After the chaos of the Holidays — the flu, an infected tooth, way too many gifts and an empty wallet — we decided to raise the stress-o-meter by throwing a kid’s birthday party in Downtown!
My daughter turned four and since she has been asking for a party since the day after she turned three, I caved in. In my defense, before you start labeling me a pushover I should note that she is well behaved, likes school and does her chores.
The first obstacle was trying not go overboard: on the guest list, the food, the presents, and goodie bags.
It doesn’t help that I have seven aunts and uncles, each of which averages 3-5 kids. That made my guest list about 60.
Then I decided to cook the food myself, all vegetarian. At this point I felt I had already broken the barrier of comfortable hostess to overdrive maniac so I figured, how much harder is cooking?
It turned out well. We ate Mexican tostadas with fried pinto beans, soy meat, cheese, garnished with cabbage, bell peppers, sour cream, salsa, tomatoes and onions. Hmmm… I’m craving it now. I made pizza, guacamole, and salsa and chips for appetizers, and bought (thank you Flan-King) flan from the Farmer’s Market for dessert. I am happy to report that my family (Mexican) did not realize it wasn’t “real” meat. They were also very flexible when it came to driving and parking instructions (the lot at 8th/Grand).
Even though it was stressful to organize the party so close after the New Year, it was great to buy everything local. I went to the Piñata District where I found all the Princess paraphernalia any four year old would dream of. At Escamex, a party supply store, I bought everything I needed for the tableware and goodie bags.
My next stop was the Toy District. I found Princess notebooks, stamps, tiaras, wands, glasses — everything that meant I was going overboard. My daughter scored a nice present from me thanks to the vendors at this hidden gem in Downtown. Where else can you get books, a playhouse, a toy stroller, puzzles, a book bag, goodie bag fillers, and a school activity set for under $100?
Dear Ralphs, where would I be without you? You might make me pinch my wallet but when you have a sale, the clasp comes undone and out pours the green. The tomatoes, avocados, and ice cream were on sale the days before the party, score! That subdued the pain I felt when I saw the prices for soy meat.
Thanks to the farmers market, I found good deals on fresh produce and Flan-King had a discount on their flans that week. I was feeling lucky.
The party turned out great: it was 75 degrees in the middle of winter, the kids loved their treats, swimming, the improvised puppet show, the tiaras and wands and the food was devoured! It was convenient to have the party at the Club Room in our building, which eliminated any concern for space. It was easy to set-up, have fun and clean up. A success I would say, but not a feat I look forward to repeating anytime soon.
Next year, she’s getting a library card, the gift that keeps on giving.
Published January 23, 2009