In his frustrated moments, NPY says that Kiddo is spoiled to have a birthday party every year. I don’t know what NPY had growing up but I had one every year and it was available for a while after I wanted them. It was never at a venue – I think – but instead in the banquet side of the Chinese restaurant where my father worked and – later – my parents’ restaurant. How did I or my parent entertain some dozen kids who showed up because I was persuaded to invite everyone? Maybe it was traumatizing and I have blocked out memories of that? Maybe my mother bought pre-fab games like Pin The Tail On the Donkey. I really don’t know any longer.
Kiddo’s first birthday was held in the common room of my own building. No fee and really convenient, we had friends come over and we caught up on things. I have no real recollection what we did for his second, third or fourth birthdays. One of those years, we had a party at Hinge Park near our condo and I suppose that was the year bought a 10′ x 10′ canopy – no-brainer to spend the money when we don’t have to pay a venue! His fifth birthday was the first year of Covid and but restrictions were a little relaxed by his birthday and he had playdates with friends all weekend. His sixth birthday was kind of cribbed from a school friends, i.e., at the park next to his school – not overly convenient for me we don’t live in the neighbourhood. My sister assisted with the set-up.
For his fifth birthday (or was it Baby’s first birthday?) I reserved the gym at the community center. Perhaps I was thinking of doing a combined one for Baby and Kiddo because it’s a big space. But then Covid so I let go of that reservation. NPY enjoys (rather, enjoyed) the aspect of the summer birthday that we can have it outdoors and no venue to prepare and enjoy the afternoon. He totally backtracked on that in the midst of annoyance at the preparations, saying he only wants to sit and relax in the shade and didn’t want to talk to people he didn’t know.
For years, every since the playground at False Creek Elementary was upgraded, I have been intrigued by having a party near the playground, on the grassy slopes, with tree cover and looking across False Creek to downtown and the mountains. So that’s the venue I picked for Kiddo’s party this year.
A week before the party, we went to the playground and I walked around all of the grassy areas looking in vain for a patch of grass that I would feel comfortable pitching our canopy, throwing down our picnic blankets. There was nothing – it is Canadian geese territory. It got slightly better in one patch which happened to slope badly and instead of goose feces, was littered with the remnants of people drinking there and whatnot. Further, I couldn’t figure out a good spot to park or stop to unload the car.
In my reminder to parents of the party, I notified them that the venue changed to Hinge Park and a huge weight came off my shoulders.
As it would turn out, a day later, Baby got a hand, foot, mouth disease diagnosis so that very same day, I postponed the party and told everyone why. It was a day ahead of the party’s original date. It was the right thing to do, if not cancelling altogether and as the week went on and it was a heat wave not set to break until after the new party date, I wondered if people weren’t thinking I was crazy to go ahead with a late afternoon/early evening party.
I was all in a knot and trying to figure it all out in my head. Finally I had NPY help to sort out the “equipment” we borrow (sharing economy): a really nifty folding camp table, camping chairs, a cooler and locating our canopy. I initially turned down assistance but as I thought about how hot it was and how I struggled last year setting up the canopy alone, I allowed for NPY to ask BIL and his wife to help me get the ice and with set-up and for a school friend mom to pick up the balloons.
Kiddo and Baby had swimming lessons at 11:00 and 11:30 the day of the party and it was a long weekend where the classes weren’t cancelled (ugh) so I just rode with it, passed on the opportunity for them to have semi-private lessons with other kids off on holiday, because it was more important to finish up things at home, or be preparing for The Set-up.
Many hands made light work and while there was miscommunication where to meet, I moved three boxes and bags with party supplies to the car, drove two minutes to park at the park and unloaded. I hadn’t missed anything in anticipation, this being at least the third outdoor party for Kiddo. Take down was also easy with helpful friends and one in particular can direct us in taking down the tent (since BIL had left who is also very familiar with taking it down).
With the kids being six or seven, they could play independently and safely not too far from us in the park but also unsupervised. There were disagreements and tears and people getting more wet than they wanted but it didn’t mar anything significantly. The parents had a good chance to chat – I hated tearing myself from that.
Meanwhile, I was in my element planning treat bags and the cake!
Last year, I made chocolate zucchini cupcakes with a ninja theme. This year, I wanted to make the same cake (I lost the recipe) but with strawberry cream cheese frosting. NPY didn’t think kids liked the cake last year or when I made it recently for Baby’s birthday but I think he was wrong about last year. In any case, it was more work so I went with a hybrid: entirely boxed chocolate cake (good eggs, homogenized milk added) and homemade strawberry cream cheese frosting. The kids applied the sprinkles which is fun for them and makes the frosting job less terrible looking and the cake more palatable to the kids.
I made a list as I brainstormed about treat bags. I knew that to make it memorable, to show appreciation after being in a free venue, to show thanks for the gesture of people’s presents, to to have high value treats that kids will love.
- Dunkaroos – apparently they are making a come-back? So I’m sharing the snack with the next generation of kids.
- Full-sized box of Pepero (Pocky)
- Snack size tin of Pringles – ordered off Amazon
- A mystery figure: Lego minifigure or Lego Mario character or Hot Wheels and this other character I never heard of before for my niece
- A pack of Rockets powder candy – what kid doesn’t like these?
- A Rainbow Loom bracelet made by either Kiddo or myself
- An emoji pencil and fun colourful eraser that looks like a piece of Twizzler licorice – it was really convincing!
- A reusable fabric bag (as opposed to generic paper bags)
- Name placard created by Kiddo using magic scratch cards
On this day..
- Dineout Reviews: July 2010 - 2010