they're happy with, like, a spoon!

Re: birthday parties for your kids, what do you do? Are you a lavish party thrower or are you more of a "give-them-a-spoon!" type*?

*You know what I mean.

I think.

Actually I have no idea.

What I'm talking about.

Sometimes I say things and they end up in these clips and I breathe a sigh of relief because I almost went to college to become a broadcast journalist so that I could spend my life in front of a camera when clearly I belong behind the scenes and you're welcome I dropped out.

Also, for those of you who have inquired as to whether or not I have a penis tattoo on my forehead, now you get to see that I do not.


I'm skipping Sunday Snaps this week because even optimism needs a vacation. In the meantime, let's talk childproofing, shall we? Because, yikes.


Tiana | 1:35 AM

My mom always threw huge parties for me, themed, from the time I was old enough to have friends.
Needless to say, I was known for my parties and people started pretending to be my friend to get into them.

When my mom had a party with 40+ kids, she decided it was enough.

I now have small sleepover parties (I am 16 though, so yeah) and my siblings have a limit of who they can invite.

For the record: I always hated the themes. So did my sister. My brother, however, took advantage of themes and had a "StarWarsLegoIndianaJonesBeatles" party last June. We had Lightsaber pinatas. :|

I think a small party with real, close friends is good. A few games, some food. It doesn't have to be huge to be fun.

Alison | 2:15 AM

When I was small, my parents did not childproof the house at all. I felt like I lived at the museum. I wasn't allowed to touch anything that wasn't mine. The lesson I learned was not that children break things, but that things should not be touched, lest they break. A friend of my parents once picked up one of my obsessively-arranged "display items" and my 7-year-old self snatched it away from her and said "put that back, you'll break it!"
Yep. Basically just a tiny version of my father.
Good luck with the childproofing.

Amanda Keeys | 4:33 AM

I'm so bummed I can't read your babble articles (or are they blogs.. I have no idea). It just directs me over to the australian babble *sigh*.

Anonymous | 5:12 AM

Parties for us consists of a homemade cake, a few presents, grandparents, and quality family time. We make it special within our means and our children love every minute of it!

By the way - you're adorable to begin with, but when you pull your hair back off your face you're just gorgeous!!

Allyssa | 7:00 AM

We just had a big party for our 2 yr old this weekend with a petting zoo at the house, so it looked lavish and maybe it was a bit pricey, but I didn't have to do much by way of entertaining 16 2 yr olds. We put out a lot of toys in the yard and we have a sandbox and a log cabin, so the kids played with the animals for as long as their attention span allowed (15-30 min) and then wandered the yard. It was a short party (2 hrs), so it was an hour for play and an hour of eat cake and ice cream and open presents. My whole intention though was to provide entertainment so I didn't have to do much except clean my house and set out some fruit, cold cuts and drinks. I don't think we'll always have so many kids, but it was fun! I guess I'm lucky that we're not in an affluent circle because I would be horrified and somewhat angry if my child was embarrassed by his party.

SuZ | 7:13 AM

I love birthday parties, just don't have the loot to throw some huge bash. So I make all the food , blow up all the balloons and let the kids run wild. Living on a farm makes it so much easier too because we have lots of land and animals to distract the kids from the lack of gift bags. :)

Loonstruck | 7:18 AM

We don't do big parties. We practically don't do parties. We have cake and ice cream. The adults hang out and the kids run around because, you know, toys! That they don't have at their houses.

My kid has been invited to both kinds of parties. And I think he was kinda overwhelmed by the over-the-top bouncy castle, pinata, non-stop action party.

He liked the party at the skating rink where he and one other kid showed up (I did feel bad for the birthday girl because she invited way more kids.) He likes the parties in his friends' backyard where the kids choose a theme and then come up with games and crafts to fit the theme. (Mom helps with the prep but the kids make most everything.)

We just never got into the habit of it. Our big thing is to choose the cake he wants from and make / decorate it together. He's mostly just happy to be the center of attention. Maybe his 9th birthday will be different. I look at these big parties and I wonder how you can top them at 13 or 16 or 18 for those big milestone birthdays.

Amanda | 7:21 AM

My mother always threw elaborate themed parties. On many occasions we had a puppet guy come to put on a show. A show that went with the theme of the party (I remember a princess and the pea once). My mom loved to do this for her kids and we loved it. I hope to be able to do that same for my kids someday.

