It’s my party and I’ll plan it like I want to…
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I’d like for you to meet Angie B. Angie B. is a sweet, sweet friend that I hope will be a regular contributor here on She Wears Many Hats. Please welcome her and make sure to leave a comment. Hope you enjoy! ~ Amy
I love birthdays, I really do. Gifts, cake, a whole day celebrating one’s arrival on the planet, what’s not to love? Birthday PARTIES however, are another story. The kid’s kind, I mean. The planning and hosting of.
I know there are those moms out there (I call them “Martha Stewart moms“, you know who you are) who really do a fantastic job at this. You can tell lots of thought and planning go into their parties. There’s a creative “theme” and all the decorations, plates, cups, cake, and even the games follow the theme. They have the parties at their spotless, well decorated homes, perhaps their husbands, older children, and pets dress up as characters and participate. Yep, happens every day, all over the world. I know it because I’ve read about them in parenting magazines and on websites, complete with pictures of the smiling cherubs on their special day, next to Spot in his superhero cape.
Then there are moms like me (There ARE others aren‘t there?) who somehow manage to overlook the fact that their child’s birthday is approaching until about a week before it arrives. (“Are you kidding me? Has it been another year already??”) Then it’s a scramble to get their friend’s addresses for the invitations, order a cake, find somewhere to have the party that isn’t already spoken for at this late date, and convince the husband that it’s reasonable to pay out good money to hold your party somewhere other than your own kitchen, which he points out (quite unreasonably) is free.
It usually works out though. Kids are wonderfully easy to please, I‘ve found. If there’s cake, ice cream and other kids that’s pretty much all they need to have a good time. When I say “kids”, I do have a particular age group in mind. I usually don’t plan (and I use that word loosely, obviously) a real “party” until my kids are five years old. At that age, they start school and find out that there is such a thing and that it is more than your grandparents coming over and having cake after dinner. Then the cat is out of the bag. Darn loose-lipped public school kids.
I did actually plan a party for my firstborn on his very first birthday. New mom craziness, I guess. Had it at my house even. Made little cupcakes and thought I was really clever arranging them in the shape of a “1”. Yep, Martha Stewart mom I am NOT, but I did hang streamers and put a bouquet of balloons on his little high chair. I even had my husband borrow a video recorder to document the historic event. This was back before everyone had the little palm sized deals, this thing went on your shoulder like you see on TV camera crews. He was not thrilled but he agreed.
Now, I don’t want to complain but the footage was, well, let‘s just say he‘s as good a cameraman as I am a party planner. He went out to greet the first guests. Wish I could remember who they were, what we later saw on the tape was the ground and Ben’s right shoe. Later, as we sang “Happy Birthday” to that precious little angel, I’ll bet his face was alight with joy and surprise. I’ll bet he looked curious and excited. I can’t say for sure, but I can tell you that the camera shot of the stove directly behind him was nicely framed and in focus. Thankfully, we do have some still camera shots of that day. It looks like everyone was having fun but that was it for me. That marked the first and last pre-school birthday party I have planned.
When they get to be around 11, they usually decide they’re too old for that kind of party (okay, maybe I float the suggestion…is that wrong?) and we go to a much more laid back kind of plan where they invite 2-3 friends and we take them bowling or to a movie and then back here for pizza. Very low-key, no planning involved. I can do this.
However, due to the 10 year age gap between our first two children and our last two (Yes, I know what you’re thinking, I do family planning as well as I do party planning) I only got to enjoy that respite for a couple of years. My oldest daughter turned 5 last year so I dutifully called the skating rink and arranged for all her little friends to meet us there and a rollicking good time was had by all, judging by the pictures. And as I write this I am pleased to say we just celebrated her 6th birthday and, despite the fact that it was arranged approximately 7 days beforehand, she pronounced it the “best party ever!”. Take that, Martha!
Now, before you send Amy hate mail (Yeah, please don’t send me hate mail – I love party planning. I do tend to go overboard though. ~ Amy) for posting “anti-party” pieces dissing the world’s most beloved entertainment diva, let me say that I really ADMIRE those moms who put in the effort to make their kid’s parties so special. I’m a bit envious, truth be known.
~ Angie B.
Everybody’s got their own style when it comes to celebrating, what’s yours? Do you enjoy planning elaborate, themed parties or are you more of a “call a couple of friends & pick up a cake on the way home” kinda gal? Share your favorite party planning tips!
OR is there a time when you went over the top with some crazy party plans only to realize later that the guest would’ve been happy with Twinkies and “Pin the Tail on the Donkey”? Please do share.
I adore these pitures. And my mom was alot like you – always scrambling to get things ready for a bday last minute – but shes the best!
Oh, you don’t know how it warms my heart to hear you say that Jessica! So maybe my kids won’t need therapy after all to learn to let go of their buried yearning for the parties their mom never threw….
I am SOOOOO digging the Pepperidge Farm Cakes!!
Carrie had a blast at Jennifer’s party! I’m with you, Angie…the simpler the better! And another question…who started the treat bag thing?…was it Martha?
Hey! It’s Amy. Don’t know who started the treat bag thing but I’m all about saying goodbye to it – maybe we can start a movement?
