Monday, December 8, 2008

One Birthday Down, Hopefully Many to Go

After a good week or so of thinking and two days of pretty non-stop cleaning and preparing, River’s first birthday party is over. I would say it was a success. We squeezed 10 adult and 7 young toddlers into our very limited space, the food was good and people seemed to have a good time.

I prepared one of River’s favorite dishes, borsht (and blended up a pureed batch for babies), together with a wonderful sweet potato salad and a fairly healthy carrot cake that turned out very well. We made pomegranate daiquiris for the adults, which was a nice treat.

Perhaps next year we’ll start the number of guests = number of years formula. But this year, since the party was more for the parents than for the kids, we ignored it. We did limit the guest list to people with small children though, so they all had something in common and seemed to enjoy talking together.

I don’t think we’ve had any real get-togethers at our place since River was born. I think we spent around $125 for the food, cocktails, non-alcoholic drinks, flowers, balloons and a few random supplies. We didn’t do much in the way of decorations, beside a foil balloon tied to River’s high chair and a couple of balloons taped to the wall. That worked out well because most of the babies were entranced by balloons, like River is. We could offer them a balloon to take home when they left, which several seemed to like.

I asked people not to bring gifts and instead, to bring a drink or side dish. That was helpful in making sure that everyone could find at least one thing they liked or were allowed to eat. Despite the request for no gifts (which I repeated twice), three people brought them anyway. Those people wanted River to open their gifts. I tried to do it off to the side, so that those who didn’t bring gifts wouldn’t feel bad.

I’ve heard that some people just ignore a “no gifts” request because they assume everyone else will bring gifts and then they will feel bad. As someone who requested “no gifts” I don’t think the people who brought nothing for River should feel bad at all. I’m glad they came. I’m glad they contributed something to eat. I’m glad we spent a nice time together. That’s it.

I didn’t feel like people should be spending their money to get River something when his needs are already met. Especially in these times, I think many people have more important things to spend their money on. I also didn’t want to encourage the baby consumption culture.

River’s reaction to his party was part pleased and part muted. When we brought him down from his nap, before the guests arrived, he was thrilled to see all of the balloons. He hadn’t slept as long during his nap as I’d hoped, so he wasn’t fully rested when the guests arrived. We put him in his highchair and filled the table with food for him. That kept him happy for a long time. He looked out at the noise and the commotion fairly dazed, but not requiring much attention. That left Mark and I free to visit with and serve our guests. We put a little birthday crown and bib we’d inherited on him when I brought out the cake. I gave him a piece to do with as he pleased. He picked off the frosting first, then ate the cake. He seemed to be pleased with his carrot cake, as did the guests, and it didn't make much of a mess, even eaten with fingers.

I don’t know whether it was the sugar from his first-ever piece of cake or the excitement, but he wouldn’t nap after the party and I had a surprisingly difficult time getting him down. At 8 p.m. he was still crawling around.

He was pretty much back into his normal routine today, though the balloons and the new toys seemed to make him happy. I’m sure the party has already faded into oblivion. But we now have a few photos to keep as mementos. Best of all, which I suppose is the whole purpose at this age, we all had a good time.

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