Ps. you always look so lovely.


Amanda - You actually CAN access Babble if you add the Straight From the Bottle URL to your google reader RSS:

Woo! xo!

Mandi | 7:40 AM

Birthday 'parties!' MY son just turned 3 a few weeks ago and for his party we invited family to come to the park where I provided bottled water and a Thomas cake. He played with his cousins on the playground and the adults sat around and played with his new toys! We all had a great time!

Unknown | 7:41 AM

OH man I was TOTALLY rooting for the penis tattoo. Damn. (Okay, did people really wonder that?)

I love to throw parties but am actually really bad at them. For my son's first I remembered the Rum but forgot water. Oh well, at least the parents felt good!

mpotter | 8:30 AM

i can't get my sound to work right now, so i didn't get to hear the momversation.

but i'm a "give 'em a spoon" type.

for our daughter's 1st bday, we had a set of friends and her only set of g'parents to come.
we had food. then swam in our pool. then we had cake and watched her go crazy.
then she "opened" the few gifts that were there. (when you don't invite 100s, you don't get 100s)

and we loved it.
very simple.

we don't do too much lavishing. then she'll come to expect it.

beside, we feel that she doesn't remember/care right now anyway.
when she's old enough to appreciate the party- that's when we'll have some fun!

Amanda | 8:47 AM

Just let them eat cake!

That was my motto with our son's 1st birthday. People asked me what we were "planning". I "planned" on waking up, letting him have some cake and play with a couple new toys with us and his grandparents. I've never been a big partier, never been elaborate or able to stick to a theme.

You're right, my son is quite content with a spoon. Why ruin the simplicity? I'm enjoying not having to keep up with the Jones' for now.

The Monkey's Momma | 8:55 AM

I just need to tell you that I think you are absolutely BEAUTIFUL with your bangs pulled back. Holy Cats! I thought you were very pretty before, but WOW, just WOW. You have the most perfect eyebrows ever. So jealous.

Ok now done totally hitting on you! ;o)

Birthday parties: Keep it simple. Especially when they are younger. They don't know the difference if you spend $10K or $100. As long as it is fun, you have some food and chances are they will get a few presents, they will be happy. I don't do the party bags. Most of my sons friends are family anyways. As they get older they can help decide what they want and you can decide if you can afford it, but if you set the bar low from the begining, it won't get out of control later. Plus I think birthday parties are about the guests as well as the birthday kid, not how much you spent on the decorations and the food. Usually I do lasagna and garlic bread, throw it all in the oven, it can feed an army and you don't have to spend your party time futsing with the food.

mommymae | 9:06 AM

i'm with mindy on the number of guests. and the twins still only got their age together. also, once they hit kindergarten, it just gets to be too much. until then, we are a party at home family. my husband likes to cook nice little apps, i like to bake a fun cake, i make little games up & handmake some type of giveaway (a tutu one year, cd another, they made a tshirt, etc.) fun, cheap, easy. the kids have a grand time & look forward to the next one. but once kindergarten hits, they can invite a couple of friends over for a movie.

genbloom | 9:09 AM

Ugh, parties. I'm a "grow them a spoon" really, I won't do big parties every year to simply give them some great memories of the b-days we do have a big celebration of. We'll always have a family party, but I don't think friends need to be involved every year.

And you look SO BEAUTIFUL, I love the bangs too, but your face is just gorgeous and I love love love the purple.

Erin | 9:12 AM

For my son's first birthday, I insisted on making a double-layer rainbow birthday cake that ended up looking more like an igloo by the time I was done with it. I basically threw a bunch of m&ms on the white frosting as decoration, and you know what? it was delicious. I felt a little...insufficient, or something...for not having bought an expensive, professional cake. And you know what my mom said? She said they should have done the same thing all along because the kid won't really care anyway. Unless we condition them to care.

Renee | 9:49 AM

While Moanna is little we use her birthday as a way to host a nice get together for our family and friends in appreciate for the support they have given us in the past year as they watch us fumble through parent hood.

Abi | 9:52 AM

First of all, when I saw the episode, I thought, "Who is that new mom?". There was no new mom. It was you! You look AMAZING!

