United States of Motherhood: It's His Party and I Can Cry If I Want to: My Mission To Simplify Our Birthday Parties

Saturday, May 30, 2009

It's His Party and I Can Cry If I Want to: My Mission To Simplify Our Birthday Parties

See this little guy? It's his birthday party in that picture. He's two and it was a train party with sandwiches carved into trains, train rides for 40 guests on real steam engine miniature trains, pinatas, tent set up at park, and all the trimmings.

So, I am know for my parties. I am the penultimate party lady.

At school, people have seriously told me they were so sad they didn't make it into one of my children's classes because they knew I'd be party mom.

They knew?

I've been trying to extricate myself from that Martha Stewart part of my life for a while now. I am only co-party mom to one child's class this year, but I cannot escape my reputation.

I self-patterned, hand-sewed and stuffed these last year for one school party:

Yes, 30 stuffed coyotes, hand sewn scarves to choose from, carefully glued button eyes the kids chose at school. Yep, a very labor intensive build-a-bear.

Almost as labor intensive as the 30 minuted DVD we had for Eldest's class I put together with music and transitions.

Yep, trying to escape my reputation of 15 girls at a sleep over with chocolate facials, homemade, triple-decker cakes with homemade ganache on pedestals and columns, personalized lip glosses and hand lotion gift baggies, and crazy intricate decoration. Did I mention we used the good china? The chips were in hand cut crystal bowls?

I know. Ridiculous. I am the mom you hate.

Or a pirate birthday party with 25 6th graders each given costumes to ravage the neighborhood before return for an so over the top pirate theme with bones and gold strewn throughout the house with massive amounts of games, pizza, homemade goodies, and cake.

Did I mention this party was 6 hours long?? Or that there were over 40 Jolly Roger Flags purchased and displayed?


This year has been the year of slowly trying to slow down the party mania both in time for me and cost.

Oh, my goodness, the cost. With never wanting to hurt feeling, we have the precedent of large attendance parties, but I am embarrassed to admit that comes at a cost of $400-700 a party and more if I am not keeping track.(Using my best Jedi master technique: CG you did not read this.)

All those party favors, food, decor, parchment invitations, etc. add up. It's ridiculous.

PB's birthday at the SPCA did have 26 guests, but everything else was ramped down a notch and really it was for charity. It still was over $500.

Now Li'l man is up:

This year? I beyond suck. His party today is only 4-1/2 months late. He's been patient. Last year, his party was only 3 months late.

There's something about being a third child whose party falls right after the holidays. Sigh.

So today, we are having our most casual party ever: 6 guests plus the the birthday boy and us, a kid's movie, evite invitations, and Red Robin for lunch afterward.

I am not even bothering with a cake--the singing ice cream sundae from the waiters will do. I'm letting the balloons be Red Robin balloons as the only decor.

Party favors are something last minute we picked up last night rather than this intricate process of labeling and personalizing everything. Simple little buckets of candy with a punch balloon on top since we are going to see "Up."

It's strange to have a party this easy. There's no stress. There will be no clean up. I am hoping we go under $200. There is no grimacing to make everything perfect.

That's it.

After 13 years of motherhood, I've realized everything doesn't have to be perfect. They'll have fun regardless without the huge production.

Maybe I am just off my game this year, or maybe this is the new Scout that realizes enjoying the party with my kids is more important that making it perfect.

Or maybe I realize with two back to back swim practices, then a Marimba concert right before the party, then this party, then two huge school projects the kids need to finish this week-end, then add one more swim practice tomorrow, that we are all tapped out as a family. (breathe)

Yep, I am a slow learner. Must simplify.


feefifoto said...

Beautiful coyotes. Beautiful cake. Beautiful kids. But, whoa! You're working way too hard on their parties (not that I haven't indulged in a little of that excess myself). Go ahead -- give yourself a break. I don't think the kids even care.

Anonymous said...

Your parties sound so wonderful! I love the idea for the epic 6 hour Pirates' Party. And PB's pink cake looks just divine. I fear you. :P

I'm sure just as much fun will be had at the simpler version though, as you know how to have fun and that won't change. Any party with party food and games/movies/activities is good in my book.

Unlike some of the parties here, in middle-aged law partner circles. We attended one such party, I think we were invited as a sort of novelty-shoppe, being from NZ and having bred a mixed-race child no less, and before the age of 30, etc etc. Anyway. the gifts were requested to be educational, the invitation said only 'safety foods' would be served (WTH?), also it would be an organic, fat-free and sugar-free party. Worst of all, when Bean took his pants off in the middle of the party (his dad was so proud) I happened to utter the word 'winky'... and was told off. The mother said "Oh no, we say 'penis' and 'vagina' in this house." Whereupon their three-year-old son stood up and said loudly "Yes! We say WEENIS and PAGINA in this house! WEEEEENIS! PAGIIIIINA!" etc etc.

The husband & I were unable to remain straight-faced after this, especially as the desperate woman continued "Say penis, Daniel! [He usually says penis, everyone!] You can say penis, Daniel! [He said penis just yesterday, in Marks & Spencers...]" etc.

Happy Birthday to Lil Man! :D


Anonymous said...

Oh and if you want a simple party idea, you could try the NZ Party. Goes like this: Dad puts some plastic sheeting down in the steepest part of the garden, mum squirts some dish soap on the plastic, run the garden hose on it, everyone slides down and that's the entertainment. Mum heats up some frozen sausage rolls in the oven, that's the food along w/ tomato sauce, there's a cake, and Bob's your uncle. :)


Beau said...

It was a great party, Murph. The kids had fun and you weren't stressed!

Dumblond said...

Whoa. While those earlier parties sounded uber-kickass, I am so glad you are determined to tone it down.
I only let my kids do birthday parties every other year. I just couldn't handle the idea of going all out (at least as all out as I ever go) every six months...nope. Not this mom!

Mom To A Preschooler said...

You are a genius! You just have an eye for detail and I can imagine how labor intensive these party items are. It's really no wonder why you have such a reputation for hosting great parties. You have talent!

thedailyuplift said...

My third child always gets the late birthday too. Last year his party was when 90 percent of the people we invited were evacuated for a hurricane. We live just outside of New Orleans. Two people came.

heidianne jackson said...

the real question is, scout, do you put as much effort into the grownup parties at your place? and if so, i am definitely jealous.

at our place, the kids were always allowed to pick their meal and cake for their birthday - real birthday parties ocurred on the tenth and 16th birthdays. no muss, no fuss - well except for the girls' sweet 16's...

i understand the birthday ice cream sundae at red robins can be quite nice. i'm certain lm loved it!

Mari said...

OH NO U dIdn'T!!!!!

Scout's Honor said...

See I am trying to make up for my childhood. I got one party the whole 18 years (unless you include the paty my best friend and I planned and paid for ourselves for our 16th). That's what happens when there are 6 kids and another handful of foster kids. Birthdays don't rank as high as food on the table and shoes without holes. :) I know it's an issue I have to give my kids what I missed and wanted.

As for grown up parties, yes I do as much and even much more. guilty. :) AS CG. It kills him.

Vidal Aponte said...

Hello, It seems like this post is a bit old, but I had to comment on it. Wow, what a party!! The way you set this up was incredible. I would love my kids to have a party like this one, lol. Great, great post!!

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