Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 2, Issue 48, Tuesday, June 8, 2005



I love my Birthdays

Dearest diary,
I love birthdays. I love my birthdays, I love birthdays of my family and friends. Basically,I love everything which falls under the birthday package. If given a choice, I still would have a full, special themed birthday party for my eighteen year old son. Because I fear his malevolent stare, I have stopped badgering him to let me arrange his parties. The only thing he lets me do since his 14th birthday is bake his cake, buy the pizzas, chill the cokes & disappear. And me, born with this punctilious nature, can't deal with this shunning out bit. All those ideas clamouring inside my head is plain driving me nuts. Even if my niece was here, between my sister and me, we would throw these Barbie, snow white and costume parties. But now that they are not here anymore, even that is gone from my life. I have some very innovative friends, and they have little girls, so they throw these wonderfully innovative parties, which even adults like us look forward to.

Once, my friend Archana threw this pool party which simply took my breath away. She had these six or seven brightly painted, printed plastic swimming pools, scattered all over her lawn, obviously filled with water. So when the time came, all these little tots in their bikinis, arm bands, goggles and tubes arrived; it was a sight for sore eyes. With their little round tummies, fat little thighs, Johnson baby oiled bottoms and sunglasses perched on their noses and foreheads, it was worth the wait.

Then there is Tupli. Mistress of innovation and talent. She starts planning her daughters' parties at least a month before, or maybe even a year before. Because on her trips abroad she plans the theme and shops from the napkins, to the table cloths, forks and spoons, the birthday dress, return gifts & any other imaginable luxury item she can think of; she bakes too. So, for the latest Tinkerbell party she threw, it was like a scene from a Disney animated movie. And believe you me, somehow, she even managed her daughter to look like Tinkerbell with wings and all. And all throughout the party I kept on thinking I'll suddenly see Peter Pan somewhere and she will fly off with him to Neverland. It was that realistic. And then off course there is another friend of mine, Raj, who also throws birthday parties with great panache.

She once had a party which had the feel of a carnival. She had a mini wonderland made for the children to jump & and exert their unaccountable energies, games for the children a piñata, popcorn, great party food, and brightly wrapped return gifts et all. But the best part was, the parents also had a blast participating in the games. She specially made jute bags for the potato sack race for the adults in which all the parents participated with great gusto and verve.

The adult "enthu" was also a thing to see and enjoy. You know the saying -- there will always be a child inside you. It was so very obvious that day at Renaya's birthday party.

And lest I forget, the lavish and grandeur of Sadia's daughter's birthday parties. Her spread is quite unimaginable. Her spicy nachos are to die for -- honey wings, home made pizzas, lasagna and the B-B-Q sausages are simply earth shattering.

But the children seem quite content with the candy floss, pop corn and the "chotpoti" guy.

And the "nagordola" is a welcome distraction.
So the adults dig in like there is no tomorrow. But a common occurrence in her parties are, every year she forgets to serve at least one item. I have figured out why. She makes so many items, one eventually gets looked over. But this year I will make it a point to remind her. Know why? Because of my own egregiously selfish reasons. I refuse to have jello at the end of my grand eatathon.

So what does one do for the perfect birthday party?
Plan, of course , in an organized, calm manner.
1) A budget of course is the first most vital aspect. So decide an amount you are comfortable with, knowing that it might exceed a little. One shouldn't be rigid. By exceeding I mean 5-10 percent more than the original amount.

2) You might want to plan a theme. A Cinderella, Snow White, Nemo, Power-Puff girls, Barbie, etc. are all great themes for girls. And Batman, Superman, Mickey Mouse, Ninja-Turtles, Winnie the Pooh for the boys. Or maybe just a plain costume party might do.

3) If you do choose a theme, there are party shops in the city now where you can buy birthday cards according to the theme. You can also buy plates, napkins, paper hats, candles, table cloths, balloons, etc. matching the theme.

4) Make a guest list. If it is a mommy and child party, count some more people in, because most moms bring in the child's nanny. Send off the invites at least a week in advance and mention if you want the child dressed accordingly.

5) Now that you know how many people you are expecting, plan the weight of the cake. If you decided a Barbie theme, a Barbie doll cake can be made, and the weight of the cake can be decided by calculating 10 people to 1 pound. So that's pretty easy. Basically I don't like cakes to be in shapes, because cake is wasted by all that shaping and scraping. If you order a ten pound Winnie the pooh cake shaped like a bear, in reality, you will be getting a seven pounder. Personally meet the person who will bake your child's cake and work out the nitty gritty details, like colours combo, decoration preference, and writing on the cake.

6) Arrange at least three games. Buy and pack the prizes for the games before hand. Make sure the prizes are all unisex.

7) Keep all the paraphernalia required for the games ready. For example, if pillow passing is on the agenda, keep a cushion, a CD player, and CD's ready. If musical chairs are next in line, keep the appropriate and exact number amount of chairs ready. Keep extra batteries for the CD or tape player in case of emergencies.

8) Count the exact number amount of children coming to the party. Count how many of them are girls and how many of them are boys. Best would be unisex toys, or stationery could be given, but if you want to make your life a bit more difficult, buy stuff like clips, kiddie jewellery and make-up for the girls, and t-shirts, cars, stationery, tiffin boxes for the boys. Make sure every child gets one as it is actually the highlight of the party for them. A going home gift is the grand finale in the closure of a great day. Back in the days when we were growing up, the highlight of the party for my sister was eating the greasy red rose or the stale hard pink roses from the top of the Purbani cake. I can still see my mom jostling the other moms to get that red rose for my sister. And there I would be cringing with embarrassment and giving that haughtier than thou look, as if red roses meant nothing to me. But actually in reality, I would secretly wish that my mom would also get me one. But I guess my frosty face put her off. I guess as Sadia would say, "Mufatlal", you got what you deserved.”

9) Now the menu. I always prefer finger food for the children. Home baked smiley cookies, colourful cupcakes, fried chicken, mini burgers, chicken wings, bite sized sandwiches, pizza slices, chips, sausages, a cucumber crocodile with candy stuck on it with toothpicks, are a good bet. And of course a slice of cake is literally the icing on top of their messy menu. For the adults, noodles, proper sandwiches, parathas, with dry kababs should suffice.

10) Entertainment by a magician, face painting and clowns can also be a welcome addition.

11) Finally the cake cutting. Candles, matches, the knife and cake server should all be ready. Delegate this to a particular person who should be in charge of this momentous moment. Because by this time the child, if under four, will be all irritable, scratchy and on the verge of a solid tantrum.

12) So after the cake is cut, quickly usher the guests to eat the food because, now the mom is in the threshold of a nervous breakdown. Close friends should be nearby to defuse (if needed) the volatile situation.

Phew! So, finally its over. By now if the child is over 6, he/she will want to open the presents and you will be like in your most controlled sweet voice, "beta let all the guests leave, then we will do it." Meaning…let me see who gave what and what to recycle.

This part is also very trying. To avoid this as soon as the presents are given to the child, whisk it away to a remote area of your house till you can relax in your kaftan, and decide which toy they can play with now, which toy he can play with 6 months later, and which toy you want to re-cycle.

So, there you are, my way of trial and error based birthday party handling.

Have a good day the Sam Q. way




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