The Bean’s third birthday party

If I have to rank the various aspects of my parenting on a scale – I’d put my throwing of birthday parties at the bottom. I never seem to have the enthusiasm to throw a theme party or anything of the sort. So if my kids want to hold something against me, it’s going to have to be that I didn’t throw them parties in McDonalds and didn’t have a tattoo artist. I think it’s the person I am.

I didn’t go through the whole ‘I have to lose weight to look good for my wedding pictures’ thing that most girls go through. Dude – they’re only pictures and sooner or later you gain back the weight you lost and you never fit into any of the clothes made during that time. Also, if its a love marriage, the man has already seen you and loved you for what you are. Are you really fussing so much to impress a bunch of strangers who are only going to go home and say the food was crap and the bride was over made up? I spent more time fretting over whether I was choosing the right man than what colour my lehenga should be. The man has served me longer than the lehenga and I am not in touch with 99% of the people who attended the wedding and neither do I open the wedding album so I don’t really think I made the wrong decision!

Anyway – my point is, I take a lot more pleasure in planning their weekend outings than I do in planning the annual birthday party and I often wonder if they’ll grow up and find it lacking. Frankly I don’t think fussing over my kid just for that one day is good enough. I know parents who spend weeks planning and lots of money too – but I have limited time and money so I’d just much rather spend the weeks running up to the party, also, partying! Plus I do hope they’ll be able to look back in the years ahead and say they had fun every week, rather than just big bash birthday parties. Sometimes I feel we put too much emphasis on the celebration and not what it stands for or means. I’d like the kids to think about celebrating life on a daily basis – not just on certain days.

There is no judgment involved here and hats off to those who can do it, but I am just not that parent. Someday they will be old enough to ask for their parties to be held in certain ways and if I can afford it and approve of it, I will do it, because its their choice to make. In my head, the guidelines for my children’s birthday parties areΒ  –

– I want the parties to be thrown at home. No matter how small my home, it is my home and my children’s home and we’re not ashamed of it and neither do we mind the mess and the chaos. We welcome it. Plus – there is a certain similarity and anonymity to throwing McDonald’s and Pizza Hut parties. Its so much nicer to eat the different food that each home prepares, the different games organised, the different atmosphere each time. Not the same damn bouncy castles and the need to be constantly entertained. I recall so many birthday parties from my childhood simply because each was so different. Different aunties, different food… each distinctive. No need to keep up with the Joneses and do exactly what the other person did which is what the kids are sadly geared to. My kids sometimes ask when we leave for a party – will there be a train when we get there. And I tell them, no, its going to be absolutely different. And it is, and they have a blast and I’m glad we still have a few good old fashioned friends to keep our kids grounded.

– I might cater if I am really short of time, else I don’t believe in catering for kids because they’re so busy playing that they barely eat anything. So I keep it simple home made food – sandwiches, popcorn, alphabet pasta salad, chhole and puris, sausages, kebabs, juice and cake. The food might vary but it’s home made and simple and will not upset a child’s stomach. I do wish I were a better cook, but this is the best I can do and I haven’t got complaints, neither have people dropped out πŸ˜‰

– I try to entertain them within my means. The way we did as kids. You put 10 kids together and you let them loose in the nursery and you don’t need a tattoo artist or a magician. They are always happy to have a new set of toys to play with. Stuff that they don’t own. In a year or so when they’re old enough to play by the rules its going to be passing the parcel and musical chairs or pinning the tail on the donkey. As for themes – I thoroughly appreciate them when we do them as adults – but for kids of this age, it just ends up being one more headache for all the parents and once the kids reach the venue, they get busy playing and forget all about the theme. I’d think the early teens are a good time to start, when they can take responsibility for their own costumes and decorations etc.

And so it was that this year the Bean’s party came at me out of the blue. Caught up in running for admissions for the two of them, I wasn’t even thinking of a birthday party. I knew it was coming up – I just didn’t realise how close it was. So a week in advance I remembered and quickly invited some good friends and their children. As a working mother I have very little time to spare and I racked my brains to see what others had done – Most of them throw parties in malls – so I thought I’d have to go that route this year. At the last moment however pride kicked in and I swore I’d throw it at home even if it killed me. I didn’t want to give up what I felt was a principle, just because I am a working mom now and take the easy way out. Pride will kill me soon. Trust me. And maybe I’ll cave next year, but this year I’m clinging on by my fingernails.

A few days ago the kids and I had planted chana and rajma in jam jars and they’d loved watching them sprout and grow. Some days the two of them have sat for an hour arguing about whether they’d just seen the plant shoot up a bit or not. When I asked the Bean what she wanted to give her friends, she said she wanted to give them chana in a jar. And so I spent one night cleaning out my kitchen, hunting for 13 small jars. Switching masalas to other bottles and soaking them in a tub of water to get the labels off. Then I let the Bean line each one with cotton wool and throw in some chana and rajma. And then I had to remember to water it everyday.

The return gifts were books from Pratham. The proceeds go entirely to charity. Everything was packed in brown paper bags. We picked up a pinata of course because the excitement is insane. And the beauty is that all the little kids, except for two older kids, chased the confetti. The older ones took almost all the goodies home and the little ones didn’t mind so it worked out well. The loot bags too, were just recycled newspaper bags. I asked all the maids to leave – I hate those parties where the damn maids jump in and start pushing to get the goodies for their wards. Damn mothers also stand around and allow it instead of telling them to let the kids just have fun.