Back to the topic. My daughter turned 2 this year and my son just turned 1. We don't believe in big parties. When my girl turned 1, we had just moved, no family nearby, no real friends. I baked a cake, we had take out and we ate in our living room. We basically did the same for our son's first bday. When my girl turned 2, we were with my in-laws for vacation and my mother-in-law and sister-in-law hosted a party for her. It made sense to have a party that time because there were actually people to invite. It wasn't big by any means. Just a small gathering and we had cake, ice cream, burgers, ribs, etc.

I don't think we'll ever do the big parties. We're just not the tpye. Plus they're expensive and they don't seem practical. I've always been happier celebrating in intimate settings. Maybe my kids will be the same. Who knows?

Amy | 10:06 AM

A really cool homemade cake is cheap and looks great in the photo album 30 years later. Seriously, what happened to childhood? Children just shouldn't have to keep up with the jones and parents who do that to their kids and to other people's kids are shameful. In fact, being poor is NOT SHAMEFUL, flaunting money and status through your children is shameful. What happened to our values in this country? Living within one's means, caring more about someone's character than their bank account, living an honest life, well that is what is important. Celebrating someone's life at a birthday party should be spent with friends and family and some decent food, singing happy birthday and eating cake ( maybe some beer and wine for the adults). Geez. Aren't those kind of gatherings always way more fun than the fabricated overpriced BS?

lonek8 | 10:10 AM

so far we haven't done any sort fo parties because our kids are only 3 2 and 7mo. But I'm thinking this year, the oldest will get a birthday party for her fourth birthday. I don't plan to go all out because I think kids can have fun without expensive parties that just scream status for the parents. It's not about me, its about her. that being said, I'm totally doing at some place that handles all teh set up/clean up so i don't have to work too much!

on a completely unrelated note: I just finished your book, and it was stunning. There are so many thing I would love to talk about with you, but since this is not the place I will just say: thank you. Thank you for sharing your story, which in so many ways was also my story, and putting my feelings inot words more beautiful than I ever could. I'm sorry I didn't have it then, and I'm so glad that I got to read it now because it makes the memories all the more sweet.

Jennifer | 10:15 AM

I'm with you on take-it-easy birthday parties and weddings.

And you look so pretty with your hair pulled back!

Jesse | 10:43 AM

When I was growing up (as oldest of 4), parties meant that they either rented the local pool for a night (if we had friends and family together), or I got to have 5 or 6 people over for a sleepover and then a party with relatives that weekend. Nothing fancy. My husband celebrated in the same way, and so we've agreed that our daughter (and soon, our next child!) should be raised in the same way. Nothing fancy - because while the fancy LOOKS nice, kids always seem to have more fun at the simple. Now, our daughter hasn't had much opportunity to have friends at a party (I'm an introverted SAHM, though I'm getting better!), I'm sure that the complaining will get worse next year when she's in Kindergarten. And then I'll get to be the "bad guy" - because, after all, that's what moms and dads do best, right? *grin*

Plus, if you don't want to talk about "rich" and "poor" (because what does that REALLY mean, anyway?), train kids early that work=money=buying things. Our daughter has already admitted that she'd rather LOOK at the store and not buy than to have her father gone more than he is (he works 12-hour days), which works for us!

PS. I'm gonna hit on you as well here and say how pretty you looked in this video. *grin* Ok, now that it appears that most of us have stroked your ego... *grin*

sam | 1:17 PM

Someone already said you looked PHENOM with your bangs back - but DAMN GIRL, I gotta say it again! Hot mama!

We just had a sorta big party for our son's 1st birthday - 30 people. I don't think we'll do that again. This was our first baby and he was a surprise baby, and how we made it through the first year I DON'T EVEN KNOW, and so this party, I felt, was kind of for us, too. Next year? Immediate family ONLY! I am not going through all that hoop-lah again!

Karen | 1:24 PM

We're at that stage where all of our little baby friends are turning 1. I have 4 parties in 4 weeks (6 kids, 2 sets of twins) for all these 1 year olds and they aren't going to remember these parties at all. They're strictly for the parents. Now I feel all this pressure to have a party for my 1 year-old-to-be in November when what I really want to do is have a "We survived the 1st year party" with my husband and friends. Let C smash her cake and put her to bed while the rest of us drink cocktails.

