The Starter Mom: The holiday party pooper

by Nicole Loughan

Holiday party season at school has begun and with it the annual Pinterest hunt to make the cleverest apple slices ever known to man. At my two class holiday parties for Halloween I signed up for apple slices. I did this mainly because during the week prior I had purchased a giant bag of apples on a hayride and wanted to use them all up before they went bad. I also purchased a nifty apple slicer which diced them to uniform perfection. The plan was slice the apples, place them in a Ziploc bag, send a paper plate and voila! I had made apple slices for the party.

I recently read an article by Scott Dannemiller titled “To the Moms: Just Stop It” all about moms going overboard on school party treats, with everything from oranges turned into the Lorax with mustaches to Goldfish crackers emblazoned with poetic odes to fishes. In reading the article I was thinking, “Right on why so much pressure to make the perfect snack.” It made me surer that plain old slices were the way to go.

I told my friend about my plan and she was horrified. She had been given the task of bananas and went so far as to paint ghost faces on each and every one using chocolate and turned clementine’s into mini-pumpkins to accompany it, “overachiever much” I scoffed at her.

She and my sister sent me pictures of ideas I could use to spruce up my treat, everything from using a toothpick to set marshmallows in neat rows to make them look like teeth to cutting them into a mouth, slicing a strawberry and using it like a tongue. To really set them off I was to use frosting to make eyes on the top. My mom simply suggested squeezing some lemon juice on them to keep from browning, as a parent from the 80s she didn’t much care for making faces out of fruit. So the day of the big party arrived and what did I do?

Slices in a bag, with lemon juice. I even sent a picture of my bag of apples to my friend captioned, “how do you like them apples?” She sent back a picture of her beautiful banana graveyard on a real platter.

I felt fine with my choice of apple slices done quick, but I did feel a twinge of guilt when I saw how much effort the other mother’s had put in: mummy wrapped juice boxes, sandwiches cut to look like spiders with pretzel legs. Ugh, and there I was with a plastic bag.

Then I got the report back from my daughter on her class party. I asked her if everybody liked the apples, she said “yeah sure.” She didn’t give it an extra thought or even realize the apples were our contribution. My son, who is three, thought nothing of any of it and the teacher appreciated the paper plate so she didn’t have to track me down after the party to return dishes.

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So, in some ways I feel apple slices wahoo nailed it. It was a very stress free morning, only adding five minutes to my prep time. In other respects I feel like it might have been more fun to doll those slices up, maybe the kids would have thought they were fun. With the big holiday parties coming up, Thanksgiving and Christmas I think I might pull out a little more effort, but if I find myself stressed in the season, which often happens, I’m just going to keep it simple, cheese sticks, check, and juice boxes, sign me up.

I think it’s great for the parents who get pleasure from making these treats, but I don’t particularly enjoy sticking googly eyes on produce. On the other hand I like seeing people proud of their creativity. So, for those who love to dress it up I say dress on I will admire your works from afar. As for me I’m going to up my game and find a paper plate with turkey on it or Old Saint Nick to hold my apple slices, that way I too can count myself among the ranks of the festive.

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