Max turned two! Optimistically I am declaring this right of passage the TERRIFIC TWOS, but secretly, I am nervous that this marks the beginning of the TERRIBLE TWOS just like every other child on the planet. Bravely, we marked this milestone with a birthday party to welcome whatever this new stage of development may bring.
Parties these days are certainly not the parties of my childhood. I always had a great time at mine, but they were much simpler. Only kids attended. The decorations were regular air balloons and streamers. Mom made a cake in whatever flavor and shape I chose. We served it with ice-cream and sometimes some chips and candy were also offered. I got my one 2 liter bottle of soda for the year or we had punch. There weren’t elaborate games and the highlight was always sitting in a circle opening presents.
I live in Miami and that is not the standard of today’s parties. My contact with parents across the nation leads me to believe parties have changed everywhere. These days whole families attend parties. A meal is expected, frequently catered. Hired entertainment and bounce houses are the norm. Bakeries, not mom, make the cake. Fancy helium balloons and a blow out trip to a chain party store determine the theme. Party bags filled with a handful of cheap plastic favors are given at the end of the party and nobody sees the birthday boy or girl unwrap their gifts.
My budget and values just don’t jive with today’s birthday parties. In my home we eat nutritious, homemade food. We embrace the essence of green living. We stick to a modest budget. I understand that parties are special events and I’m not a stick in the mud. On the other hand, it just doesn’t seem right to completely abandon our values and lifestyle to celebrate our child. This year my husband and I set out to throw a fantastic party for Max that expressed who we are as a family.
I just couldn’t buy disposable plates, cups, napkins, utensils and dessert plates. The eco-friendly styles on the market are costly and not as cute as the regular ones. A part of me doubts how great they are for the environment; after all, disposable is never the ideal. This year we decided to bite the bullet and buy inexpensive outdoor dishes. We assumed it would cost us more for this party, but within a year we would be saving money. Our first stop was a local restaurant supply store. Items are usually sold by the dozen and if you purchase what the cheap diners buy, your wallet will fare quite nicely. This is what I found:
Plastic cups 6 for $3.65
Cloth napkins 12 for $11.95
Forks 12 for $3.25
Spoons 12 for $1.65
Knives 12 for $2.95
I was disappointed in their plate selection. They seemed pricey and boring, so I searched elsewhere. After exhaustive Internet searches I wound up at IKEA. We found adorable brightly colored plates. We also bought small plates from the children’s section to use as dessert plates at the party and everyday plates for our boys.
Plates $4 for 4 (came in packages of blue, red or yellow)
Dessert plates 6 for $3.95
It’s true, our sons won’t get to go to the party store and choose paper plates in a character they love. That doesn’t bother me, because I will explain how we save our planet by using the same plates. We can decorate in other ways, and frankly, I’m happy to extract my children from the media marketing so insidiously aimed at them.