Just How Latino are Your Birthday Celebrations?

Chocolate by Javier Poclava

As a mother of three I’ve had my share of kid’s birthday parties over the years, from planning them to attending them.  I’ve handcrafted personalized invitations, and now even use networking sites like Facebook to send out virtual invitations to my guests.  What I hadn’t done until recently was take a closer look at just how Latino even my children’s birthday parties have been.

A few days ago, however, I had kind of an “aha” moment at my toddler’s birthday party that got me thinking.  I don’t normally let my kids invite their friends or classmates to their birthday parties.  Not because they are not welcome, pero porque just within our immediate and close famililies, I already have 20-plus people on my hands!

Still, now that the kids are getting older, they are beginning to make it quite obvious to us that they have best friends and classmates who they would like to have at their celebrations as well.  I guess I understand.

This year, while organizing my toddler’s 2nd birthday party I conceded and allowed my kids to invite one friend each to our home.  They were very excited.  Unfortunately, due to the bad weather forecast, at the last minute I had to cancel the big shindig.  Which in it of itself wouldn’t have been so bad, only that I was not able to notify all of my children’s friends’ parents.  Out of the two, I was only able to reach one family.

The other family showed up at my doorstep the day of the party and dropped off my daughter’s good friend.  Since the weather wasn’t as bad as they had forecasted, we went ahead and gathered some of our immediate family for an impromptu celebration.  However, this definitely wasn’t the same party I had been planning for my children and their friends.

As the fiesta continued, I couldn’t help but notice how different my Latino celebrations are from my non-Latino friends’ birthday parties.  When planning a birthday party (especially a kid’s party), we hispanos pull out all the stops!  We not only get a cake and a piñata, we also make certain our compadres are entertained and taken care of at all times.  También, we make sure the food is being served correctly pa que alcanzen todos.  We’re not big fans of pizza or chicken nuggets as full meals for children.  Instead, we opt for more authentic Mexican dishes like fajitas y frijoles a la charra.  These dishes are usually for the adult guests on our list… not really for the kiddos.  And of course, you already know our parties don’t last an hour or two… they can be all-nighters!

Non-Latino celebrations, on the contrary, as I have discovered, are mainly for the children.  Parents have the option of dropping off the kids and coming back for them later.  The parties usually consist of crafts and activities, followed by finger foods for the little ones, and then cake.  An hour or two later, the party is over, people are waving goodbye, and you are stuck with the cleaning.

It seems like a very painless process anyway.

While I do like the idea of hosting my children’s birthday parties at the zoo or at a local Jump World, I just can’t commit to doing something like that instead.  I’m afraid my guest list will go over the limit for those places, or that it won’t feel like a real party if everyone leaves so soon.

Mejor me aguanto las ganas and I plan another birthday fiesta at the house.

The truth is, right now, while my kids are still very young I can’t imagine not having the big pachanga.  I enjoy those celebrations way too much!  But, you never know, I think the tide might be turning.  The kids are getting older, they are starting to have ideas of their own and friends whom they just HAVE to hang out with!  I might have to start adapting and embracing new sorts of birthday parties… for them.

The good thing is I still have my birthday party to plan as well, and ahí, sí que ¡todo se vale!