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!
We always did the family only partys,except for the 4 surrounding neighbors that were like family.
A few years ago we discovered Kemah.
It had been up for many years,but we never had the money to indulge in it.
So we took the kids and My then 15yr old asks if she can come back soom.
I said maybe for your birthday mija.
She said “I wanna bring friends from school”
I said thats very expencive and then the party and food after?”
She said..”Mom cant I do my birthday the way it would make Me happy?”
I thout…WTH…I gave birth to you its my party too ungratful child….lol
She lloked at me and said “All my cousins are very little and I wanna ride the coasters my friends will come with me,or maybe 1 friend and you can save the rest of your money mom”
I turned an the truth of her age hit me…
My 2nd baby was trying to leave me behind like the 1st one.
I said “we’ll see” (but to her it wasnt NO)
I talked it over with my husband both of us a lil heartbroken from her trying to grow up on us…
We gave in and Went with her and the 2 friends and left the other kids here.
We found in letting her do this,we also got to walk around and drink a few margaritas and watch them run from ride to ride all of us in peace.
Juan,its hard to let them grow. Just remember to grow with them.
Grandfather you will be one day.
And you will have to know everything and have every answer.
We cant hold on to them.
But we can help them better then anyone else can. 🙂
You have a point there… although if I’m truly honest I have never been big on birthday parties. Not even my own. I always hated the attention… but I think a good mixture of both cultures is key. The main thing is that family is there and that the birthday kid is having a good time.
Yup, they grow up so fast and they are already requesting different types of party. I’m adaptable. As long as my babies are happy, I’m happy. And yes, if it is less stress for me and more opportunities to drink margaritas I’m all for it!
FYI….I also have a 13 yr old and a 10yr old son…
We have not had a traditional Birthday party here in 5yrs…
Since I let Sarah break Tradition.
We’ve had 3 sleep overs,that were a no-no in my house growing up…and my son choses to have us spend his birthday funds on games and the pizza place party 🙁
Yes, I see a sleep over happening for my daughter’s bday in December. 🙂
LOL this is something we have thought about a lot!!!
As a “mixed” family, our kids have often attended the type of birthday parties common with my non-Latina background, and they decide they also want their party at a location or at least with a theme, with organized games and prizes, and invite mostly friends. AND on their father’s Mexican side we can have literally 35+ cousins come, with parents, grandparents, ex-neighbors from the Vecindad, and other assorted individuals, expecting to eat.
We’d go broke trying to do it “right” both ways!
So far we have been basically alternating. Some years there is a party at home that is a complete throwdown and we debate whether to have 2 or 3 enormous piñatas. Some years it’s at a location with total 10 kids (3 of which are ours) and [horrors] no piñata at all. Some years it is just “you pick what we are going to have for dinner” and I make a home-made cake.
My son just today turned in a posterboard project for school about the homeland(s) of his parent(s). His was on México of course. He filled out sections on Ropa Tipica, Comida Tipica, and Tradiciones with photos from our own lives. Under the Tradiciones section one of the pictures was a huge glob of cousins, aunts and uncles at his sister’s birthday party which he titled “estar en familia”.
I understand the attraction of having a birthday party at Build-a-Bear. We did that once. But “estar en familia” needs to happen too.
That’s a great solution! Taking turns and combining both cultures. I think your children will really remember and appreciate the fusion and recognition of their individual cultures. Bicultural is really what our kids are today, more so than we ever have been.
Both types of parties have their advantages and right now I like the big family ones. But I see smaller, more kid-only parties in my near future. But they’ll still always have their cake on their birthday surrounded by family. That’s a tradition, one I’m not looking to break. 🙂