I never planned to have a baby in December. In fact I had always said that was the very LAST month I'd want to have a baby, and so of course when I found out I was pregnant, my due date was December 12.
Being a completely clueless 24 year old I thought "oh that's not so bad, it's far enough away from Christmas." Uh huh. Jake had other ideas. He liked it in there and was NOT coming out. He stayed put until he was coaxed (read: forced) out on December 21st, and then he promptly appeared quite pissed off for the next few days.
So as this child has gotten older, we have made a concious effort not to allow the whole holiday season swallow up his special day. We usually plan his birthday party at least a week or two ahead of his actual birthday, and somehow every year I have to quell my inner Martha and try not to make it a gynormous party. The jury is still out on what constitites a 'big deal' party. Then on his actual birthday we go out for dinner and usually rent a movie. He gets to pick a nice dessert. He gets gifts all month long, what with the party gifts, then the family birthday gifts, and Christmas shortly after. December is a month where it's just party party party.
Now that I have had the experience of 11 December birthday parties, and what with Jake's birthday coming up this month, I thought I'd share some tidbits:
1. Parents will view your invitation as free babysitting and will happily drop the kids off at your door without even meeting you. Invitations to stay for coffee and goodies will be met with "Are you nuts? I'm going Christmas shopping!" as they laugh and skip down your walkway saying, "Have fun!" Don't expect them to stay unless you are serving cocktails (which I've never done, but you know.....)
2. Planning craft activities for a group of boys is akin to trying to teach a pig to sing. Don't bother. Go for the messy, the gross, the noisy. A certain domestic diva may be able to pay the boys on her shows to quietly sit and do crafts, but in reality it's not going to happen.
3. Birthday partyware must be bought in the summer, because otherwise by the end of October everything is adorned with Santa Claus or other Christmas items. Or pumpkins.
4. Santa does visit birthday parties. Just make sure he comes when the kids are young enough to still believe or they will tease your child for being a 'baby'.
5. If you take kids to the pool, make sure that whoever picks them up checks in with you before they leave. Or, upon doing a head count you will notice a child is missing and almost shut down the entire facility while staff and you look for him.
6. Goodie bag items are cheapest if bought after Christmas on clearance for the next year's party, or in the summer on clearance.
7. After the party, be prepared to spend at least 3 hours or so putting together lego toys that your child recieved as presents. More if you had the stupidity to buy him a giant Lego set yourself.
8. Bowling is expensive and not an exciting enough venue for 7 year olds. Be prepared to bribe them in order to keep their interest.
9. Swimming, skating, movies, and McDonalds all make for very stress free celebrations. The adult can sit and watch the kids play, scream, and run around (except in the movies) without having to do any more then watch or drink a cup of coffee. They may cost a little more then doing the home party thing, but this time of year are so totally worth it. No clean up, no worrying that they will wreak your house, you provide the food and you're done.
10. Many free seasonal things happen this time of year that can be part of your party. Parades, open houses at skating rinks or pools, etc. Get the kids to bring a donation to the food bank and you're set.
Pictures to come!