Birthday Party to Include Girls and Boys

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.)

Super cute books for ocean-loving kids.

Super cute books for ocean-loving kids.

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!

Amelia's cake topper, perhaps the only gendered item that will be at the party.

Amelia’s cake topper, perhaps the only gendered item that will be at the party.

Easy peasy craft project on hand for kids who don't want to swim for three solid hours.

Easy peasy craft project on hand for kids who don’t want to swim for three solid hours.

Colors are for everyone, especially merkids!

Colors are for everyone, especially merkids!











Want some awesome Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies party invites? Go here.

Want to find that mermaid cake topper above? Visit Etsy here.

The Tooth Fairy is Friends with Mermaid Barbies

We’ve had a go of it at our house lately. Taking our stalker to court after a year of being scared and harassed, wasp stings, and this week: Oral Surgery. It was a rotten way to spend a week in the summer and I decided to go a little overboard. I guess I just wanted to make everything right again in her little six year old world. The Original Pigtail Pal’s deep love of the ocean has naturally expanded into mermaids, and she has been saving up her Chore Chart money for this one below.

With OPP having four teeth pulled on Tuesday morning, puking blood and feeling generally miserable for a day, the Tooth Fairy knew she would have to bring her A-game for this one. The Tooth Fairy looked high and low for waterproof mermaid toys OPP could take in the tub and pool, ultimately Barbie seemed like the best (only) choice. OPP was so happy when she opened it, and has brought up several interesting body image talks while playing with her, showing me she is getting the message as best a 6yo can. And, the Tooth Fairy felt the Barbie mermaids were pretty awesome as far as mermaids go and they didn’t make her head explode. I, uh, I mean the Tooth Fairy, thought the Barbie Mermaid line was pretty wholesome and wasn’t sexualized (other Barbies take that prize). There was some unpacking to do for body image and Beauty Myth, but every once in a while it is good for the Tooth Fairy to get off her soap box.

Yes, I really do put this much thought into buying a Barbie. If Merida came in a wet suit I’d be walking on Easy Street.

The toothless OPP with her Barbie Mermaid from the Tooth Fairy.


Since OPP is reading everything in sight, I intentionally left this link displayed on my laptop this morning while I stepped away from my desk to do some chores. I saw her reading the article a few moments later, but waited for her to bring up the issue. I just wanted to get her wheels turning.

The Beauty Myth of Barbie.

OPP came into the kitchen after awhile and said, “So the dotted black lines is where the surgeons would cut ya?”  I answered yes, that is how a woman would have to be surgically altered and cut apart to look like Barbie. OPP then asked if I liked Barbie, to which I answered that I had liked them very much when I was her age, but as a mom I was concerned about some of the body image messages the dolls gave. I said all Barbies have the same body and their faces look the same, and that I felt that left out all of the other ways a woman can be beautiful. I said people with rounder bodies or shorter bodies or wider noses or slanted eyes are all beautiful too, and you don’t see that with Barbie. OPP then said she liked the woman in the photo below because it looked like me. I agreed, my body actually looks identical to the woman above, but that I would never cut myself to try to be beautiful, or to look like someone else.

She answered with this, “Well, I know Barbie is a grown up because she wears lots of makeup. And I’m not to worried about being skinny, because who cares a flip about that? But I really wish I had blue hair and a glittery tail.”

How can you argue with that? I told her blue hair and a glittery tail would be awesome indeed. I’m glad I could meet Amelia halfway on this one, because I have had to say no to several of the toys she has shown an interest in as of late.

And I am secretly relieved that not once in the past two days has OPP said anything about not being pretty or embarrassed because of her new (temporary) toothless smile. In fact, today I was taking a photo of her and her little brother eating strawberry shortcake and OPP said, “Make sure you get in my one good tooth!”

I don’t know if this body confidence in her will always be there, but I pray it will. I pray hard for that.