Anonymous | 2:01 PM

Great conversation and a great topic. I feel for Daphne and other families who are struggling with financial issues and trying to reduce the impacts on their children. Their stress is palpable and, as a recently divorced mom, I completely empathize.

That said, I think we, as a society, have completely lost touch with what birthday parties are about -- celebrating a person and making great memories. Can you make great memories with a pony and a bounce house? sure. You can also make great memories having a kid help make their own birthday cake and lead a kazoo parade around the backyard.

The one-uppsmanship among parents in my social circle has gotten insane. I gave up and give my 5YO a choice - party or mommy and me road/day trip. Because I can dish out $500 on a party where she gets a bunch of toys she doesn't need, eats enough sugar to make herself sick and hands out bags with a bunch of plastic crap other parents can't wait to throw away, OR I can spend some quality time with her having a great day.

This year, she's picking me and I'm loving it and saving some serious cash. 'Cause you can't get a bounce house with frequent flyer miles.

SO | 2:32 PM

We try not to go to overboard. This year, when my daughter turned three, she was old enough to have a real opinion and what she wanted to do was spend a special day with just her cousin (indoor water park, sushi for lunch) then have a pizza party with some other family friends. Granted, the indoor water park and sushi lunch probably cost as much as having a big ol' party for a bunch of little kids at home.

This year she has been asking for a Dora! Party! With pinatas! and she has actual friends now it might be a little more, ahem, involved.

Maeby | 3:13 PM

We usually just let the kids make their own cake/cupcakes and let em go crazy eating/smashing them, and buy them a couple of gifts. Big party? No way.

totally unrelated, but what the heck do you use on your skin?? it looks so flawless!

Anonymous | 3:21 PM

No Sunday Snap? Wha?

duck | 3:38 PM

OK. I am being honest here. I LOVE Big parties. I come from a large boisterous extrovert family. We do parties in a big way. In fact we do EVERYTHING in a big way. But big does not mean expensive necessarily. This year for my baby girls first birthday party I had to get real creative to get a party done for over 35 people for under $150.00 But I did it. I made everything, a lot of it from stuff I had around the house and kept it simple. I focused my time and $ on a few things so it didn't get nuts and that allowed us to invite everyone we wanted to. The only thing I will for sure do differently next time is I will say no gifts besides a donation to the local food bank or woman's shelter. There was just too many gifts and thats not why we get together with friends and family.

Anonymous | 4:47 PM

Just pointing out, something to do with spoons...the awesomely fun card game, Spoons! My family loves that. Not to mention spoon egg races...

Yeah. Fun isn't expensive.

Amber, The Unlikely Mama | 5:33 PM

I'm not a fan of big big birthday parties, specially for little kids. We're planning something a bit larger than usual for Alexa's first because we're holding a Baby Naming Ceremony at the same time (announcing her Vietnamese name...she's the families. It's kinda like a christening sans god-talk).

In the years after though...we are NOT going to throw huge parties just to show off. She won't care a bit, so there's no reason to waste a big ta-da when she's not going to remember it :-)

Oh, and don't get me started on weddings :P

Andrea | 6:28 PM

I'm 24 and I have never felt as if something in my life was incomplete or that I have been scorned in a horrible way because I didn't get a bouncy at my party when I was 4. I'm sure there were many occasions when I didn't get what I had asked for on my birthday, but I still have very happy memories of each and every one of them.

So, I agree with you, Rebecca, give 'em spoon. As long as they feel loved and celebrated, they will look back fondly on each and every birthday.

Megan | 6:38 PM

When I was growing up, birthday parties were only for family. All the cousins would play together and the adults would visit. That's kind of how I envision my kids' parties. Just the family getting together for some fun. I really do enjoy making colorful cakes with Wilton's shaped cake pans though. It's not that hard or expensive and the kids really like it.

Elizabeth @claritychaos | 6:54 PM

I really don't know what to say here without coming off like I'm ripping on the other moms in that video, because that is not my intention at all.

But I am disgusted with the materialism at the heart of this. I really had no idea how big kids parties had become.

I've got three boys, the oldest turning 6 in two days. For their birthdays when they're really little, we eat cake and do something fun. (Like play with a spoon. Seriously.) At 4, 5, or 6 we have had a few (like between two and five) friends over to eat and play pin the tail on the donkey and those games like what you mentioned, Rebecca. And the kids had a ball.