My 19 year old cousin was quite open about his disapproval of my choice of return gifts. “You and the kids like planting and reading – others may not… ” I had a simple answer – we only give gifts that we believe in. If you believe in Ben 10 and Hannah Montana – then you give those as return gifts, and we are happy to accept what you think is an appropriate gift… Similarly, I believe in this, I think its awesome for kids to learn to nurture plants, to read.. and so I will give those. He didn’t argue it and I really do hope that people appreciated the effort that went into what I did. Because I spent a week with my kitchen counter cluttered up with jars and jars of seeds!

We spent the entire afternoon blowing up balloons till we were breathless, making sandwiches, setting up a circus tent that the kids have, putting out a trampoline and some more stuff until our little balcony was swamped. (I forgot to move the cactus but I remembered soon enough after the kids began to push each other around right next to it!)

I also got tubs of playdough, skittles and a few other new toys and laid them out. The party began by 5 and we wrapped up at 7.30. And those 2.5 hours were a blast. Whistles being blown, children driving a motorised bike around the house over our toes, swinging, screaming, eating cake, dropping juice….

And the Bean got a whole bunch of elephants. Her birthday cake was – what else, a Heffalump. By the time the party ended, the house was a mess, the Bean and the Brat were exhausted, the other kids were refusing to go home and the OA and I were satisfied and happy to have had the party go off smoothly.

The best part of the party was a friend’s 4 month old. She was crying nonstop and driving her mother nuts. I took her and rocked her and she fell asleep in my arms, giving her mother a break. I think children sense your growing annoyance which is why often the OA would succeed in rocking our kids to sleep when I couldn’t. I spent a large part of the evening running around organising things with this baby in the crook of one arm, forgetting that she was there.. so tiny and quiet was she.

Made me realise how completely easy it is to have a third kid when you’ve already brought up two and love kids. Specially tempting now that my ‘little’ one is three years old! Aneela’s visit drove the same point home. Oh well – it isn’t meant to be but there’s always the joy of snatching these little moments. The Bean fell in love with her and I sat on the floor in a corner while the Bean patted her, stroked her and kissed her while she slept on. I always assumed that the Brat accepted the Bean into his life because she came so early. But I realise now that it is more to do with temperament. Both my children are free from jealousy and love having little babies over. “Can we keep her, mama? I want her to stay here so that I can keep playing with her nose..” said the birthday baby Bean.

Anyhow folks. Thats what the party was like – 3 days later we’re still getting confetti out from under the couch. I think that pretty much says it all.

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187 thoughts on “The Bean’s third birthday party

  1. That was beautifully written MM and it sure sounds like the bean had a blast! Here’s to many more such home-ishtyle birthday parties and having a ball every day of the life.

  2. This was so nice to read! I guess parties hosted at home are always special, and all that matters is the kids had fun! We never had big affairs for our birthdays and as the years progressed all that was there, was a small get together and cake and conversations and these are what I remember and miss the most now.

    • erm. NOW the trolls will come in. Watch. they love words like inspiration. it really sets them off πŸ™‚
      seriously though – i’m just another middle class mom, being stingy πŸ˜‰

  3. wow so sweet! We always had bday parties at home and had homemade stuff unlike the other kids and till date, I loved my bday parties the best rather than going to malls and having it there! I’m sure the brat and bean will love your innovative gifts and ideas when they grow up to be like you πŸ™‚

  4. I love the idea of giving little children growing saplings! I only recently started sprouting seeds and still jump out of bed in the morning wanting to see how much they have grown… an experience which I am sure I would have enjoyed even more as a kid. (I remember a class project in which we had to sprout channe and I botched mine up big time with mould growing on the seeds and in the wet cotton… :< )

  5. yippppeeee….there are some non themed people in the world, there are some kids who still have birthdays like we used to, there are some kids who know of things beyond TV’s, there are parents who dont want to surpass other parties thrown…and people do still eat chutney sandwiches at parties….

    Phewww…MM i love the way you are bringing up ur kids…!! i hope to be copy cat types

  6. Chana in a jar?!? I could have gone my whole life without ever having formed that sentence.

    FWIW, the sandwiches made my mouth water. They also made you seem such a MOM. I was going to say so on FB, then remembered that that IS how you self-identify! MM.

  7. A very very happy birthday to the Bean. These wishes come late, but mean as much. Hope the year ahead is one filled with more love, laughter and happiness for her, and her family.(Posted a long comment wishing her on your birthday post and then there was a power cut).

    I started reading your blog when the Bean was born, and she’s already three! Your babies are growing up, and quickly at that.

    I am extremely impressed by the effort that went into the party. Especially the plants and books. If any of my cousins have the courage to let me help in the planning of their kid’s birthday party, I am so going to steal that idea. I think it’s amazing that you put in so much effort into it.

    I’m also glad you decided to go the old fashioned route of birthday parties at home. That trend seems to be disappearing pretty quickly so its nice to that there are some which are still happening at home.

  8. Awesome! Happy Birthday to little beanie and congrats to you for having such sweet and smart kids. (touchwood)
    I remember all mine and my sister’s birthdays because each one was so special. Mom and dad cooked and we are in paper plates and wore paper caps and everything was so sasta and tikau. No tiaras, no pink lace no nothing!
    Love your party. Love love love it! And I love those huge white fabric lanterns you have in your living room. This India visit I am going to buy something like that. Kahan se liya?

