Sunday, September 13, 2009

Swedish Birthday Party Part 2

So we took off from the house about 10:20 for an 18-minute journey to the party location. As I didn't have an actual house number and it was somewhere outside of town, I wanted to allow for the likelihood we'd get lost.

We got lost, well sorta. Actually it was worse than that.

I followed the directions to this "township" and sure enough, we ended up in the right area. Score 1 for the Canadians! Farmland and lots of houses and little clusters of houses. But which house? Ahhhh...there! As per my previous post, it had to be this house. Balloons. Lots of balloons. Balloons off the main road, balloons marking the driveway and balloons on the front of the house. Well no wonder they didn't give me an address. How could I possibly miss the house? But it was 10:35 and much too early to make an appearance so we circle back around to the gas station to snack on candy until 10:51, when I figured it was safe to head on in and make our appearance.

I park in front of this beautiful old red barn, hop out with the man and the "cheap" gift and we make our way to the door. We're excited...first ever birthday party invite for the little man..woohoo. We ring the bell. Geez, taking awhile for someone to answer. Maybe the kids are already running around screaming. Finally a 13-year old opens the door in her PJs, with a few other kiddies in pyjamas wandering over to take a look at the visitors.

What could be worse than being lost? How about showing up at the wrong house?! "Is this Pontus' house?" "Nej" says the confused teen. Oh God.

I pry my excited toddler off the stranger's balcony trying to explain that Mommy's an idiot when I see a car pull up behind me full of kids. Another family about to make the same mortifying mistake. The little man recognizes his classmate and as she rolls down her window, I proceed to explain we are indeed at the wrong house. She bursts out laughing, "Oh I'm so glad it was you and not me." Thank you very much.

She makes the call to the party house, explaining that we're crashing the wrong party and I set off to follow her to the house I am sure we never would have found alone.

Turns out it's the little man's teacher's son whose turning 4. And we're climbing up slippery rocks into the woods to roast hot dogs in a fire pit. Cute. Did I mention hotdogs are a staple here and that the little guy hates them? Anyway, after some parents come and go and others, like me, elect to stay, we make our way inside.

Beautiful home really.

The kids are playing upstairs. And then it's gift opening time. Thank God, everyone seemed to have spent the same amount on the gifts. My first relief of the day. Then it's ice cream cake. Not just any ice cream cake. This ice cream cake is literally a square box of ice cream flipped upside down and cut into pieces. And then decorated with jam from a tube on the fly.

and that's it. Weiners on sticks and a container of ice cream. We left with a bag containing about 7 candies, "because it's Sunday" said the Mom.

Now I have seen friends with kids throw birthday parties back home. Beautiful handmade cupcakes, ornately decorated homemade cakes, party games, decorations, THEMES, t-shirts that say "Birthday Girl/Boy", loot bags chockfull of loot, jumping castles, hired entertainment, snacks galore, balloons, nice gifts. I wonder how much the average kids party cost these days back home in Canada. But I can guarantee it's a lot more than the $20 this party cost to put on.

Now I'm not saying this is what every birthday party in Sweden is like. I really don't know. And I'm not judging this party. I'm merely pointing out the differences between cultures. Hubby says we come from a culture where it's all about "Keeping up with the Joneses" and here the philosophy is, what does a three-year old remember about a kid's birthday party except that they had a good time playing with their friends? I can't help but agree with him.

However, for the little guy's 4th birthday party, you won't catch me decorating a lump of ice cream with a tube of jam and calling it "ice cream cake". I.Just.Can't.Do.It.

And if I live in the middle of nowhere and on the off chance there are other birthday parties occuring on the same day as my son's, my directions will include landmarks and uniformed officers directing traffic if necessary.


septembermom said...

I couldn't throw together that kind of ice cream cake either. Kids do manage to have fun in any circumstances. They are built to "party". I'm sure your little guy will love his party!

Mon said...

I'm in the camp that prefers not to over-do these things. Well, I am Aussie bred and English influenced. I have seen North American versions become quite ridiculous and overly materialistic. I prefer the day being about kids running amok than who has bought what. Which is why I prefer to open presents later. I feel ill at the thought of embarrassing anyone. Ooh, have you ever seen the Sweet Sixteen show? omfg!

Anyway, however, it's the day my kid was born and something special ought to mark it. I cooked all the nibbles for the Wildflower's party myself. The cake was big and pretty (bought). A few balloons...

But that was it. The rest was kids just being kids and everyone chilled out and enjoying good food and company.

Pressies - here people tend to keep them inexpensive - thank god as of course there are so many children one gets to know. My only request was for wooden toys, which I completely forgot to mention but they knew me well enough! Which was really nice.
No party/loot bags, but everyone was sent home with a big piece of cake and whatever was their favourite nibble.

But, a block of ice-cream with jam??? lmao
And yeah, what's with no specific directions to the house? Weird.

SwedishJenn said...

Thanks for the reply Mon. Getting kinda lonely here..ha! I was actually going to mention that Sweet 16 show..disgusting. But yes, I come from a culture of excess (not to that extent of course). I think you threw the perfect party for your little one. What this "experience" has taught me is that there needs to be a happy medium, one where you don't break the bank but are also a gracious host. I was actually surprised by the gift opening session at this party. although this is what I'm used to, I have experienced gift opening as soon as we enter the door, both here and in Monty. You walk in the door, the child greets you and opens your gift immediately. Not sure how I feel about that either.