I've just come from my granddaughter, Lyla's, third birthday party. The theme was Minnie Mouse and I'm still wearing mouse ears.

The party was adorable -- how could it not be with Minnie involved? I treasure these times with my grandchildren because it won't be long before they're into goth or zombie parties. When I arrived at the event, the place was festooned with Minnie Mouse decorations -- all handmade by my industrious daughter. However, Lyla was not wearing the expensive and adorable Minnie Mouse dress I'd bought her because it was "itchy." Instead she'd dressed in an old Minnie T-shirt and some polka dot pajama bottoms. I guess when you're the guest of honor you can wear what you darn well please.

Soon the room was filled with 3-year-olds all wearing mouse ears. Rather than trying to structure the party, my daughter had set up "play stations" for the kids. They were free to choose from the Minnie Coloring and Stickers Station, the Minnie Balloon Romp Station, the Minnie Temporary Tattoo Station and so on. Or they could just go play outside.

The Minnie-shaped piñata was a big hit. Luckily there's no bludgeoning the piñata with large dangerous weapons any more. This one had ribbons dangling from the bottom, which allowed each kid a chance to "pull" it open and release the treats. Not quite as exciting, perhaps, as swinging a bat through the air, but no one got bonked on the head and had to go to the ER.


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The birthday girl pulled the last ribbon (rigged?), and the goodies fell onto the floor, causing a scramble for the treats. I tried to grab as much candy as I could, but most of it was gone by the time I dove into the melee. When it was time for refreshments, the kids munched on Minnie-shaped sandwiches and Minnie-shaped chicken nuggets while their parents downed extra-strength mimosas to help them cope with the chaotic fun.

Finally, it was time for Minnie Cupcakes. The guests sang "Happy Birthday," Lyla blew out all three candles, and the kids barely licked the frosting off the cupcakes before returning to play.

I thought about how nice it would be for us grown-ups to return to those magical birthday party days. I'm tired of all the "Over the Hill" events we've been attending lately. For my next party, instead of guests dressing up in gray wigs and bifocals, I want tiaras or Groucho glasses. Instead of the One-Up-Manship Game -- sharing our latest "procedures" -- I want "Play Stations," like the Poker Station, the Massage Station or the Dance Revolution Station. And instead of playing Pin the Hairpiece on Grandpa or hitting a tombstone-shaped piñata with a walking cane, I want to play Pin the Implants on Grandma and beat up a Kardashian-shaped piñata.

Furthermore, instead of eating tasteless food like "that Jamie Lee Curtis yogurt" and drinking Ensure (with a side of Prilosec), I want to munch on a bunch of Costco appetizers and down them with Hurricanes (with a side of Prilosec). Finally, I want my birthday cupcakes to be made out of just chocolate icing, injected with expensive liqueurs and washed down with a keg stand.

No more "Over the Hill" parties for me. Taking a page from Minnie Mouse's Party Handbook, I'm wearing mouse ears to my next rager!

Reach Penny Warner at www. pennywarner.com.