We have so rarely had a party that I don’t think my kids even think about asking for one. We are too cheap to have it somewhere and I am not a good enough housekeeper to have it at our home. I am usually wrapping their presents as they sit on the couch and wait patiently to open them. I will say that we started a tradition that my kids love and that is letting them pick their favorite restaurant to eat at on their birthday (we don’t eat out much, so this is a big deal). We might even let a friend come over to spend the night but that’s as good as it gets! Oh well, do you really remember what you did on your birthdays?
LOL Angie! Love the Pepperidge Farm cakes! We did those until the kids found out about “bakery” cakes. Parties around here were for important milestones & even some of those got skipped. 🙁 (bad mommy!).
*However*, I’m sure you remember the sleepover/paddleboat/swimming in the lake party I had. 😛 (snake!) LOL.
Love the Pepperidge Farm birthday cake!! I’ve eaten many a one myself (and I mean all of it, by myself) and they are delicious. Never used one for a birthday cake, however. But hey, there’s always a first time! :o)
I wish I was a little more like you, because I feel like I’ve created a monster by planning parties for my kids EVERY year! Now, I don’t know how to get off this crazy ride. As they get older (14 & 11) I find it is a bit easier just to invite a few over for a sleep over or movie etc. But I have to admit its not as much fun as when they were little.
Great post! I could relate to a lot that you said even if I tend to be that Martha Stewart type of Mom when it comes to Birthday parties. But only birthdays nothing else. lol : )
Ha! I’m the worst of both worlds — a Martha Stewart wanna-be who’s too scatterbrained to pull it off, but tries anyway & races around like a headless chicken trying to take care of all the details I didn’t think of ahead of time. OY!
But my children have managed to enjoy themselves even when I didn’t get all the t’s crossed & i’s dotted. So I’m happy with that.
For one of Stephen’s birthdays — I don’t remember which one exactly, except that it was pre-double digits — I tried a knights & castles theme. I made shields out of cardboard, got king-sized pillowcases for the kids to use as capes, & blew up those long, skinny balloons for “swords.” I planned a couple of crafts, but mostly, I learned that boys wanna eat cake & ice cream & race around & play really physical games — piñatas were always a big…HIT…hahaha!
Another time, we did Spiderman. I spent HOURS at the computer printing out little booklets with pages to color & word-finds & crossword puzzles for the guests as party favors. I also printed out pictures of Spidey “bad guys” & tacked ’em up around the yard, gave the kids cans of silly string, & set ’em loose to “fight crime.” That was a hit, but really, really messy! : )
Just today we had a birthday party for my now 7 year old son, Joshua. I was out of town all weekend so his birthday consisted of my husband getting balloons, cupcakes ($13.99 Walmart), plates, etc… on his way home from work mid-day. Joshua wanted to play capture the flag in the backyard, and yes, it did rain ALL DAY LONG. My husband stopped at a fabric store on the way home (which is in itself a miracle) and picked up $4 of fabric for the flags for the boys to wear. Simple, cheap and tons of fun.
Well,With my first child I was the perfect party planning diva. Matching everything, and spending more on the treat bag than I did on a gift for the BD boy! The second came along and I still threw great parties but cut back to solid colored plates,cups etc. instead of every theme matching piece of the BD ensemble. There were 4 years between the first two and the last two children and somewhere between there, the Martha in me exited stage left. My last two usually have a sleep over 2 weeks after their Birth date, because of procrastination! Wow after actually confessing in black and white I feel like dirt, and I am going to plan my baby girl’s 8th party which is in THREE days!!
Andrea I know just what you mean–Amy asked me to give her some pics to go with this article and when I looked at them all together side by side like that and saw the plain Pepperidge Farm cakes (which I didn’t even buy, their grandmother did!) and the lack of decorations I felt pretty doggone crummy too. But look again. Look at the faces in those pictures. They look pretty happy don’t they? And you know my kids, they’re pretty well adjusted aren’t they? There’s not one thing wrong with having a great, all-out bash if you can afford it but I also happen to know there are lots of things you do for your kids that let them know every single day how much you care about them and that outweighs any birthday party…even the ones that are two weeks late!! I guess I’m just saying, to all those moms (like me) who don’t have the “gift” of planning: A birthday party is not the measure of a mom. Your kids already know that, and so should you. Guilt begone!! 😉
My mom was the best party planning mom ever. Actually she still is as she just threw me birthday party last month (I’m 30) and a bridal shower on Sunday.
I’m hoping when I have kids I can convincer her to plan those also.
I do cooking birthday parties for kids. Most of the time, we cook in someone’s house – a bunch of kids spread around the dining room table…or at the kitchen counters, if we are lucky. But one time, I was hired to do a party for 40 6-year old children. Yes, you read that right. A cooking party for 40 6 year olds! The mom rented out an entire recreation center, and I had to bring 4 extra teachers with me. Each of us worked with one group of students at a time as they rotated through our “stations” to complete all of the recipes that the mom asked for. It was hectic, to say the least – especially since the caterers (yes – she had food catered for the parents) gave us dirty looks because we had food in all of the ovens and they couldn’t heat their food. And imagine my surprise when I saw the birthday cake, and instantly knew that it probably cost more than I did! Yikes!