I’m planning my daughter’s eighth birthday party for mid-January (how did eight years go by so quickly!?) and as I was working out the logistics for the invitations I realized that I was going to have to change some of my language. You see, my daughter has a great group of friends that include boys and girls, so her invite list is close to a 50/50 split. Amelia loves all things ocean and swimming related, so we’re having a pool party at a local hotel. The bash is going to be mermaid themed.
But the word “mermaid” excludes boys, and as y’all know I’m all about gender inclusiveness. My daughter is obsessed with mermaids, so I want to honor her interests, but I also want all of her guests to feel included in the party and its theme. Merpeople, I suppose? Amelia’s favorite color is blue so I thought about heading the invite to say something like, “Come take a swim in the big blue, Amelia would love to party with you!” (I don’t know why I have the overwhelming need to rhyme on party invites, but I do.)
Last night we were reading a book at bedtime from the series “Mermaid Tales” by Debbie Dadey. These great books feature a group of third grade kids, girls and a boy, who have some fun adventures under the sea. They are called merkids in the books, and that was the word I was looking for to make Amelia’s party invites gender inclusive.
Some brightly colored plates, table cloth, and sand buckets to serve food from so that the food table looks like a coral reef will do nicely. Add in some brightly colored balloons, a little language change on the invites so that all her merkid friends feel included at her party, and some games for the pool and we’ve got a fun party for boys and girls to attend.
The change is that simple to make. It is that easy to accommodate boy-girl friendships, especially when you don’t base a party on a commercialized character but rather a popular theme for childhood. Animals, jungle, safari, ocean, bugs, dinosaurs, space, farm, spies, caped crusaders, enchanted garden, sports, castle themed…..All kids love this stuff, you just have to get away from the branded characters. We’ve had birthday parties at a veterinary office before, and last year an exterminator was the entertainment at my son’s co-ed party. Get creative!
The invites and goody bags will be homemade so that we can avoid the gender stereotypes seen on so many store-bought kids’ invites and party supplies. I’ll make the cake, the snacks are easy, do our own decorations, and the teams for the games we’ll divide by the side of the alphabet the kids’ first names fall in (as opposed to boys vs girls).
Chances my cake and decorations will look like the idea board I’ve put together on Pinterest? 3 out of 10.
Chances my daughter and her friends are going to have a blast at this party? 9 out of 10.
Chances all the kids that day will get the message that boys and girls are important friends for each other and should be sharing spaces and memories together in childhood? 10 OUT OF 10!!
Wish me luck on that cake!
Want some awesome Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies party invites? Go here.
Want to find that mermaid cake topper above? Visit Etsy here.