Taking time to enjoy your kids is one of the greatest gifts of all.
I’ve only held one “real” birthday party, the obligatory first, for my son. This is in part due to his personality. While his big sister is a social butterfly, my 5-year-old, Gabe, is more of an observer. He has just a few friends, and he holds them dear, but he doesn’t need to party with them. He’s pretty low-key. The other reason is that, frankly, by the time my second child came around, my enthusiasm for the Pinterest perfect party had waned. I’m twice as busy (all right, three times) and have half the energy. Gabe’s older sister has special needs, and, too often, I find myself focused on her emotional state. It’s not that he’s neglected, not by a long shot, but sometimes I miss the details.
When his first birthday at a “big boy” school came around, I knew it had to change. He’s the oldest in his class, and his birthday falls within the first six weeks of school. Logically, his birthday was a great opportunity for all of the classmates, and their families, to get to know each other. So I strapped on my “Let’s have a party!” attitude and sat down with my son to look at our options.
Party Planning Made Easy
Within minutes either he, or I, had eliminated the “normal” party places. Bouncing? No thanks. Laser tag? Fun, but we have 20 kids — plus families — and the cost was prohibitive. House party? Not for this Mamma! I needed something spacious, with lots of room to run, that wouldn’t break my budget or require a lot of cleaning. After days of searching, we finally found a place that was perfect, and a little unique: a swamp themed birthday party.
The folks at Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours were happy to help us set it up. For just a few hundred dollars we secured a private boat tour and a gazebo for a few hours. It was perfect. As our guests arrived, we had lunch ready. Since we were at an outdoor venue, I stuck to finger foods and pizza. It was easy to fill up a cooler of drinks for all and, for the adults that wanted to partake, a batch of swamp juice (aka margaritas) and local beers. We placed the swamp tour at the end of the party so anyone running late wouldn’t miss it. While guests waited for the tour to start, they enjoyed with the attractions on the grounds. From live alligators to pigs and chickens, the kids had a blast. There were plenty of opportunities to interact and take pictures. Then it was time for the tour.
A Swamp-Themed Surprise
I may not love throwing parties, but, when I do it, I do it right. To keep the kids interested and to fight fatigue, I brought plenty of nuts, chips and protein bars on board the boat. With such simple foods, I decided to go all out with dessert. So when we reached a stopping point, to my sweet boy’s surprise, we sang Happy Birthday, while the gators circled. My swamp-themed cupcakes, Ooey Gooey Gator and Mississippi Mud (complete with gummy worms), were a huge hit and a ton of fun.
At the end of the tour, we watched with satisfaction as Gabe’s new friends climbed into their car seats, clutching goody bags filled with gummy worms and toy bugs. Gabe even managed to stay awake just long enough to wave goodbye. The party was a great ice-breaker for the school mates and their families, as we had hoped. Most importantly, my quiet little boy got a chance to cut loose and be the center of attention. He was happy. As for me, I was reminded that I can give my second child, the one who doesn’t ask for much, a great experience — no matter what.