There was much fun and frivolity around our house last weekend. The Straight-haired girl had her eleventh birthday party, complete with nine giggly friends. A great time was had by all. But our quest to match our habits with our convictions - among which we list "less junk, less money on things that don't matter in the long run" - is slightly out of kilter with the average birthday party.
We have tried to instill in our family the realization that the time with friends is more important than the material benefits involved in a traditional birthday party, but that's hard to do when the wrapping paper is so pretty and the presents are so shiny and new. So, we tried to have gift-less birthday parties last year. We asked our guests to bring food for the food pantry instead of a gift, and the girls did not complain. But half the joy of a party is "wrapped up" in the presents. And I know, too, that the girls like to give other kids something for their birthday. Who hasn't given a gift, and hoped that it would speak to the recipient and communicate how valued they are as a friend?
So, we tried to strike a balance this year. We told our friends that gifts were optional. Yes, it was a cop out. We let our friends decide for us. Sigh.
Among the Straight-haired girl's new treasures are a toy her friend treasured in the past, a gently used yard-sale find, a highly practical gift (for our family that means new art supplies), a certificate for a fun outing, and a brand new toy. She loves them all.
She wanted her friends to go home with something fun from the party. Since we are trying to avoid junky Dollar Store toys, goodie bags were out. And in the interests of keeping our budget intact, we used supplies that we already had. They made their own fun.
The Straight-haired girl's slight obsession with this book (and its rapidly multiplying cuteness) sparked a desire on her part to make Glurbs for her friends. We also needed party activities to keep nine tweens busy for two hours. She ended up planning the fun, and we decided to combine the two with a sewing lesson.
We pre-cut the bodies, arms and legs. She also decided that she wanted to make the faces ahead of time. All her friends did was sew the body halves together and stuff them. Each Glurb had its own personality, and since we had a surfeit of pink leopard-print knit, that meant they were perfect for an eleventh birthday party.