Tonight We're Going to Party Like it’s 1999 Only I Have Kids Now and My 401(k) Was Destroyed
There are plenty of scary things about parenting in New York: Playground germs, the price of preschool, navigating c-store aisles with a double stroller. But the thing that’s caused more anxiety in me has been the prospect of throwing a children’s birthday party.
These days, it’s impossible to keep up with even the other keeper-uppers, or those keeping up with the keeper-uppers, let alone the Joneses themselves. We’ve all heard the stories. And they’re insane. I can just imagine some of these parents having to say to their children one day, Sorry honey, we can't afford college for you, but you did have Jean-Georges make your birthday cake when you were two. It was chocolate-raspberry! Remember? Remember?
Thalia’s about to turn two on Friday so I still have some time before the parties get out of control. (Also until she has more than one friend to invite.) But when that time comes, I can't compete with the $50,000 princess/ superhero/ Daddy-made-millions-on-hedge-funds parties. I don't want to compete. Did I mention I can't compete?
I figure if you can’t outspend, outwit. So I jotted down a few local but affordable party ideas for the future that I'm tossing around instead:
Sleepover at the Mayor's Office
Who needs to sleep over at the Bronx Zoo or the Museum of Natural History when one of the great city landmarks is just over the bridge from us? The highlight of the evening is gathering the kids around a single flashlight at midnight and telling scary stories of budget cuts, transit fare hikes, and the D'Amato years.
Our friends in Chelsea with a coveted fire escape off the living room (i.e. "outdoor space") will lend us the place for the afternoon. Nate can set up a mini hibachi grill out there, churning out about six hot dogs an hour. The kids will take turns playing in the great outdoors, one at a time. Fresh air!
Sidewalk Petting Zoo
Without spending one penny or waiting on one line, the kids will have unfettered access to animals from squirrels to pigeons to squirrels.
Dora the Urban Explorer Party
Each kid gets a purple backpack filled with snacks and toy binoculars as we journey to uncharted territory like the Times Square Olive Garden and Staten Island.
We’ll pitch our own tents outside the Public Theater a week before Shakespeare in the Park tickets go on sale. Come on! It will be fun! And mommy wants to see Kevin Kline.
A Day of Crafts
We can set up tables in Dag Hammarskjold plaza by the U.N. and paint colorful signs using pretty Arabic letters. Pay no attention to the photographer in the van with the CIA-issue Ray Bans.
Kids will get first-hand exposure to the color and diversity of New York spending three consecutive hours underground. Refreshments provided by children selling boxes of M-n-M's for their schools. (That’s, “for their schools.”) A continuous stream of musical entertainment provided by That Guy With the Guitar on the 6 train, That Guy With the Steel Drum on the 2 train, and on the A, That Guy Who Sort of Sings But Isn't Entirely Aware That Anyone's Watching Him.
Free Movies in Bryant Park Not on a Monday
Come on everybody, and gather around the iPod!