Do you remember the birthday parties you had when you were a child?
I do, even though it was a long, long time ago.
My mom would bake a cake and invite a few of my friends over. We would play games like Pin the Tail on the Donkey and Musical Chairs. Then I would open the presents and thank each child for the gift, saving all of the ribbon and wrapping paper for future arts and crafts projects. Then we children would sit down and my mom would bring in the cake with candles lit while everyone sang Happy Birthday. When the party was over, I would hand each child a little bag with a few small items: balloon, whistle, box of cracker-jack.
Parties these days are often very different. Many children go to preschool or other childcare facilities where they have a dozen friends or more. Add to that neighbor children and family members and you can wind up with a list of two dozen children that need to be invited. In addition, in many families, both parents are working outside the home and having such a big party at home is more than they can cope with.
A whole new industry has emerged: facilities that cater to parties for two, three and four year olds. There are bounce house and other indoor playground-type facilities, in addition to museums, zoos and farms that will put together a program of activities including food and time for opening presents…all supervised by their employees.
Earlier this month, I visited my daughter and her family in New Hampshire and helped celebrate my grandson’s third birthday at BounceU in Bedford, NH. The children had a ball! Parents could participate with their children if they wanted to…climbing and sliding and bouncing. The pizza they served was pretty good and the birthday cake was delicious. One of the employees even sat close, writing down who the gift was from and what it was, while presents were being unwrapped.
I know my grandson had a wonderful time and was thrilled to have all of his friends wishing him a happy birthday. All of the children were delighted with the activities and their parents were pleased with the BounceU facility.
The big birthday party was celebrated on a Sunday, but my grandson’s actual birthday fell on the next day. His dad had to work, but came home early so that we could all spend the afternoon at a beautiful nearby park.
Jeremy got to try out the birthday present he had received from his Grampy, a new fishing rod!
And when we got home, Jeremy got to open presents from his mom and dad…and blow out the candles on a small birthday cake that was just perfect for the four of us.
I was happy that Jeremy got to experience these two different birthday celebrations. Although the larger party was certainly lots of fun, there were elements in the smaller one that made it so very special and harkened back to those parties of long ago.
What are your thoughts?
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