  9. Ok, it’s official. You are my queen. I am going through a super rough patch in life and it’s been a horrible day. My best friend and husband isn’t around and I am ready to jump off my terrace. But your post made me happy. Thank you.

    • What happened? You wanna talk? Don’t jump off the terrace. Its becoming far too common a way to end life. Call me for some innovative suggestions. I have it on good authority that driving your child’s well sharpened pencil through your heart is the new and cool way to do it.

    • well books are pretty common and i’m grateful most of my friends do that. its the seedlings i wanted to give because the kids can actually see the roots and the shoots and you can teach them about it in such a fun way

  10. I want those sandwiches, it looks so yummy, I’m pregnant and all the time hungry and you post the pics of sandwiches NOT FAIR!

    Lovely B’day party, even I like to host parties at home but not this year I’m too exhausted with all this nausea and stuff. Hopefully next year it will be at home.

  11. I have a 11 yr old and I always have had parties at home. I switch the kids though. Lats year, it was the boy’s turn to have a party(we rented a small cottage at a park and I cooked). This year, the girls are going to have a party and we are doing it at the church house πŸ™‚

    I love the simplicity of going over to someone’s house. It always annoys me at the party places, where you have to rush and rush to get through the 1.5 hours they give for open play + cake and food. If my child still wanted to jump on the trampoline, it wasnt allowed because its time to move on to the next station.

    Happy birthday to the bean!
    I love your return gift idea. very unique and I am sure the kids loved it!And look its with a green ribbon,perfect for St Patrick’s day today!

  12. Hi MM,

    Adding personal touch to a party like this is really cool. My daughter’s b’day is coming up in May. I was toying with the idea of a party in the backyard. The sandwiches look so yummy. Can you please tell me what kind of sandwiches they are? Thanks bunch!

  13. Hey there MM, Just thought I’d stop by and congratulate you guys and Beanie on her 3rd birthday. Time flies doesn’t it? (Bubsie will be 4 this November – I can’t believe it.)

    Also wanted to drop by and say that I miss reading your blog posts :(. Inshallah will be back again when time isn’t so tight. Till then, take care.

    Love and best wishes,
    MJ

  14. Thank God! Someone else who doesn’t think it’s mandatory to make a big production of a kid’s birthday by having a fancy party. I have to admit the idea of having any party at all gives me the shivers. But at least the house ones are ok. On second thought, so much work!

    Also, I want that channa in a jar thing. I’ve always been fascinated by them but never had one. So, I’m going to try to do it. But…having just killed my orchid plant… I’m wondering, what happens to the sprouts after a point. Do they wither? Or do you have to transplant them?

  15. Really great post. I am a mom who “used to” throw large over the top parties for my kids. Partly because it was what I wanted as a kid and partly because we belong to a large community and I needed to return invitation. However, recently after the last mega party, my daughter very sweetly said, “mommy, can I have a small sleepover with just my cousins next year.”

    All kids need is a cake and friends, and that will have a great time.

    • this is a toughie. if you have a large community, there is no wriggling out of it. my friend who has a small house, throws three little parties. one day for family, one day for school friends and one day for other assorted locality plus family friends. works out very well and she doesnt make a big deal of any of them.

      • like me 😦
        can’t wriggle out of returning a million invites from the community.
        but thats exactly what i do too nowadays – have a really sweet nice special birthday with close friends, then have a junta one in the community for which i hire older kids in the community to organise the party, have games etc! and then one for school friends which is done in accordance with what most (at least the sane ones) school moms are doing that year)!!!
        drives me nuts and i dream of moving to a city where i know no one and when i can call ALL my daughters’ friends and yet have 6 kids at the party!!!
        πŸ™‚

      • oh and i gave pratham books too! in fact one was written by a cousin of g’s – chuskit goes to school, and we loved it and one year i gave all kids that one.

  16. This reminded me of the birthday parties my sister and I used to have. The food used to be awesome – all cooked by my mum. Once when I was 5 or 6, i was sent to invite my friends for the birthday party later that evening. And I told each one of them – Do get a gift!! Of course that was an original one that parents hadn’t taught! I want cake now!

  17. this is timely and inspiring (i typed this before i read the comments above..). i am less than a month away from my big day! although this year it will have to be a fairly large number of people. you have convinced me to have this at home, whatever happens…

  18. MM, a nice return gift, those sprouts. i wish i’d thought that up – nevertheless, i’m pretty ‘inspired’ by the idea and will definitely copy it when my child’s birthday comes around.
    btw, there’s one big change in kiddie birthday parties these days – the funda of return gifts. hamaare zamaaney mein (yes, it is a long time ago, a quarter century, almost!) there was nothing like return gifts – kids came to your birthday, the cake was cut, they gave u gifts, balloons were burst, songs sung, mom dished out cakes, wafers, batata wadas (slurp!) and Rasna. that’s it. I wonder where this ‘return gift’ thing popped up up from. i was mighty irritated when i had to go through with this during my child’s birthdays, but wifey wouldn’t hear any of it.

    • yes – i was also annoyed by it, but I live in Delhi – Show-off central! at most parties the return gifts are more expensive than the gift I give – watches, softboards, huge barbie dress up sets,.. you name it, my kids have received it in the name of return gifts. in the face of that.. my sprouts are rather… errr ….piddly

      • Show-off central…hmm… now you’ve got me worried!we’re planning to shift to delhi (provided some things work out on the job front)…already, we’ve heard many stories about the famous delhi attitude, now i’ll have to reckon with the ‘bling factor’ as well!

        • you are?! awesome.
          well even though I am besotted with Delhi I will admit that its blingier than any of the other metros. That said if you have kids, its the best place. Lots of open space, greenery, parks, theatre (check the delhievents or buzzintown websites), plenty of heritage and nature walks … you name it, you have it.

          • right. the move is still an iffy thing, but we’ve kind of started thinking about it…rents, expenses…pros/cons etc. yes, the green lungs of the city are an attraction, surely. will check the websites too.

            • its also very reasonable. be it north, south, east or west Delhi – you get a range of accomodation. schooling is the only pain in the.. err.. posterior. All the best in case you do decide to move.

  19. GOodness! How could you keep the kids away from all those gaudy theme parties? You can’t spend 2 lakhs on your 3 year old
    s birthday party? SHEESH!
    psst…I read the comments and din’t see any trolls arounds, so I thought I’d try and step into their shoes today :mrgreen:
    But stepping out of their shoes…this is the way every kid under 13 should get a party. After 13, I think they should decide what they want and do it on their own! πŸ˜€

    • psst…by ‘this’ I obviously meant home parties like the one you threw. I got worried after reading my own comment! I just pretended to be a troll, am not a troll otherwise!:)

    • ROFL!! Good job Meira. between you and Arun I’m covered for the day.
      You’re very right – I should totally throw a Rs 3 lakh birthday party for my kids – or else drown myself πŸ˜€

  20. I simply LOVED your return gifts. Sounds like the kiddos enjoyed themselves to the core, and yeah, a home-party is in some ways so much more satisfying than a Mac or a Pizza Corner one.

  21. Looks like you all had a blast! Books and plants as return gifts…what a wonderful idea!
    While reading the part about maids I was thinking how about packing some candies or small gifts for them too so that they can take it back to their children? Not being judgemental, but just a thought. Whenever I see maids in parties, I always wonder what runs through their minds!

    • not at all – i appreciate the thought.
      1. in this case however they are all live in maids with their families in far flung villages in west bengal or nepal or bihar. they wont be seeing their children for atleast 6 months to a year.
      2. they’re mostly young unmarried girls so there are no kids involved at all
      3. most families give them boxes of mcdonalds burgers or samosas etc because theyre too busy chasing kids at the party, to eat. i however, dont encourage people to bring maids to my house at all – just as i dont drag a maid to anyone else’s house. its just a few hours and the maids create more chaos. its simpler to just have parents and kids. if they DO insist on bringing maids, i give them what i’ve made for the party, what everyone is eating. no discrimination.

    • all i can say is rob a few of the maids and send them to me and i in turn will rob a few from here and send to you (since one cannot covet one’s neighbours maid – another’s neighbour’s maid is ok i guess).
      πŸ™‚

  22. I know I’m a bit late, but wishing the Bean a very happy year πŸ™‚

    Can’t help saying this, MM, but you have the most gorgeous saris (esp the blue one on the previous post) πŸ˜€

    • i LOVE sarees πŸ™‚
      its my dream to own one from every state. I think I’ll get there soon
      then I realised even within the states each region has diff types. I think the OA will be broke before I get there.

      • Dude!!!!!!!!!! (I know, it’s against my principles to use so many exclamation points but there’s a reason.)
        Are you sure you didn’t have a twin sister? I should check with my mum if i had one and if she gave that one away.
        I have saries from every state, except perhaps Punjab, but that could be cause they don’t make saries :P! I set out collecting them about 4 years ago with a national integration theme!

      • *squeaking in delight*
        I want one from every state too. Though my collection started just a year ago, but I’l get there. With the Chanderis and Mekhlas and Tangails waiting for us. So what if the spouses go broke. We’l still shine in our sarees πŸ™‚

          • I just sent you a mail of all the byoootiful sarees I picked up last week and some more! Did I tell you that my BFF and I plan to run our own place selling sarees and silver jewellery? We have the name and the VC ready. Its a matter of time and finding the common city to launch the business from. If and when that happens, I will die of happiness.. going next month to Kerala and can’t wait to add some kasavukada sarees to my collection πŸ™‚ And I am not even married!! You think I should let in the boy I marry, on this little obsession of mine? πŸ˜›

            • And with the amount that my spouse keeps travelling I plan on making him visit all the famous shops in every place and buy me a sari from there πŸ™‚

              My Bengal collection is mostly done except for a baluchari which my mom insists I should wear only after another ten years. She thinks I look waayyy too old in that

            • @ Supmm – i got married in a white and gold baluchari and i have the most breathtaking black baluchari with a blue and gold pallu… sigh. what else you got from bengal?

  23. You have company when it comes to throwing B’day parties..mine is further stripped down πŸ˜€
    Cake+ Biryani + Juice & Chips πŸ˜€ and so far neither hv complained. Mostly it’s the kids + all their neices & nephews… Lots of singing, playing,laughter all ending with food. No return gifts either coz all the neices and nephews are well beyond that age. BTW, For not cooking regularly you have whipped up quite a fare there.

    Also..nice sari :-).

  24. LOL.
    i love how calmly you planned this. and how you made sure it was all about the kids and not about themes and color schemes.
    my mother obsessed over our birthday parties. themes, colors, puppet shows, walk around characters, cakes, and for me the perfect outfit.
    she’d go through fashion mags and decide which hollywood celeb’s outfit she loved, and would have it made for baby me.
    but i realize it usually ends up being about the parents. I only remember these things because of the videos. regardless of the fact that my mother made them events to be ‘talked’ about in the social circles, i’m dead sure none of us kids remember.
    her heart was in the right place.
    πŸ™‚

    i LOVE the giveaways. I used to make those jar plants with my mom too, and LOVED getting books as gifts. so points for you there!!!

    • I agree – I have no doubt the heart is always in the right place. In this case I place the blame squarely on myself. I find myself lacking in the enthu department and I wish I could do more for the kids. Let me tell you, the bean didnt even wear ‘new’ clothes – i mean they were brand new – bought by her grandmother and never worn, but i hadnt picked up something specifically for the birthday. and i know the brat too will be dressed in anything decent. i wish i knew how to channelise my energy and make a grander party, but i just cant do it 😦

  25. My birthdays were always a huge deal for me and mom and dad put in so much effort to fix the house, decide the menu, put up fun games… I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am very certain that the brat and the bean will be eternally grateful for the efforts you put in.

    Hug!

  26. I completely love home birthdays… they are more effort but then when they are small is actually when you can do them. For all you know, once they grow up, they might want their birthdays in the mall too πŸ™‚

    • exactly what i said. let me make the most of my middle class desire to keep it small right now. once they grow, its hard to tell them how to celebrate their own birthday, na?!

  27. It sounds like so much fun. And there’s so much hope in this post for people like me it’s not even funny – people who can’t understand why someone would have their kids party in McDonald’s, that is. Ofcourse, life will find a way of making me swallow my words and my mcnuggets.

    And oh, just yesterday I was thinking about our ex-neighbours’ kids’ birthdays that we attended for 6 years. Each time the menu was potato wafers, home-made samosas and Frooti, and everyone danced to some Mr. India song. And I swear those are the only ones I remember.

    PS: Can’t see the pictures for some reason. 😦

    • LOL! I guess so. I end up eating most of what I’ve said with some humble pie. But that doesnt stop me from saying it very boldly and bravely πŸ˜€
      cant see pics? 😦

  28. I loved the return gifts too. Perfect way of sharing what you care about and think is important. Also, I wish I could turn 3 again and come play with Beanie. I mean really turn 3, not pretend. 😐

  29. Loved it MM! We throw most of our parties at home and each one has been special in its own way. The one time we did it outside was at quite a green place where the kids got to climb into tree houses, feed ducks and got potted plants as return gifts and carried food made at home to satisfy our consciences…so you see, if you have to cave in, you can still stick to your principles somewhat! And yeah, we have a small place and do 2-3 small parties for different small groups when it’s a landmark birthday.

  30. Wow!love,love,love the return gifts!(beanies’beans):) and it looks like the kids had a blast-absolutely age-appropriate MM.
    -it’s really amazing to read about the parties people throw for their kids costing thousands of bucks…recently a friend of mine whose daughter just turned 13,came to my ward with her friends(Paeds Oncology)and gave out McDee’s happy meals for all the kids(about 25 of them) and spent some time playing with them.these kids are from very poor and rural backgrounds and spend a long time in the hospital-it was her own idea and also very age appropriate again,I think.

    • what a sweet gesture. i prefer it when kids choose to do it themselves. somehow i dont feel right making that choice for my 4 year old. if he or she chooses to do it – well i’ll just be so happy

  31. MM

    The party sounds a lot like the kind we had as kids, with home made cakes and gulab jamuns etc. I agree with you on the theme less b’day party, it just seems like a lot of unnecessary effort for small kids who’re going to enjoy the games and possibly the return gifts more than anything else.In our setup, McDonalds etc is not an option, so the out of home b’day parties are generally on the mess lawns where kids have enough place to run around and food is a mix of home cooked or catered by the mess stuff.Don’t know what kind of party Artim’s first will be, but one thing is for sure with a lazy mom like me, he’s not going to have a theme party!

  32. Loved the return gifts, MM! What a wonderful idea! Bean sprouts for Bean’s birthday! I might copy the idea with your permission for my daughter’s next birthday. But I’ll grow bataanys! πŸ˜€

    I loved the fact that you decided to have the party at home and cooked yourself! I’m literally sick of the themed birthdays in clubs. I did a similar thing for Bataany’s 3rd birthday too. Had the party at home, called just two of her closest friends. They forgot everything else and played and danced and burst balloons for 3 straight hours! Rest of the crowd was her grandparents and a bunch of her favorite aunts and uncles. Menu was just cake, homemade pasta, shavige bhath (you know the stuff?), dal vadas, chips and mango juice. Everybody loved it, especially the kids. I hope I can continue doing this every year until she turns old enough to decide how she wants it…

  33. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being a shred of sanity amidst the fanciful madness that have become kiddie birthdays. I totally agree with the concept of home parties and may I say I absolutely LOVED the idea of plants as return gifts? Fantastic. I’m going to tell all my school parents and nudge them toward the homegrown. It’s about bloody time.

  34. for the first time we celebrated my son’s bday party at a local moon bouncy place simply because he wanted to invite 22 of his friends (originally the count was 43 -had to negotiate quite a bit to drill it down). i am all for home based parties but because of the numbers, we decided to use another place this year. i was quite pleased with it despite the horror stories i have heard previously. there was no rush, the attendants were kind and courteous and the place was nice, spacious with tonnes of play options for the little ones. they all had a blast-and this is what matters.

    i love the idea of giving kids a sapling-I once attended a kiddie party where the kids did their own planting and took home the finished potted plant with them as a return gift. it was simple but fun. and yes, i am all for books! i am so done with spending on crap that fill up the goody bags. it is a waste of money and effort. i really like your idea of buying it from a charitable place- i need to look one up for the next party i plan. its cool to be able to do something for the community while throwing a party for your precious child!

    this was a wonderful read. and it feels so good to know that i am not the only ‘nerdy/boring’ parent out there!

  35. I am so going to steal the ‘beans in a jar’.. I’ve always had home parties and they are so much fun. But this time for C’s b’day I cldn’t think of doing it at home for 50 odd people.. so ended up organizing it in the park and it was a lot of fun. And, I think this party was for me and the husband more than anything else, to celebrate one year of being parents! There is no way she’s going to remember.
    ps.. loved the saree πŸ™‚

  36. This party of yours has brought back several memories. When birthday party food was chutney sandwiches, potato wafers, a big slice of cake and boiled chana. Is it any wonder after all of that, that Bombing the City was our favourite game. πŸ™‚

  37. Lovely post! Your beans in a jar reminded me of Christmas time, when mustard seeds would be sprouted in big trays, for setting up the manger scene. In 4-5 days, you had the most beautiful, velvety carpet base for putting up all the clay figurines of the whole Nativity scene! That and real, even if thin and spindly ‘Christmas trees’ made for beautiful memories! πŸ™‚

  38. ‘Similarly, I believe in this, I think its awesome for kids to learn to nurture plants, to read.. ‘

    Totally agree with you MM. Doing all this plant stuff and other things requires more effort and thought than all the senseless and expensive Hannah montanna stuff. All that stuff is pure merchandising. Put a barny or some other branded animal on a rubber on a or water bottle and it is twice as expensive.

    I get much more fun with my 3 year old in planting seeds, taking care of plants, watching flowers etc. Appreciating nature is priceless..

  39. You rock! No really, I felt so vindicated reading this lovely description of Beanie(of the Halo fame) and her party. Guess who we’re inviting to V’s upcoming birthday bash at my humble residence or the local park:-)

    Okay now for a little cribbing of my own- I threw this awesome(or so I thought) X’mas party last December for V’s new school pals(all kindergartners) and while it was total chaos in my split level, not-so-palatial apartment the kids and us thoroughly enjoyed it. I had fun things for the little ones to do(painting cheap baubles for the tree and hanging them up, freeze dancing and baking shaped cookies together for them to take home). We invited the parents for a latish dinner and by then the kids were left free to their own devices. They were having a blast but were obviously boisterous which I thought was all in good fun with no one hurt or anything.

    I’m thinking…everyone’s having fun….but lo and behold, at the door while seeing people off I get this comment from atleast couple moms, ” I don’t know how you do it! I would go nuts having so many people in such a small space(my apt is 1800 sq feet!) and it was just too chaotic”

    I’m like “WTF??”. I mean isn’t that the whole point, letting kids run wild and have fun.

    Needless to say, I’m now on the hunt for new friends:-)

  40. Happy Birthday to the little one! I am ready to pop out my first soon (yes there will be a second one – I have decided :)) and I can’t wait to start celebrating the birthdays….birthdays were always a big deal for me and mine were so much like the one you did for bean….

  41. Good to hear a sane voice in the world of blogs and social networking where obsessing (showing off?) kids parties is the norm. I think too many people have too much money and not enough wisdom or education to know what to do with it. Happy birthday to your lovely daughter!

  42. That sounds like a fun party MM ! And the return gifts are a reflection of what we like …. and guests should understand and appreciate the effort gone in.
    If its plants for you … its puzzles and coloring materials for me … I mostly end up giving puzzles.
    As much as I love hosting parties at home, I simply get drained out cleaning up the mess after the party and getting the home ready for the party. With no household help, its BP and I who have to manage our home … I find it much easier to host it in parks … the kids always love playing there and luckily for me, my kids summer babies … perfect weather to host outdoor parties. The menu is mostly home made … except the cake and juice πŸ™‚

    On themed parties …. I truly believe in them… then again it has to be age appropriate. Like we had Farm animals theme for 1st year and Rainbow colors theme for 4th year. And I could see my kids appreciate the theme.

  43. Wonderful party! You know, among all the things I liked, I think I best liked the fact that the Bean wasn’t made to wear a poofy, n-layered, gauzy frock! Happy birthday to her. πŸ™‚

  44. Home parties rule! They win over a McDonalds any day. I think home parties are so much more personal and have more character and warmth, plus like you said the food is unique and different from the same old pizza slice and burger. The sandwiches look yummy and the pinada is so cute!

  45. have the confidence to be openly proud of yourself and your ideals. It’s great that you stuck to your principles of having a no-frills party. Why the modest prelude, constant reference to “middle class” etc.? Are you happy with your party or are you embarrassed by it? Would you really be posting all these pictures of something you felt you didn’t do adequately? I am not being trollish- just trying to figure out your stand from this post-its hard to make out. For eg. you responding to a comment that return gifts are a new-fangled thing but then quickly pointing out: “look-my return gift was so small and low-budget and it was not a barbie set”. What gives?

    A lot of kiddie parties I am going to these days are deliberately toned down: to make a point or simply due to recession. But there’s nothing to make a big deal about either way. You could’ve just said: i celebrated the bean’s party at home: we all had a blast. look at the pictures.

    • hmm.. maybe it IS lack of confidence?
      as to modesty and references to middle class – well, its BECAUSE I am middle class, arent I? πŸ™‚ so why not refer to it? They’re very middle class virtues, I think! Perakath and the Intern (two other readers) have a joke where they count how many times I call myself small town girl. *shrug* I AM one and it will always be referred to.
      I think every post has a point. One – its a record of our life for the kids and if my thinking is being laid bare, its so that they understand why I chose to do what I chose to do, when they read it 10 years from now. Circumstances will have changed and it will be easier to understand their childhood if I explain my choices to them. So really – a lot of it is about them. and not about you all, the readers.
      two – the disclaimers are necessary – because even if you ARENT a troll, you ARE questioning my post and my tone. Trolls tend to do that. So the explanations and defences are basically laid out for them, should they stop by and have a go at me! Capsice? πŸ™‚

      • I never saw this blog as a memoir of sorts for the kids (duh!) -so never thought about that. …that will definitely be very very cool and interesting- to see how they respond to, assimilate and understand their mother through her blog.

        I just find it very grating to the ears when people keep using the term “middle class” in a false modesty way. May be the boundaries are shifting, but when I grew up, middle class, meant we couldn’t afford a full time cook or an ayah and stayed in a rented matchbox apt. we went to the neighbourhood school..etc.

        anyway, i really dont’ want to sound contentious, -perhaps questioning your tone, yes, but only to get a hang of your post. nothing else.

        • not at all. but then if you’re anywhere 20 plus then middle class is not really the same as it was in those days na?
          in our time middle class drove a scooter – today they all have cars.
          in our time middle class didnt travel abroad – today they do.
          you might find it grating and think its ‘false modesty’ but well, i guess that is for me to know and readers to only guess at. who knows – i might not be a middle class woman but an 80 year old perverted man πŸ˜‰
          and what would a “mad momma’s” blog be if not a memoir of sorts for her kids? πŸ™‚
          anyway – i guess you’re a new reader, so welcome… perhaps as you read, you’ll get the picture.

    • Hey T,
      Good point: Mad Momma could have said “celebrated the bean’s party at home: we all had a blast. look at the pictures.” If this was a flickr photostream. But, but, but, this is a blog.
      Doing what you suggest would also mean depriving us, her completely jobless violently voyeuristic readers, who look forward to her very detailed accounts of her life.

      Oh and that point about the kids knowing her choices as well.

  46. Wowww that was nice party..Can’t stand those party places..really can’t..Home parties are soo much fun..We had A’s first at a private party room,which was good,but lacked something..yes..the stuff that my memories are made of.The 2nd was at home..with HEAVY DUTY cooking.This year we are going to have a general theme,floating..lots of home made food..and backyard running and playing..Sounds good enough to me.

    BTW,loved the bean idea!!

  47. where do you get the energy to fit so much into your day??? (not just with regards to this post, but in general, since i do come by off and on) i’m just trying to hold down a regular job and live with the in-laws and i am pooped. hats off ! and loved the sprouted-beans-in-a-jar return gift idea too! love your blog. will stop by more often πŸ™‚

  48. That seems like a wonderful party, MM. WIth so much love and effort put by you and OA, can your kids ever complain of anything. I love the potted jar idea…..and they looked so beautiful. How I wished even I got that return gift πŸ™‚ (btw, if I succeed to incorporate half of your efforts in my baby’s b’day party in May, I will be a proud parent) You inspire me MM, to push my limits.

  49. MM,

    Your post made me stand by my principles all over again.. I was beginning to weaken n was thinking of keeping up with the Jonses but I’m so proud of you for doing the b’day the ‘old fashioned way’ like you say!

    I take immense pleasure in having our family/ friends over home to celebrate birthdays with us, there have been times when the number of people far outnumber the space in the house but then i’ve just split the parties into 3 days – twins friends, our friends and family!!!!

    Yes, its more work but then yes! its also more fun, more personal and more days to celebrate and remember!
    Last year i remember asking the twins who all they wanted to invite for their birthday and then we sat and wrote out invites, I spent 2 hrs driving around town to about 15 houses and the twins went in to invite their friends – the excitement on their faces was all it took to make me stop cursing the traffic and smile and they’re looking forward to their next b’day party already!!! In this day and age of mobiles, smses and emails, one would think i’m nuts and what a waste of time and energy but i think my twins learnt something that day!

    Plants and books is brilliant as return gifts! The twins potted a plant last summer – it now adorns a prime place in our living room and they talk to it everyday!!!!!

    Your post makes me feel better about the way i’m bringing up my kids – good or bad, atleast i know i’m not the only one here:)

  50. Looks like fun was had by all which is always a good thing. As for me, I can’t stand cleaning up the mess the next day and I can’t cook at all, so I am the queen of outsourcing.

    We also gave books as return gifts to kids or a small thing: like a rubik’s cube. We wanted the return gift to be (a) one thing only so that there is no mess with a hundred small, useless things – admittedly this is more for the parents than the kids since kids love small, useless things (b) something that was gender neutral – and god, how difficult is it to buy toys that are gender neutral? (c) within our budget.

    The plants are a great idea, only I’m not sure I would have the patience to grow the stuff at all. In fact, wait, I’m not even sure we have 13 masala jars…

    n!

  51. And you know, sometimes I’m not always sure why old-fashioned is good. I think its only good if you enjoy it anyway. if not, I think tradition, doing things the old-fashioned way, doing things by hand, by yourself etc can be a huge burden.

    Obviously you seem to have had fun, so aal izz well.

    n!

  52. First of all, Happeee Birthday Bean!:)
    I dived into your Momma’s blog some three years ago. oh yeah it was when you Bro had jumped(?) on your momma when you were still in there.
    I’ve read through your birthdays, diwali and christmas celebrations, weekend picnic,holidays and visit to grandmas town and more…

    Now visiting your Momma’s space has become an habit πŸ™‚

    I wish you a 100 more funfilled joyous, wonderful, worry-freee years and birthdays ahead! πŸ™‚

    Have a great everyday:)

  53. Sounds like an amazing party was had by all! Talk about turning three in STYLE :).

    As for the food thing, I think lots of people head off to McDs etc just to spare the trouble of making food themselves. Nothing like homemade food, seriously!

    Oh, and you’re tagged.

  54. I think I agree with n!.

    Many of us long for the way things were done in our childhood has much to do with what they made us feel at that time.I so fondly remember navaratri’s and diwali celebrations back home, because they were the happiest times of my life. And I would want to do the same for my kids. I am very certain that Bean and Brat will cherish all of MM’s old fashioned ways. Decades from now when they will look back, these days will stand for love, warmth belonging and I sure they too will write a similar post on their for their kids… !!!

    Happy Birthday Bean…

  55. Wow nice party.
    I wanna see photo of the birthday cake (sounds delicious)
    (pixellate the name in case it does not say Happy 3rd Birthday Bean !!!!)

    Beans sprouts as gifts to all the sprouts who came to Bean’s Birthday! Talk about the well thought gift

        • Ummmm…if i was any fairer, i would be turning beet red with embarrassment now! I saw the Dora face and assumed it ws you. In my defence, the camera angle makes the 6 ft OA seem shorter πŸ˜›

          • shorter and bustier? *looks at the OA’s ches with great concern*

            LMAO. oh come on. dont blush so easy. you’re making this a piece of cake for me.
            and if i were any fairer… you’d be justified in thinking its me :p

            okay okay, i’ll stop.

  56. Hi MM,

    I also very much believe in celebrating birthyday parites at home with your loved ones. Do not believe in all the fancy marketing gimmick.

  57. Pingback: N’s third birthday party coming up soon « Kopili’s Weblog

  58. In the end, it is all about perspective. Someone else could turn around and say: Oh, I don’t approve of parties at home where one is always scared that children could throw a ball at the plasma tv or break the expensive artifacts. Also, few homes can offer space for children at home. They could say, what’s so special about sandwiches, popcorn and samosas, stuff they anyway have on most weekends. Birthdays are meant to be celebratory and each one suhd celebrate the way they want without being defensive abut their style or offensive of those who party at the malls. There could be several ‘middeclass’ parents who want to celebrate that one day in an expensive mall and the rest of the days at the neibourhood chatwala. Anyway, to blog some 2000 words abt where one shud celebrate is a waste of time. Ppl reading is another waste and yes, I am wasting time responding to it. Out n over

    • When you comment on a blog, ANY blog, there is always a context. In this case – this is a post that I am hoping my children will read someday and if they have any questions as to their upbringing, and why I made the choices that I did – this will give them the answers. Whether they agree or not, is up to them.

      I DO disapprove of the waste of money for a child who couldnt care less and that being my opinion, it has every right to find a place on my personal blog. Blogs posts are opinion pieces – on movies, dowry deaths or wasteful expenditure. They are all valid as opinions go and equally valid is someone writing a piece on how they dislike home birthday parties and dry sandwiches.

      What I think everyone will agree on, is that you can agree or disagree with an opinion but it really is rather cheeky to tell an author WHAT they should be writing about or HOW they should feel. THAT is definitely a waste of time but fortunately I think you made that discovery yourself.

      As for breaking plasma TVs and artefacts – any parent who leaves expensive artefacts out during a birthday party, deserves to have them broken. As for space – are you saying poorer people in small homes never celebrate? Or shouldnt take pride in calling people home, no matter how small or uncomfortable the home is? That just reeks of insecurity. There are people with homes 5 times the size of mine, but I still take as much pride in inviting guests home.

      and NOW, we’re truly over and out. good day.

      • MM,

        why do you even bother to reply to such comments. Why don’t you just delete them? Clueless people . ‘Get the f*** out of here if you don’t like it’ is what you should say.

        • πŸ™‚ well a lot of blogs do that to look well-loved. i dont. for every troll i have, there are 10 people as nice as you and i dont mind admitting to that. thanks for caring enough

  59. Hey, the party was a blast, and I totally agree with you on hosting parties at home. And the books – that’s usually what we give as birthday presents and return gifts

  60. Pingback: Party peeves « Things do not change…until we change!

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