Background: Since friend parties haven't necessarily been my cup of tea, I've told my kids that they can have a party if they plan and help carry-out the activities. They can hire me as the chef, baker and main supporter.
Well, Benji made it through most of the planning stage, but forgot the most important part--inviting the guests. Tuesday I asked if he had it all done and he said no. "Well, if no one's been invited then I guess we won't be able to do it," I replied. He was crushed. Darn those natural consequences!
Natural or not, being the mom, I felt like maybe I'd been too hard on him and decided to make it up to him by throwing a surprise birthday party. I set the date, called all the moms, and everyone came and helped make it a fun time. I'm pretty sure Benji was surprised though his expression didn't reveal much.
We also tried a new thing (did this for Ally's birthday last year too) for gift giving. Instead of everyone bringing a gift for Benji, I asked everyone to bring a gift valued $5.00 or less. It could be something gently used or new. Then at the party each kid chooses a gift out of the middle, and everyone opens their gifts at the same time. They are then given one chance to trade it for something else. (I start the exchange with the person sitting next to the birthday person, so that the birthday person is the last one given the chance to trade.) It works great! The birthday person doesn't end up with more stuff (he/she doesn't usually need) and everyone goes home with a "party favor". At Benji's party someone liked what they brought the best so that's what they went home with. (There are no rules about going home with your own gift.)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BENJI!