Party hats! Party hats say “PARTY!” like nothing else does. In fact, party hats are essential for turning a boring celebration into something fun. Recently, my eldest brother, Park, celebrated a milestone birthday and most of our family came together to attend his party. Park’s youngest son, Slade, and I spent many hours on the telephone planning the details of the party. I volunteered to bring the party supplies, such as birthday plates, napkins, etc. because David and I would be traveling for a long distance to attend the party, precluding our ability to bring food. Slade immediately said, “If you are bringing the party supplies, please be sure to bring party hats for everyone to wear.” I agreed, then I began to reflect on this when we ended our call. Slade is a former Army Ranger; he is a pretty macho guy, super fit and the “outdoorsy” type, but the one thing he thought essential for his dad’s celebration was silly party hats for everyone! It turns out that Slade was onto something. The party hats were an instant hit with all but one of my family members (the exception was my surly teenaged great-nephew, who erroneously thought he was too cool for a hat). In fact, many of the people who attended Park’s party wore their hats for its duration. My late mother’s 90th birthday party also involved the wearing of party hats. There is a great photo of Mom and my dear friend, Roger, with both of them wearing party hats, that, many years later, is displayed prominently on Roger’s refrigerator. And, as my friend Teresa will verify, there is nothing that says “Today is my birthday!” better than wearing a party hat. Teresa recently celebrated her birthday with David and me and was wished “Happy birthday” numerous times throughout the day we spent in Miami, all because she was wearing a purple (her favorite color) party hat. Why be boring and dull when celebrating your or a loved one’s birthday? Have as much fun as you can, all the while donning a silly paper party hat!
I’m not particularly fond of conical paper hats, aka party hats, but I certainly don’t want to be a party pooper. It is interesting to me that such things as party hats are a shared aspect of celebrations across cultures. There are probably anthropologists or sociologists who study such things. And, while I haven’t really studied the issue, as I’m writing this I am remembering attending Christmas parties in Australia which involved wearing crepe paper crown shaped party hats. They came in a party kit. And, I’ll never forget my elderly great-aunt having a lobster shaped party hat put on her head for a birthday celebration and photo at an “exquisite” Red Lobster; she was mortified. Who hasn’t seen a giant sombrero used at a Mexican restaurant with similar results? These silly additions to a celebration add to making the event special and unique when compared to an everyday lunch, dinner, or outing. The intent is not to embarrass; Teresa was anything but embarrassed, and neither was Park. It was just a bit of added fun and, for Teresa, garnered her a slice of birthday pie at Don Shula’s restaurant. So, I’ll wear the silly hat and my party shoes, but that’s another story.