A Good Party

The dolls' party

The dolls’ party

For my daughter’s 8th birthday we created invitations out of popsicle sticks to look like a log cabin. We curled orange peels in to flowers and made a cake with rosewater icing, just like in the Little House books. For her 9th birthday we created two invitations, one for the guest, and one for each guest’s doll. We made a separate table at which the dolls sat and were served tiny cupcakes. For her 10th birthday she again made an invitation, this time for a science-themed slumber party. We planned three science experiments and a movie.

Then last year at 11, she said, “Mom, could you just make an evite?” She settled on an “International” theme, since it would allow her to serve all her favorite foods (including Doritos), but resisted any attempt to plan activities. “We just want to talk.” I finally forced a few “international” games on her. I still got to create a centerpiece. The end of the party became a little chaotic as the girls finished their games and were not quite capable of finding something else to do.

This year at 12, she again requested an evite and limited planned activities. She barely indulged me in a “beach” theme and tablescape, because it involved confetti. But this year the girls entertained themselves. This year they really didn’t need the planned activities, they created their own. Eight girls stayed in our house from 6:00 pm to 10:00 am and entertained themselves.

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I loved the years of creating invitations, tablescapes, and planned activities. I don’t have a lot of domestic or artistic skills, but one thing I know how to do is throw a party. The parties my daughter and I planned weren’t competitive and Pinterest fueled, they were a project we did together. As we made invitations and plans I implicitly and explicitly talked to her about why I loved parties, why I thought you should put care in to how you create a party. Parties are a way to show love.

But now she is 12.  I don’t know what the parties of the future will hold. It’s doubtful I’ll be allowed to create an invitation or tablescape any time soon. Will I even be allowed in the basement at her next party? Will there be boys? How long before birthday parties themselves become too childish? How many years before her birthday is celebrated in a different town from me?

I have told my daughter that creating a party is a loving act. All I can hope is that as in all things, love is what lasts.

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