The Brazilian Birthday Party: Year Two

I’ve finally gathered the strength to write about this year’s Brazilian Birthday (insert big dramatic sigh).

Yes. I did it again. Although last year I swore I wouldn’t, we put on another Brazilian birthday party for my daughter’s 4th.

I thought it went well, thanks to my Brazilian sister-in-law and birthday party expert who now has decided to channel her talents into a birthday party production company (Boutique Festas). The details were really incredible.

Aside from the oddities experienced last year (see Barbies and Brigadeiros), there were some new or unaddressed issues that I would like to discuss this year.

First, no one RSVP’s to these parties. Despite my two requests for RSVPs, the only ones that did were the foreigners. Ok, a few Brazilians who had lived abroad did let me know they were coming, but it was only a few. Because of this there were a LOT OF KIDS. I don’t even know how many. Ya see, we not only invited kids that Sophia knew from her current and previous schools, but also the kids in her cousin’s class(es). On top of that, kids not only come with their brothers and sisters, but cousins and babas (nannies) to boot. So at some point we ran out of cups and I ran out of giveaway bags at the end… resulting in one small boy not getting a gift. Horrors. I promptly delivered a newly constructed one the next day, but it’s not the same. (My daughter would have been devastated had this happened to her). Also, when you don’t know how many are coming, there is no strategy for crowd control. Which leads to the second bizarre occurrence.

The entire place was scavenged by the time the event was over. We had decorations both inside and out which included lanterns in the trees, signs and blow up flamingoes. All gone. The place was stripped. My sister-in-law caught some kid and her baba trying to pull down a caterpillar made of paper lanterns IN the room as well.

But the most disturbing activity of all was that performed by my daughter. She approached each guest as they arrived and promptly demanded the whereabouts of her gift. This was a little bit cute maybe the first time. One little friend responded to my daughter’s inquiry with the following classic, “But I AM your gift.”

It got worse when we got home. Of course, a lot of guests equals a lot of gifts. My daughter blew through the unwrapping like a foreman at a peanut shelling factory.

This child received more gifts than I probably received in my entire childhood. Let’s be honest, she received more gifts that any child should in one sitting. I didn’t like it. For a reason I can’t quite put into words, seeing her sitting amongst piles of overpriced toys didn’t feel right. Didn’t feel good.

Don’t get me wrong, she received some really lovely things for which I am very grateful (many of which were not tax and duties laden barbies, but things really thought out). However, I didn’t really think through how this kind of experience might impact the a child’s young, impressionable mind. I’ll have crushing of expectations to do, especially now that we are approaching Christmas.

I also didn’t expect how tired I would be throughout the whole thing. Luckily, we had this sign on display to remind me…

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14 Responses to The Brazilian Birthday Party: Year Two

  1. Anna says:

    my best memory from my childhood was my birthday parties every year! It was always amazing.

    very similar to what you described here….lots of children , lots of food , many types of recreation / entertainment , loud music , long hours and many birthday presents too – I remember once I received 127 gifts – I couldn’t even sleep I wanted to play with all of them at once !!

    about RSVP. Usually for a wedding they say you should calculate about 70% – 85% of the guests invited will show up (specially if you have many from other cities and states)….for kids birthday parties the number is higher.

    • My hopes that Sophia will have fond memories of her childhood in Brazil is definitely the driving force behind these parties. I’m glad you did, I hope she will too.

      I did that calculation that you mentioned, but I didn’t anticipated the siblings and cousins. Thanks!

  2. Alex says:

    Wow. Those pictures tell the whole story!

    I wish I had a birthday party like that!!!!!!


  3. Yowza! What a birthday! I think I would have loved all that as a kid, too.

    I also really hear you on the amount of gifts. When I was a nanny, it was seen as very middle class or lower class- even gauche- to bring gifts to a child’s birthday. I had never heard anyone say ‘my kids have enough’ and it really made an impression on me. And the thign is, they didn’t have THAT much stuff.

    • I actually considered to ask people not to bring gifts. But, I didn’t want to be that weird American mother. Although, one Brazilian mother last year asked that people don’t bring gifts, but instead bring a can of milk for orphans (I think, I can’t remember). That might be my strategy the next time. (Next time?! What?!)

  4. Corinne says:

    I have had the same experience of people not RSVPing, although this year for my son’s bithday party a lot of people did. You just need to make a rough estimate. My son also insisted on opening all the presents on the spot, and you are right, so many presents!! It was a bit of overkill. Your decorations are lovely!

    • Thank you! It’s weird, right? In the U.S., you opened all the gifts at the party in front of the guests. Here you don’t. (But in the U.S. you also write thank you cards, here you don’t.) Not sure which I prefer.

  5. Meredith says:

    I love Alice in Wonderland! Good job on the theme, mom. I wish I had been invited :).

    • You are totally invited!! Brasilia is a long way off, but if you want to bring the baby next year – awesome!! (if I am crazy enough to do this production again…)
      FYI – when you are ready, I’m here with Brazilian Birthday party advice.

  6. Pingback: A Brazilian Birthday Party: Year Two, Part Two | born again brazilian

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  8. Pingback: Day 192: Birthday Party Planning | born again brazilian

  9. Marina says:

    I love your insight on the extravagant number of gifts – I looooved the painstaking birthdays thrown for me as a kid, being surrounded by obscene amounts of family, friends, friend’s families, and a camera always in my face to record every moment as I was reminded that I was the star of the day, and then later my parents filming and photographing me as I opened up Barbie after Barbie in the privacy of my own room and screamed in glee. Years later after a hefty dose of American education and living, going back to Brazil and seeing my small cousins sitting on piles of gifts and their mothers (‘aunts’ once, twice, three times removed..but aunts nonetheless) renting out trampolines and ponies that their birthday children are still too small to enjoy makes me a bit sick. Sigh.

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