavin has the same situation (except his class has 21!) but at least his birthday falls during summer break so it's a bit easier.

Nancy said...

LOVE the donate presents idea!!

However, if you do decide to allow kids to bring presents, there's absolutely no rule that says she has to open them while the kids are there. In fact, at *every single* party my kids have been to in the past two years - both home parties and ones held at gyms or Jump On Ins - not one present was opened. The kids came in, stacked the presents in the corner, and promptly forgot about them while dancing around, jumping around, or gyming around.

I think it's pure torture for everyone involved to have to sit through all that opening. (parents included!)

Peggy said...

Wow, that's a lot of parties! i can see how that would create quite the dilemna...
As far as pinatas go, I think they can be done very safely. We actually do pinatas (we make our own) for several age groups at my family reunion every year (organized by my mom & I) and the kids know they have to stay behind the line, wait until they're told to go in, and not push or shove. They each get a paper bag, with their name written on it, so their stuff doesn't get mixed up with someone elses. The past couple years, my son has asked for a pinata at his birthday parties, and I've employed the same tactic with the kids at the party. We haven't had any problems, and the kids have a great time! :0)
Good luck with all those parties!