Birthdays have always been a big deal in my family. According to my husband, they stopped being a big deal after he turned about 10 but in my tradition, it's always a celebration, regardless of age.
February has become the busiest birthday month for me...three family birthdays within five days of each other (all under the age of five this year) and just a few days after Valentine's no less. In my baking world, that translates to crazy! I spent last month in a tizzy of activity with the birthdays that have consumed every weekend and still continue to do so as March wraps up....
"My daughter wanted a jungle party…with pink animals of course! She also wanted her entire preschool class to come over and she wanted to wear pajamas...so a pajama jungle party is exactly what we had to celebrate my sweet little girl turning four. Prior to this we had a family party for her and, I have to admit, having family over on a Saturday from 11am until almost 8 pm was less stressful than having her class over for a mere two hours just a couple of days later. Every year I think it's the last year I'll have a party at home and then I decide to give it one more year. There have been some memorable ones already, all of which have been hosted at home. Her first birthday was a family affair. As much as I would have liked to do so, there was no way that I was going to bake a cake while still nursing, running after two toddlers and hosting a party. Her second birthday was slightly more ambitious. We included friends with family and I actually made the cupcakes...progress on the baking front! It wasn't until her third birthday, the Peppa Pig party, that I really embraced baking and decorating cakes. I even made the cookie cutter since it was impossible to find at the time.
Reeya's cousin celebrated her fourth birthday just a day later. Her mom would not even entertain the thought of the equivalent of a preschool class coming through her house. She is of the philosophy that there is no need to celebrate birthdays until Sophia is aware that she has one. She did have a big first birthday party and since then, she has kept it to a cupcake and a dinner out for just their immediate family; perfect and intimate.
"However, time has caught up with this mother; Sophia now is four, she is well aware of her birthday...and she has an opinion. So this year her parents hosted her party at Pump it Up, one of the inflatable’s party places in Richmond, which she favors. I'm amazed by the ability of the places that get you in, entertained, fed and out within two hours...that is efficiency you can never have at a party hosted in a private residence but somehow I just have not disliked having it at home enough to do that yet...I like the personal feeling of entertaining at home. I've been told many times that once you host a party outside of your home, you will never ever have one at home again. Keeping this in mind, I've enjoyed my kids’ parties at home knowing full well that at some point, my children will have an opinion on where they want to celebrate their special day.
My brother and his wife reached their breaking point rather quickly--when their son turned one, a party for which I made my very first tiered cake. It was a circus themed party and I got me lots of practice making clowns and animals! It ended up being a blistering hot day and it was so crowded in their home that they vowed to never ever repeat that experience. So when their daughter turned one a couple of weeks ago, we had a small private family celebration. In addition, they hosted her birthday at J W Tumbles, which caters towards toddlers. That allowed them to include their many friends with small children. It was a lovely party and the kids had a ball. Again the efficiency...in, out, entertained and fed within two hours. I guess I do need to think about out-sourcing for future reference, and I would love to hear from any of you about your favorite local birthday party sites for kids.