I think those big parties where the parents and siblings come and you have to feed everyone and stress and decorate and blah blah blah sound horrible. Not at all about celebrating the birth and life of the kid.

I am sitting here scowling about this issue, so I should probably let it go and stop thinking about it. But for what it's worth, I appreciate you sharing your perspective in the momversation.

3StinkyBoysAndMe | 8:41 PM

I'm somewhere in the middle when it comes to birthday parties. I love to decorate and mom makes the most awesome 3D cakes and we usually serve lunch, but we don't go all nutty with all the rest of the such such as blow up jumpies, petting zoos or clowns. My boys are only one and two though, we'll see how it goes from here...

jenifer | 9:15 PM

big parties are awesome! we have one every year for the kid and he has a blast. we cater to our guests for coming- good food, good drinks, good friends. i think if one is in a crowd where people compare or care what the other does than that is a crowd of assholes i'd rather not know. to party or not to party- who cares.. bigger fish to fry!

Indigo Children | 12:05 PM

we are trying a new (simple) way to celebrate birthdays. i posted about it yesterday.

Ray | 12:09 PM

I do not have any children but (if I did and if I had the money): I'd love to throw extravagant birthday parties every year, from when my child turns a year until maybe the age of ten or eleven. Why you ask? I think it's because I like extravagant things (I DO NOT live an extravagant lifestyle by ANY MEANS but that's just what I like). I think birthdays should be celebrated greatly because they’re only once a year, so to me it’s a big occasion (and why not do things up big). Also because I’d like to think that I could be pretty creative in party planning and paying attention to detail, so birthday parties are something I think I’d look forward to most (if I ever decide to become a parent). It wouldn’t be a huge drag for me to plan a party and to figure out a theme.

Of course this is all as long as your wallet isn’t hurting because of it. If an extravagant party is something someone can not afford than so be it. It’ll still be a great birthday party for the kid. And you’re so right with a kid being happy with just a spoon. ;o) And as for me: I had nice birthday parties at home with family and friends, where my mom would cook and sometimes my birthday cakes would be homemade and sometimes not (Well I know for certain that my “first” birthday cake was homemade).

Jene | 12:56 PM

After I threw many a birthday party for my kids, I decided labor before birth was easier than labor before a birthday party. It was then I sat down and reassessed, just who was I doing this for, the kid or me? Kids don't care, as long as YOU make them feel special. Whew! Took a lot of guilt away...

tam | 9:16 PM

Give them a spoon and let them eat cake.
Really, I think parties are a way that parents often spoil children. By "spoil" I mean giving them things that make them forget what's really important. Family. Breakfast. That's about it.

Sarah | 2:04 PM

I'm a birthday party freak. I've been planning Lucia's first since before she was born. Of course, that being said, I will not spend a fortune and it will be modest and age appropriate ... while freaking adorable.

Ella Symes | 9:03 AM

I've not come to the lavish parties age since my daughter has just turned one but for her first birthday party we were blessed with good weather, we borrowed a small bouncy castle from my sister who owned one and did a small buffet inside the house for 20 people including children. Adults outnumbered the children but they seemed to enjoy it. We sat on the patio with cold drinks and our buffets and watched the children play on the bouncy castle and our daughter walk to go after them. I think our birthday parties will run in the same vein as we don't have a big house or a lot of money but I'm sure our ideals will have to adapt to our daughter's needs once she's old enough to express them. Yes, if she asks for themes, we will do a theme but there will not be lavish decorations, ridiculous amounts of food, rented rooms etc.

As a child I had small birthday parties. For 'big' parties like my 10th, 13th, 16th etc we hired a room and did a buffet, had music and games but it was very much low-key compared to some of the birthdays I've seen parents thrown. I don't want to be in competition with other mothers to have the best party and be renowned for it, I just want us all to be happy and for our guests to enjoy themselves.

And I agree, kids are happy with a spoon.

Lindsay | 5:38 PM

I LOVED the spoon comment. :)
And yes, kids are indeed happy with just a spoon.

Also, you look gorgeous in this one. Totally digging the bangs-pulled-back look. (in a completely non-stalker, non-creeptastic way, I swear!)