Disposable Fun: Birthday Party Culture

Does anyone watch the show Parenthood? It follows the lives of four grown siblings and their kids in Berkeley, California. The youngest brother, Crosby, recently found out that he has a five-year-old son. Eager to make up for all those lost years, he volunteers to help the mom throw a big birthday celebration with both of their families.

Jabbar and Crosby in Parenthood

So what do they do? They go to the store, argue about a theme for a few minutes (“We did Sponge Bob last year!”), then proceed to buy stacks of theme-appropriate paper plates and decorations. The weirdest part was, there didn’t appear to be many kids (aside from cousins) at the party. So what was the point of all that disposable party gear—in Berkeley no less, a progressive, eco-friendly community?

Green Birthday Parties for Kids

This year I found myself apathetic about throwing a traditional party for my two year old.  While I could have selected coordinating décor and unique party favors, I was determined to keep it simple.  Am I an unfit mother?  I hope not.  The truth is that throwing a big birthday shindig often ends up being expensive, exhausting and very disposable.  

Luckily I knew my son would be thrilled to run through a park with his friends and receive a few presents. We added blueberry muffins to the mix and he was in utter bliss. 

Plus, I had to wonder, would I be doing all that extra stuff for him and his friends, or for the other adults? Before I got wrapped up in other people’s potential judgments of his very simple celebration, I realized that the people in Roscoe’s life are unpretentious, kind and very connected to him.  They forgave me for my un-Martha Stewart festivities.