You’d think a child’s birthday party would be simple, wouldn’t you? Invite a few people, have some cake and maybe some snacks, call it a day. Well, like the saying goes, nothing worth having ever comes easily. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love celebrating my children and I love for friends and family to enjoy themselves. Please don’t take this mini-rant as a complaint or that I’m saying I don’t get enough help when planning things. I have a wonderfully helpful husband (and when I say helpful it’s not him “helping”… he loves me and our kids and shares in the load of everything), an amazing mom who’s always there and somehow knows how to help without even asking (thanks, mom… you rock!), and many other family members and friends who are the most helpful and caring people. Like my previous post of the mental load on mothers, wether they work outside the home or at home, the mental (and in this case, physical) load on the designated party planner is more than many people realize. Is it self-inflicted? Maybe… I always say that if something is worth doing, it’s worth over doing, so maybe I’m at fault here, so I’ll own it. This is just a little glimpse at why a simple child’s birthday party is anything but “simple”…
Months before the party, planning begins. What is the theme? Did someone else already have this theme (why the heck I care, I’m really not sure…)? How many people will be coming? Where will I get the invitations? How soon do I need to send the invitations? Are we having the same food we had last time? I need to make a food list for when I go grocery shopping…
Ok… theme planned. It will be construction equipment. Again. Why am I doing this theme again for the second child? Is that bad? Should he have all of his own themes? Nah… he won’t know the difference and I chose it because he likes construction equipment, so construction equipment it shall be. Ok, date? Preferably a Saturday after his actual birthday, since it’s on a weekday. Wait, where should we have it? Fortunately my grandmother graciously allows us to use her condo clubhouse which worked out perfectly last year, so we’ll go with that again. This way I don’t have to *gulp* cllleeeeeeannnn. Ok, at least that part is settled. Oh, but I need to contact them and see if that date is available and see when I need to get a check to them.
Alight, the date is available and we’re on the schedule. Order invites. Is it bad to use the same invites as his older brother? Yes. I say yes… so, let’s make sure I put all of the correct information before I place the order… that would be bad to have people showing up at the wrong place or coming to a 2nd birthday for our 5 year old. Check the invite 10 more times, ok… place in cart and…. order. Dang, that was expensive. Next? Decorations.
Looks like we never used even half of the construction hats last time, so we have those, caution tape, what does Amazon have? Ohhhhhhh… look how cute these little signs are! Wait, I have signs from last time. But these are different! They come with cupcake decorations! And balloons! Ok… place in cart. Look at the matching goodie bag coloring books! I wasn’t going to have goodie bags. But these are so cute! Place in cart… again. Promise, I’m done with decorations.
Oh crap… cake. Cake? Cupcakes? Fortunately, my amazingly talented friend makes the best cakes and cupcakes I’ve ever seen, so I’ll see if she’d like to do them. Cupcakes are easier, so we’ll do that. Oh, but our oldest had a super cute cake… is that bad if our youngest just gets cupcakes? No… cupcakes will do. Yay! She’s making the cupcakes, so I know those will be adorable AND delicious. Food?
We’ll do fruit and veggie trays, those always go fast, I’ll order pizza this time because that has to be cheaper than sandwich trays I usually do, chips, chip dip, tortilla chips… I’ll make a few things. Meatballs always go over well, so I’ll make those, buffalo chicken dip, my mom makes amazing pasta salad, so I think that covers everything. Drinks? A cola, an uncola, CapriSun for kids (and big kids…), bottled water, and I’ll make some of that lemon/cucumber/mint water people like so much. Ok… mentally noted all food, and place order for fruit and veggie trays… wait? What time should I pick it up? well, I’ll be setting up in the morning and the party is at 2, but I don’t want to get it too late. Ugh… 11:20? Sure. Why not. I’ll order the pizza closer to the party date.
Paper goods… how many tablecloths do I need? A lot. Maybe 5? Sure… 5 sounds good. Plates, cake plates, cutlery, cups, napkins. Is that it? I think so. Mentally noted all paper goods and I’ll head to Party City the week before the party.
