Birthdays without Pressure

I was delighted to see some press this morning about a new movement, Birthdays without Pressure. I thought I was merely being curmudgeonly when I tried to singlehandedly buck the party-favor-bag trend. One year, I handed out plastic rats to Lily’s guests. This year, we scheduled her birthday party—only three days ahead of time—as a small playdate and billed it as “no gifts, no favors.” Everyone still brought a gift.

Our goddaughter has just turned seven, and her party this weekend was just right. A quick bite of pizza, a decent cake, and we were all unleashed into the wilds of the local skating rink, where we were left to our own disorganized devices. In our case, it meant propping up the girls for a 3/4 loop of the rink, from one door to the other, with them in tears for most of the circuit.

The single best kid’s birthday party I’ve attended as an adult was a book exchange. Everyone brought a wrapped book, the books were redistributed, and everyone left with a new book. There was some trading to prevent overlap, but it went off smoothly, without the concomitant cheap bubble solution, unsanitary bendy straw, stickers, pencil, and candy. (The second best had those things, but it also had champagne cocktails for the grown-ups and homemade pizza for everyone.)