it all just happens too fast

January 10, 2009 |  Category:   life parenting


…and your 2 year old is suddenly talking in these complex, sophisticated sentences and your 4 year old is drawing all these pictures that actually look like the objects that she’s intending to draw – you know, trees that look like trees, people that look like people, and kitchens that really look like kitchens (yeah, she likes to draw kitchens). M is turning 5 in a month and for the last few months now, she’s been talking about her birthday, planning her party and telling EVERYONE. Since she doesn’t know how to spell many words, she’s been planning her party by drawing them and coming up with different themes. I think the last thing that she came up with was that we were going to have a subway party, with all the subway lines represented somehow.

But the thing is, I don’t even know if we will have a party. I have to say, I find having a birthday party every year (x2, though we haven’t really had a party for C yet) really exhausting. We’ve done it low-key for the past 4 years, electing to have gatherings of friends over at our place, but one year for her 3rd birthday, we did have 3 different birthday parties for her 3 different group of friends since we couldn’t host that many people all at once in one big party.

By the time we brought out that 3rd birthday cake and sang happy birthday for probably the 7th time, I think maybe even she was over it. I know there is no pressure to have a spectacular party every year, but it does make you think about your own plans when you’re going to all these neighborhood birthdays held at various venues like restaurants, public playspaces and children’s museums with hired entertainment. That’s not in the cards for us, so whatever we decide to do, we need to decide fast. I want to keep it low-key, but M wants to invite everyone she knows and have a theme with theme-appropriate decorations and food. Since when did we become event planners to a 4 year old client?

You Might Also Like

  • Janet Rhoads January 10, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Hi there! I love your blog. 🙂

    When I was little my mom established the every four year rule. Meaning every four years I had a big party. We did it on my 4th, 8th, 12th. Those years I could invite anyone I wanted and we played games, had cake, did some crafts. My 12th was a slumber party. I think simple is best. Every year does not have to be the huge extravaganza….I think if you do that, its too much stress on everybody and also it becomes less special for the kids. I mean everyone they know is having a birthday at those places too. I say go the old school route! As long as there is cake, some presents, friends and family…she’ll have a great time!

  • Joni January 10, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    you guys are going overboard. just have a lunch plus cake at your home and call it a party. happy b day mia!

  • Lani January 10, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Five? Can’t be.

  • ninja January 10, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    i just faced the same problem with our daughters’ 4th birthday party … 15 guest kids, even though we invited only her closest 6 friends from pre-school. we had a make-your-own-pizza party and it was a huge success!
    i bought disposable paper chef hats (the ones that can be adjusted up and *down* to fit the kids’ heads) and the first task was to decorate them with markers, stickers, crayons. once all my little chefs were ready to go, i brought out individual pizza pans (a.k.a. round aluminum takeout containers from the dollar store) that were pre-populated with dough (Fairway!) and red sauce (Rao’s) to keep the mess to a minimum. then i had about 8 kinds of toppings in plastic containers on the table (pepperoni, broccoli, tomato slices, mushrooms, etc.) and grated mozzarella. Be sure to write each kids name with permanent marker on the outside of the pan so they don’t get mixed up in the oven. we even fit all of them in 3 layers in our regular convection oven. ‘Free play’ while the pizzas bake, then everybody eats. Bonus: all kids were nicely filled up with hearty pizza so that they couldn’t even finish their birthday cupcakes later … and nobody got on an evil sugar high.
    good luck!

  • Annie From Seattle (not someone you know, though) January 11, 2009 at 10:02 am

    My nine year old boy recently went to an old fashioned “at home” party where they played games like walk across the room with an egg on a spoon (hard boiled, I assume) and gossip (where you whisper in each person’s ear all the way around a circle) and had pizza and cake…5 boys. After years of fancy birthday parties at pools and Little Gym and renting out bounce house places, he said he also wants an at home party next year.
    We forget, sometimes, that they are little kids after all.
    Make some pizza, decorate some cupcakes, give her hugs. Don’t stress the decorations. It will be the best birthday ever.

  • Jenna January 11, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Joni, that is the point. we want to keep it low key but mia has plans of her own. You also have to keep in mind that the big reason people have parties in venues here in NYC is because most of us live in small apartments and can’t accommodate many guests. Even if you invite only 7 kids, you have siblings and parents and it quickly becomes 25-30 people stuffed in a small apartment. It’s not possible for most people.
    Ninja, we did the pizza party as you described exactly, last year. Mark’s led a few of these kinds of parties, most recently the one described here:
    It is a really great idea.

  • Stacy January 11, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    I find it can be too much with two kids every year and birthday parties so we’ve begun alternating. One year someone gets the one friend sleepover birthday and the other one gets the big whole class hurrah. They take turns and it seems to work out okay. They know what they can expect (and demand) each year.

  • Anj January 12, 2009 at 2:25 am

    Stumbled across your blog today while searching google for birthday party ideas…I totally agree with the “at home” birthday party …will be throwing one for my daughter this feb. Sending out the online invites from They are good!

  • Kids Birthday Parties January 12, 2009 at 9:36 am

    You have got a great blog., from this post, I liked the picture very much.

    Thanks for posting.

  • titi January 12, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Hi Jenna!
    I live very close to you in Park Slope and was wondering where the above play space picture was taken? Thanks!

  • Christina January 12, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    My kids are still on the young side for parties to be an issue. I’m guessing my newly turned three year old will have her own ideas next year. Speaking of her, she wants to go to where the picture was taken. Mind sharing? Thanks!

  • Jenna January 12, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    hey guys, the above photo was taken at the Long Island Children’s museum in Garden City LI. It’s close to where my parents live and so we go there form time to time. If you are out there, or even if you aren’t nearby, it’s worth a trip. i think it’s so much better than the Brooklyn or Manhattan children’s museums, even with the new Blkn renovations. The thing that Mia is on is this really cool above ground climbing space inside the museum. It’s this multi-level maze that wraps around and around – it’s pretty cool!

  • Christina January 13, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    Thank you! Oddly enough, I used to live near Garden City when I was a kid, ages ago.