Ok… even at half off the pizza will be significantly more than the sandwiches, so sandwiches it is and… go to place order and… pickup time? Crap. When was the last pickup time? *Check email* 11:20. Ok, 11:20 for this one too I guess.
Well, crap. The oldest has a basketball game at 1 and the party is at 2. Ok, Pop to the rescue while mom and dad will be running around like crazy before the party.
Set up the time to drop off the check and get the keys to the clubhouse at 9 am the day of the part. 9 am? Is that too early? Do I get ready first or after? Last year I got ready 10 minutes before the party in the bathroom of the clubhouse, so no… 9 am isn’t too early and I’ll get ready after.
Kroger saves the day… order pickup for all party food and everything is in stock (don’t judge… I am an order pickup mom… I’ll do whatever makes my life easier working full-time with two kids at this point…).
Ok, time for Party City purchases. Grab everything in coordinating colors and some cute balloons ordered and $120 later. Wait, $120 for plates, napkins, and cups? Dang… pickup time? What were the other pickup times? Sometime around 11 I think, so 12? Sure… 12 sounds good…
The day before the party, so time to pack literally EVERYTHING. Will all of this fit in the car?! Thank goodness for ginormous IKEA tarp bags! If you don’t have them, GET THEM. Ok, plates, napkins, cutlery, cups, bottles of pop, water, decorations, scissors, tape, string to hang/set up decorations, bowls to serve food. Now, set out all food ingredients and dishes for food that has to be made the day of the party. Meatballs, buffalo chicken dip, cut the lemon, cucumber, and mint for the water, and I think that’s it… I feel like I’m forgetting something.
Day of the party: load everything like I’m moving at 8 am, get gas, pick up 44 lbs of ice (yes, yes… my husband was right… we didn’t need that much ice, but hey… we didn’t run out, people!), pick up my trusty sidekick (aka mom) at 8:30 am, Starbucks line is too long, so I pretty will be nonfunctional for the remainder o the morning. Give the rental check, unload the car for what seems like an eternity, and start the setup. Thankfully set-up went quick, finally made it to Starbucks, and raced home to get ready.
Get ready and head to Kroger to pick up the food… late. Ok, sandwiches come out and… no vegetable or fruit tray, so I wait… and wait… and wait some more. They don’t have an order for a fruit or vegetable tray, but had a fruit tray made from yesterday and they’re working on the vegetable tray. And… wait some more. Text my husband to say “prepare yourself to go get balloons and the number 2 candle I totally forgot to pick up because they are SUPER late and we won’t make it”.
Finally get the vegetable tray and BOLT in the snow/rainy mess because of course the day you have a party the weather can’t just be sunny and pleasant. What fun would that be?! Run into the house, grab the meatballs, grab the buffalo chicken dip that I luckily premade and stuck in the fridge the previous day and shove it all in the back of the car with the rest of the food sliding around because I’m driving like Dale Earnhardt Jr. The birthday boy is still sleeping, so while my husband and I trade batons to finish this insane relay race, I wake him up, get him out of his pajamas, take the dog out because he’s now looking at me like I’ve lost my dang mind, get the birthday boy in the car, and pick up my mom who is waiting on me since my dad is now facilitating the pro basketball player at his weekly game.
Get to the party, set the rest of the food up, my amazing friend brings in her dirt cupcakes (seriously… SO cute!), and the party can now begin!
Now, the fun part… party time where you really don’t get a chance to chat with anyone (which is the best part of a party!), make sure you’re on time since you have rented the space only for so long, only to clean it all up, pack it all up haphazardly into multiple vehicles, and get home only to unload it all and try to figure out what to do with this jumble of party aftermath.
You guys… I’m tired from just writing this. And THAT is why a “simple” child’s birthday party is NEVER simple. Aren’t you so glad I laid it all out for you?
Party on, party people!