Friday, March 11, 2011

Party planning offers life lessons

T.’s birthday is around the corner. We’re at a point where we can’t get away with not throwing a party for him anymore. (We got away with that as much as possible over the last couple of years.) And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but those things are getting ridiculously expensive. To be fair, I tried to throw a party at home once, and it ended up costing me the same as if I had Chuck E. Cheese host it. Add in the stress of getting everything ready--Lesson Learned. No more do-it-yourself kid birthday parties.

I remember when a birthday party consisted of a cake and pin-the-tail on the donkey. Or in my case, a barbecue at a local park and a piñata tied to a tree. Birthday parties are not what they used to be. So I prefer to hire out.

After much discussion, T. settled on a scavenger hunt party at a local rec center. I gave him three choices, told him how many people he could invite to each, and then helped him determine the list. He made the wise choice—more people for less glitz. I was quite proud when he didn’t make the connection that more people could equal more gifts. He just wants to hang out with his friends. Gifts are icing on the cake, so to speak.

Planning a birthday party now offers me the opportunity to teach a few life lessons: what a budget is; why we stay within the budget; that friendships matter more than venue; that while we wish we could invite everyone, sometimes we have to make choices. (A friend of mine commented that it sounds like good training for planning a wedding.)

These are good lessons for T. to learn, and for me to be reminded of. Ultimately it’s about the people, not the stuff. We already have more stuff than we need—heck, sometimes we have more stuff than we want. Birthdays offer us the opportunity to celebrate the wonderful lives that connect us.

So Happy Birthday little man! We’re looking forward to celebrating the day you came into our lives.

Reace Alvarenga-Smith is a Public Relations Manager for Texas Health Resources and mother of two.

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