Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The New Birthdays

During a recent conversation about children’s birthday parties, my wife utilized Pinterest to open my eyes to what is trending in toddler celebrations. Unbeknownst to me, there is an entire subculture constructed around kid’s birthday parties. Gone are the days of inviting over the grandparents, taking a few photos, and watching the child decimate a cake. I now realize that as a member of middle-class America, the expectations have become much higher. Apparently, hosting a party for a toddler is closer to the Golden Globes than I realized. There will be a cohesive theme, custom invitations, and all attendees should receive gift bags upon their exit. From what I observed, planning a party for the modern child has many components.

We begin at the theme. What motif would properly express the child’s interests? Agriculture? Dinosaurs? Tort Reform? Once this has been identified, you are faced with creating the theme-based custom invitations. Hours must be spent painstakingly integrating the concept in a way that seems both original and clever. This usually involves rhyming something with the child’s age so that “You are invited to Timmy’s third birthday party” becomes “Timmy is just as excited as he can be, because his birthdays, like his nipples, can now be counted by three!

Now you are faced with the task of refreshments. Gone are the days were it was acceptable to set out a bag of Doritos and a case of Big K, now the party hosts are expected to churn out cleverly labeled custom appetizers. These, like all aspects of the celebration, must adhere to the theme. So if you were intent on utilizing Doritos and it was a traffic sign-themed party you could attach them to pretzel sticks and refer to them as “Yield Signs” or something comparably whimsical.

Toss in the gift bags and custom decorations and before you know it little Timmy is being forced to go to a state school because most of his college fund was drained on his Dubai-themed fourth birthday. I did feel that one component missing from all of the parties I saw was a gift bag fort the parents of the attendees. It could be filled with Merlot, ibuprofen, and the promise of a two-hour nap.

Either way, I am glad that my wife is creative so that our children will not grow up asking if they "have to have their birthday at the Pizza Hut by the Interstate again this year." After all, the only thing worse than your offspring posing that question is hearing the response, "Not if they keep jacking up their buffet prices."

Since it would appear that theme-planning for toddlers is rather lucrative, I have created the following ideas I plan to share on Pinterest:

Dark Arts – Pentagrahm crackers could be served and one lucky child would get to contact a deceased great-grandparent via séance. All attendees would receive a gift basket containing a sacrificial dagger, Ouija board, and selected children’s books by Anton LaVey.

OSHA Violation – The children would taking turns grabbing exposed electrical wiring until they found a live circuit and all caustic chemicals would be placed in Kool-Aid Squeeze-It bottles and labeled “super-hero fuel.” Gift basics would include OJI paperwork and a refrigerator magnet with the number for poison control.  

Hunger Games – Only one hotdog and two Capri Sun pouches would be provided during the course of this mandatory 6-hour celebration. Attendees would be armed with makeshift weapons and placed equidistant from the aforementioned refreshments. Gift baskets would contain gauze, antiseptic rinse, and diminished respect for humanity.

Controlled Substances – Guests would be encouraged to bob for Adderall in cough syrup and there would be a scavenger hunt for Pseudoephedrine in neighboring homes. Gift baskets would include barbiturate trail mix and the business card of a reputable criminal defense attorney.

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