Updated: Nov 5, 2019
Hello. My name is Jan and I am a recovering over the top birthday party thrower. The combination of being a planner, slightly driven and creative produces the perfect storm of Pinterest crazed partydom. It's all really fun until suddenly it's not anymore and you have maybe bitten off more than you can chew. It's hard letting go of the vision you created in your head of the perfect party. Anyone else? I have retired as amateur event planner. No more blue tooth headset and sleek black uniform for me on party days at our house. Joke.
Even if you don't admit to it, chances are you know someone like me. And you probably inwardly roll your eyes at them, but smile and say how nice everything is. Or maybe you are actually a sincere, kind person and you genuinely feel that way. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.
I'm not saying being creative and enjoying creating are a bad thing at all! I'm saying "I can't play with you right now honey because I am obsessing and caring too much about throwing your extravagant birthday party" is a bad thing. The kind of thing you might do when you care a bit too much about the wrong things. Enough said.
Some lessons I have learned to help decrease the amount of eye rolling I do at myself:
1. Nobody likes a showoff. Yes. By all means let your little light shine. Just try not to blind your guests with the high beams of Pinterest perfection. Include your kids in the planning and let them help in a perfectly imperfect way without micromanaging or fixing everything. Trust me it's way cuter. If that doesn't scratch the crafting itch enough, pick one simple project to go nuts on and give yourself a reasonable time limit.
2. Don't live life for the pictures. Take more shots of people than stuff. Try not to be a tourist at the party. Remember the episode of The Office when Jim and Pam get married and snap mental pictures throughout the day? Be present enough to do that.
3. Yes, please! You are not a pro party planner and your family is not your staff. This is not to say you should do all the work yourself of course, just make sure the participants are willing and include them in the planning. Don't plan for something huge and then force it on your family. If people offer to bring food, let them. If your Mom asks if she can help, let her.
4. If you had fun you won! It's not fun for you or guests if you are stressed or exhausted. They can tell. Have you been to a party like that? I have...some were thrown by me. Try not to be a caterer the whole time. Enjoy the fruits of your labors. Have fun at the party and your guests will have fun too.
5. Improve your serve. Throwing a party is an act of service. Service to bring glory to oneself (showing off) is not true service. It's self-serving. Check in with your true intentions.
Our first child was born on the last day of school (we were both teachers) and our last child was born on the first day of school (for my husband and first grader). Our summers have party bookends. My eight-year-old invited a couple of friends to "camp" in the backyard and make mountain pies and s'mores. A very easy party.
We just celebrated our baby's second birthday this past weekend. Let's be honest, a two-year-old hardly understands it's her birthday, but does like all the attention. The party is as much for guests as it is for the baby.
Photo Credit: Rebecca Sior
I didn't start the planning with a grand theme. This was a party that seemed to almost create itself. On Evite, I went with the format shown above. As I typed the message, "Hazie Daisy is turning two," it occurred to me that I had accidentally stumbled upon a theme. The rest easily unfolded. Daisy cupcakes. Done. That was my simple creative task. And it just so happened that my daughter had a cute hand-me-down daisy dress to wear at her party. Perfect!
I kept the menu super simple and when my mother-in-law offered to bring a dish, I asked for the usual spinach salad that everyone loves. (The dressing is pretty much liquid sugar!!) Thanks Mom!
The day of the party I got the kids started on decorations. My eight-year-old especially loves to get ready for parties. My five-year-old had a great time hiding daisies she had drawn all around the house. While they worked, I finished up a few things in the kitchen. My husband mowed the lawn. My mom did some minor cleaning and the glass on my doors was without hand prints for all of five minutes. Thanks Mom!
Since decluttering our house, hosting get-togethers is much less stressful. Our house is fairly presentable most of the time. No hiding clutter in random places.
I enjoyed that party, because I kept it small and my expectations of myself low. I wasn't exhausted and my house wasn't trashed at the end of the day.
Do you have any simple party throwing ideas that don't break the bank?