I thought I was so crafty when I decided to have all of my children in late summer. I wanted my maternity leave to be in the fall, and after the first child I was locked into the schedule by the seasonality of my maternity clothes. Rank amateur! Each time, the break from work was wonderful, with fresh autumn weather and the chance to stand at the bus stop when the older ones went off to school in September.
But somewhere in the calculation, I forgot that I also was committing to an annual marathon of summer birthday parties! When kids are toddlers, the parties are fun because they’re really parties for the parents and their friends. Then, the children get larger and rowdier, and harder to impress. The little invitees are jaded at the age of four by a procession of clowns, magic shows, moon bounces, piñatas, and exquisite ice cream cakes. We ran the gauntlet of Chuck-E-Cheeses, laser tag, bowling, Discovery Zone, until finally I couldn’t take it anymore.
Last summer I decided to have an old-fashioned party at HOME, with a homemade cake and snacks, and kids running through the sprinkler with water guns. It was really FUN! The way kid birthday parties are supposed to be! The truly amazing thing was that the backyard party WAS a novelty to the kids because almost no one (apparently) does it anymore.
The other victory for me was that I was able to avoid the obligatory goody bag filled with cheap imported junk toys. Instead I ordered Wiffle Ball and Bat sets (from The Connecticut Store) for each child as a party favor. We even played a little Wiffle Ball during the party.
Other great party favor ideas made in USA (and sugar-free!), sent in by Bob in Texas: