I've thrown some pretty awesome birthday parties in my day. The most over-the-top one was for my oldest son when he was six. The theme was "Spy Academy." I spent two months, yes, TWO months working on it. The kids came in and were promptly photographed and fingerprinted. Spy Academy ID cards were quickly printed out and laminated.
The first course in the academy was disguises. They were led to four huge trunks packed with costumes and accessories. After they were properly disguised, they separated into two teams and went through the woods using GPS handhelds (with the help of two spy instructors), looking for way points where they were given scrambled "clues" to find the location of the stolen birthday cake. After the completion of that "course" they came in and created a custom spy gadget. Each spy kid got a small cereal box covered in foil and got to choose from a slew of craft supplies to "decorate" their gadget. Then there was a showing of the spy kids movie followed by a huge sleepover. The party favors? Each kid went home with a plastic spy briefcase with their spy academy certificate, spy i.d., handcuffs, spy sunglasses, and a bunch of other spy-related stuff. The invitation? A cassette tape with the party info on it that would "self destruct" in ten seconds, delivered in a confidential envelope.
It was creative and fun, yet very exhausting. I started to think, "Do my kids even enjoy these crazy themed parties"? Can we tone the parties down a bit and still make it a fun experience for everyone? And who invented the idea of these outlandish party favor bags, anyway? I certainly don't remember getting them as a kid.
Luckily, as my kids have gotten older, we've gotten away from the uber-theme parties and have had good old-fashioned soccer games in the park or sleepovers with just a few friends in the back yard.
At least I thought that was the trend.
Until my seven-year-old wanted to have a "Indiana Jones party with an obstacle course in the back yard where we could launch a giant ball at the guests as they leap off the hay bales....and can we do a treasure hunt in the woods with GPS devices like Tommy did when he was seven? Oh, and Mom, let's put fake snakes in the party favor bags, with gold coins, an Indy hat, a whip.....OOOOOH! Let's put the Indiana Jones DVD set in each party bag! And we can dig holes in the back yard and bury crystal skulls! And we can fill the front yard with sand with a sign that says "Dig Site" and hide skeleton bones in it! And we can decorate the inside of the house with spider webs and snakes to make it look like a cave and hide the holy grail in it! And so on.
Calgon, take me away........
Note to husband: for my 50th birthday, I want Cirque du Soleil to come to our house and put on a custom "clown school" for all 500 party guests. Or we could just make a batch of chili and watch "E.T." with the boys. I think I'll go with the latter.