week fourteen: the birthday party

My little baby is almost one. I won’t bore you with the requisite “Oh my gawd how time flies,” or the “I can’t believe it’s been a year!” shit. You know that when you get old time goes fast. Add a baby into the mix and it whooshes by at breakneck pace. He’s a year. It went quickly. Yep.

I’m excited for baby’s first birthday. Celebrating this milestone with friends and family sounds fun. The in-laws are flying in from Texas for the event. Husband’s business partner is bringing his family. About 28 people from my side are coming. It’s kinda the hip place to be this June.

And when I started planning this party, all I could think of was the ridiculous pile of shit I was bound to be saddled with after this event.

I’m hosting somewhere around 40 people. I didn’t invite them to get stuff for baby – I invited them because we’re having a picnic in the summertime, and the more the fuckin merrier, amiright? I just want a fun get-together, play pass the baby a bit and eat a chocolate cupcake. I don’t want the “gift table.”

Any time you throw a kid’s birthday party, there’s always the gift table, overflowing with toys, clothes and little kid shit all wrapped up in shiny paper and glossy bags. At some point during the party, people start getting all present itchy and then it’s time to sit baby down and have him open a bunch of stuff. This tradition, particularly with such a young child, seems really fucking strange to me.

Don’t get me wrong – of course I think it’s sweet and nice and thoughtful to give a child a gift for their birthday. But does my baby need 40 new things? Do I want him sitting in a sea of shiny new stuff, learning that getting shit is what his birthday is all about? Is it vital to his happiness that he receives more toys in one day than some children ever see in a lifetime?

No. No he doesn’t. No I don’t. No it isn’t.

Baby is going to be fighting against commercialism and stuff acquisition for decades to come. Right now – in these early years – is the time for simplicity. To try and instill as much as possible an appreciation for the things we have, and a contentedness in knowing that what we have is enough.

So I figured out that I didn’t want stuff. But how to pass that along to all of the invitees without sounding like a:

1. Holier than thou beeyatch (“although your plebeian son may enjoy childish toys, my son shan’t be accepting your low-brow gifts!”)

2. Annoying controlling mom (“only four of you pay attention to my Amazon wishlist and the rest of you jerks will bring age-inappropriate toys that baby will choke on so fuck off!”)

3. Dirty hippie idiot (“the man is controlling baby’s mind via Elmo, so we’ll only be accepting natural gifts, like leaves and Trader Joe’s granola bars.”)

Well, I wasn’t sure – but a post I read on the Minimalist Mom’s blog on minimalist birthday parties for kids gave me an idea. She detailed a “Toonie” party, a Canadian trend in kids’ parties. The basic idea is that party guests, in lieu of gifts, bring the kid one or two “toonies.” (BTW – A toonie is a $2 coin in Canada.) After the party, the kid can go pick out something he’d like with his pocket full of coins. How cool is that?!

I decided that was the strategy for us. Of course, we don’t have any cool coins here in the States – I mean I guess we have that damn Sacagawea $1 coin but I never see them out in circulation and when you try and spend them at the 7-11 the clerk gets all confused like you handed him Monopoly money. A one-dollar bill seemed lame, so I went with a five-dollar bill.

I had also read online about some toonie parties being a split pot of sorts. Each guest would bring two toonies, and the kid donated half and kept half. I liked that idea, and I like the thought of baby picking a charity each year to support. You know, teaching him the world is bigger than himself, that sort of shit. So that’s the plan. This year, husband and I will pick the charity, I’m thinking Heifer or Toys for Tots.

I’m sure some people will ignore our request, and that’s cool. But if their gift gets donated after the party I won’t feel too bad about it. It’ll probably be the same people who never read their emails all the way through and also forget to RSVP. But that’s why you bring extra sandwiches, you know? Because even though those people annoy the shit out of you, you still have to invite them. Haha! Just kidding.

Not really.