It’s official: Birthday parties, and planning them, are the worst!
Luckily, my kids’ birthdays are only about a month apart, so I can combine them and only plan one party a year. But, as my husband reminded me yet again this year, it makes for a pretty big party with “way too many people.”
You see, I really have no idea who to invite. I always start with immediate family, but my family is very close. I start inviting one and then need to invite another, oh, and I don’t want so-and-so to feel left out! And before I know it, I already have enough people to fill a room and haven’t even gotten to their friends.
With the girls both in school now, inviting “friends” is even more challenging. I am just not an invite-the-whole-class kind of mom. Don’t get me wrong! I am not the mom that would allow all but a few to be invited. It’s just that, when Maylie gets an invitation at school and I have never even heard the kid’s name out of her mouth, we are not attending that party.
So, I decided to do what any Mom in this technological day and age would do. I challenged the girls to get their friends’ last names so I could Facebook stalk their friends’ mom. They pretty much failed that challenge but, luckily, I was already friends with plenty of the moms of their requested list.
Finally, the date, time, place and invites were sent. Next on the docket, a theme. Not sure if you caught on to this yet, but my girls are completely different. Maylie insisted on unicorns; Reagan was adamant that she wanted Tinkerbell. Unicorn-Tinkerbell would have to do.
Only one problem: Unicorns are a big thing right now. Finding decorations and a birthday outfit with unicorns was simple. Tinkerbell is like obsolete. The only Tinkerbell-related clothing I could find for Reagan to wear was a dress up costume which of course was “itchy,” so she refused to wear it.
And seriously, an eight-pack of Tinkerbell plates was like $4.99. Easily, it was decided that 8 people — and only 8 people — would get to have the luxury of viewing Tinkerbell between bites of pizza.
Ah, and then there is the pizza — or feeding of all the guests. That alone is a complex guess. My mama always taught me that you never want to run out of food. But, let’s be honest, if I take home two full leftover pizzas, then I will eat two full leftover pizzas. It is a fine balancing act that I am still trying to master. Let’s just say, I ate a lot of pizza after their party.
Next up, the goodie bags. Where did goodie bags even come from? When I was growing up, I swear we didn’t have them. It’s so much work (and money). I would gladly make a pact with all mamas inviting my kids to their kids’ parties — no goodie bags! You get my kid a gift on their birthday, and I will do the same for yours. We do not need to give gifts for every attendee.
Since that is not the way birthday parties are these days, I felt like I had to measure up. I mean, some of the goodie bags my kids have received at other kids’ birthday parties are so creative that I felt like I couldn’t come in with the dollar store whistles, candy and necklaces (although those seem to be my kids’ favorite kind).
Yes, these are real pressures of a modern-day mom planning a birthday party!
Not to mention the fact that the party is completely chaotic and went so fast that the result of my weeks of planning left me to rely on pictures that captured the joy in my baby girls’ faces, as I was too busy running around like a crazy lady making sure everything was moving along. Or at least attempting to.
As mentioned before, we invited a lot of people. All of said people brought gifts (which we really are so thankful for!). However, all of these gifts are still covering my dining room, kitchen and living room floors. From half-opened items to boxes and bags, it literally looks like birthday gifts threw up all over my house.
It’s annoying. It’s completely overwhelming. And it is absurdly humbling.
Yes, planning and hosting a birthday party is the worst. But it is also the best. Knowing so many people love my babies and take the time to spoil and celebrate them reveals just how lucky we are to have such amazing friends and family.
After all, it’s only once a year. And seeing the smiles and appreciation on my girls’ faces really does make it all — the planning, expense, and pressure — worth it.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.