I went to many birthday parties when I was a child. They were all held in the birthday child’s home, and they all followed the same format. The party started out with games, followed by the birthday girl(I only went to girls’ parties) opening her presents, followed by ice cream and cake. The cake always had the number of candles to represent the birthday and was brought lit to the table for the girl to make a wish and blow out the candles. No one hired clowns or magicians. No one had her party at another location such as a pizza parlor(there weren’t any) or an arcade(there weren’t any). Parties were, therefore, pretty affordable and noncompetitive.
Every party had a variety of pin the tail on the donkey, sometimes nose on the clown, sometimes bow on the hair. Each child was blindfolded, turned around three times, handed a tail(or a nose or a bow) and directed to stick in on the donkey(or clown or hair.) The child who taped it closest to its appropriate place won a small prize. Much merriment surrounded the dizzy child failing to even attach the tail anywhere near the target. Usually there were two other games of the mother’s choosing. Each game had one prize, so three children left the party with a prize.
Contemporary children’s birthday parties are big business. Our local grocery store features a free booklet with party locations, party entertainment and party food. Each child is supposed to leave the party with a “goody bag,” ensuring, I guess, that no child feels slighted. On the other hand, no child gets to win one of three prizes, something I always tried to do.
Fortunately, my daughter has held old fashioned birthday parties in the back yard with games such as running around and blowing bubbles. At one birthday party ten various aged kids spent their time digging a giant hole and leaping over and into it. Once again, it proves that kids make their own entertainment when given the chance. They still devour cake and ice cream! Some things never change.