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When I was a little girl, my mother threw me the greatest birthday parties! I remember watching my mother fill out each of the invitations with her graceful, rounded handwriting. Weeks in advance, my mother would take me to the local party store, "the Ha-lo Gift Shop," where the saleswoman would ceremoniously turn on a basement light to reveal an Aladdin's cave of plastic "goody bag" treats. My mother would indulge me by letting me select absolutely every prize that caught my fancy: rings, plastic magnifying glasses, opalescent strings of beads, bubbles, pencils, pads of paper. Then, with the bag so full of booty it would pinch our fingers to carry it, we would go next door to Davidson's Bakery to order a cake; invariably chocolate and with a doll on top that had eyes that could open and close, perched on a plastic heart-shaped stand.
My mother would be up late the night before, draping the dining room with twisted streamers and rubbing balloons on her hair so the static would make them stick to the walls.
My father dressed as "Toot-Toot the Clown" complete with face makeup and a sequined satin top. We all played Pin the Tail on the Donkey and Hot Potato and my cake always had an extra candle on it than the number of years I was turning, "one for good luck." My mother, during the party, was mostly in the kitchen, preparing and serving tons of food to all the relatives and friends.
So, twenty years later, when my son was turning three years old, I read advice in the parenting books: "Have the number of guests match the age the child is turning." "Birthday parties can be overwhelming." I listened while fellow parents told me, "they don't remember it anyway. Give 'em a cupcake and they're fine." "All those prizes are an expensive waste." "God, you don't really want all those people in your home, do you?" So I did what anyone raised by my mother would do. I IGNORED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!! My son had fifty people at his third birthday party, which had a Curious George theme, thematic games, thematic cake, a banana shaped pinata and a guest appearance by Curious George himself, courtesy of a costumed Daddy (who nearly fainted underneath all that fur). Since his third birthday, not a day goes by that my son doesn't make a suggestion in regard to his fourth birthday! I have never felt so appreciated in my life! I may not be able to top this last one, but I know we'll always remember, as a family, that we celebrated the day he was born with all our might.
Miss Spider's Tea Party by David Kirk
Alfie Gives a Hand by Shirley Hughes
Happy Birthday, Jesse Bear! by Nancy Carlstrom
It's MY Birthday! by Pat Hutchins
Come to My Party by Judith Benet Richardson (check out Judith's jungle party ideas on the net!)
May I Bring a Friend? by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers
Benjamin's 365 Birthdays by Judy Barrett
Little Gorilla by Ruth Bornstein
A Letter to Amy by Ezra Jack Keats
Hooray, A Pinata! by Elisa Kleven
Dandelion by Don Freeman
Lyle and the Birthday Party by Bernard Waber
Serefina Under the Circumstances by Phyllis Theroux
Three Cheers for Catherine the Great by Cari Best
Albert's Birthday by Leslie Tryon
Surprise Party by William Wegman
Birthday Letters by Charlotte Pomerantz
How Many Candles? by Helen V. Griffith
Don't forget to e-mail me with your birthday party ideas and memories!
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