Friday, August 04, 2006

impending festivities

So, Iris's birthday is looming, and it's time to make the invitations. I have a tradition now of making her party invitations by hand, and this was the first year she was old enough that I couldn't just make them, asking for her approval. I had to make them with her. That is much, much harder than making them myself with her creative input.

Of course, just like with the Halloween costumes, we learn yet again that making invitations is more expensive than buying invitations (but probably not as expensive as having custom-made invitations, which we have received for other girls' parties). We dropped more than we expected at the art supply store (on the other hand, the rubber stamps and stamp pads we bought will go into our art supplies and be used again).

Making the invitations was a two day process. We figured out a design last night, and started on it, but we had some setbacks. First, we were stamping a large picture onto tissue paper and pouring glitter on it before the ink dried, then cutting out (with special li'l scissors) the pictures which came out the best. That took us aeons. Then we did my old high school arts trick of spraying these with hairspray as a fixative. That turned out to be the act of a moron. The ink ran, and the tissue became adhered to the table. (Why did that always work so well in high school?? Damn you, Aquanet!). So we were left with a big fat mess, and a husband with the rights to be sarcastic. Only partially daunted, we started over again, and we got the invitations mostly done.

Today, we wrote the text for the cards, which we printed out and glued into our decorated cards, and we decorated and addressed the envelopes. Iris also signed each card "Love, Iris." The first few cards had the "Love, Iris" written in painstakingly artistic writing, with each letter written in a new, jiggly font invented for the occasion by Iris. The middle several cards had the capital L and capital I in the new Iris Font. The last few cards were written in regular old handwriting by the birthday child after crabby old Mommy refused to finish signing them for Iris.

So I was thinking that probably some of the invitees' mothers will be pissed that I handmade the cards and think, "That pathetic stay-at-home mother, she needs to get out of the house." Once I read one of those interminable pieces in the SAHM vs. working mother wars (where are the fathers in all this?), and a working mother confessed to ridiculing a stay-at-home mother for making cupcakes for the school. A gaggle of working mothers, feeling out of place at a classroom Halloween party, joined together to cattily trash the SAHMs who had decorated and baked. "They really need to get a job" was the verdict. After reading that, I imagine the working mothers looking down at me for my pastries, Halloween costumes, and handmade invitations. Hey, even when I was a working attorney, I created such baking extravaganzas as pies with braided crusts, and I made myself the ultimate Medusa costume. It's not that I'm a SAHM; I'm just into cooking, costumes, and cards. My own mother, a SAHM the whole time I was growing up, sniffed at one of my decorated pies once when I was in law school. "I can't be bothered to make crust like that."

I love making Iris's invitations; we also make our Valentines (overharried at the holiday season, we either don't send out Christmas cards at all, or we buy them). Last year, Iris and I, with some assistance from Anton and outright hostility from Lucy, made about one hundred Valentines by hand (Lucy was required to bring one to every child at her preschool; Iris, to bring one for every child in her kindergarten room).

But we have our limits. Where I will not go is joining the increasing trend of photographing all party guests, creating a keepsake with the pictures, and mailing those little gifts in the thank-you notes. My plea to all parents: PLEASE DO NOT JOIN THE TREND OF PEOPLE WHO SEND PRESENTS IN THE THANK YOU CARDS! It's just creating more pressure and elevating the standards. When I get something like this, yes, it's nice for my kid, but I think, "Oh, fuck. Do I have to start taking every single kid's picture and making sure it's a nice one and then print it out, making something out of it, and mail it now??? Is everyone doing this?? Please, oh god, when the fucking party is over, I don't want to have to keep working!" It's enough trouble to do the thank-you cards, which we always do; I don't want to have to create precious keepsakes for each child commemorating the party, too.

Sorry. I just want to draw the line somewhere. I'm doing the fucking gift bags, and I'm sending the thank-you notes (note I did not say "fucking thank you notes", because I think thank you notes are a good thing), but I don't wanna have to send a present of any sort with the thank you note. I have my limits.


Green said...

That's bullshit. They're KIDS! They don't need a damn keepsake reminding them of the birthday party. This is a bad, bad, idea. It's encouraging kids to be packrats, materialistic and to give in to the idea that everything requires Stuff. Bullshit. You come to a party (dressed for a party btw, not in sweatpants), give a present, get a goody bag, within a month get a thank you, and it's done. If you need pictures so badly, then haul your parent to the party at the beginning or end of it with their camera and beg them to take a picture of you. The End. Umm.. so yeah, I'm with you.

Except I disagree about opening presents. Having to watch one kid open 20-30 presents is boring and takes time away from when they could be playing.

I would not, however, be adverse to taking a pic of the kid holding the present and smiling, and including THAT pic in the thank you card. But that'd be pushing it.

Good thing I don't have kids.

the Drunken Housewife said...

We try to do the age appropriate thing, which is to have "one child for each year." So since Iris is turning 7, we're hoping to have 7 kids at the party (I invited a few extra since not all invitees will be able to come). It really doesn't take long to get through one gift per year, and the kids have a good time watching and commenting. Of course, the children are free to drift off and play, but it really takes only about 5-10 minutes to do the presents.

Green said...

I agree it wouldn't take more than 10 minutes or so for a kid to open that many presents. Sounds like I was envisioning a different kind of party than you're planning on having.

I happen to disagree with the concept of equating age with arbitrary things (number of dollars kids get for allowance, friends allowed to come to b-day parties, etc.).