April 4, 2012 by mamacravings
I crave a successful birthday party for my son. Elijah is a loving, kindhearted, funny, inquisitive two year old. He is a pleasure to parent. I want to give him a birthday party that celebrates such a great kid. Also, I want cute pictures for http://www.pinterest.com. Perhaps that last bit of motivation bumps me out of the running for mother-of-the-year.
But since I’m already out, I might as well tell on myself. As much as I crave such a celebration, I came about this close (I’m holding my pinky and pointer fingers super close, by the way) to blowing it. For all of my hours planning, charting, shopping and pinterest-ing, all it took was a few moments of things not going my way and I had completely forgotten the entire point of the day.
It started with butcher paper. It was a pretty brilliant idea to use butcher paper that my mom had left over from wrapping presents to cover our tables. It was not as brilliant to fight the March wind to do so.
It continued with strawberries. They were chocolate covered, and the husband and I had frosted tiny white laces on them. They were adorable…Fine. They didn’t quite make the cut of adorable, but you could tell where we were going with it. Of course, I didn’t consider football themed chocolate covered strawberries when I had my son in a Texas March. They completely melted during my husband’s 15 minute drive to the party. Good news: they were delicious. Bad news: the party guests never got to try them. Good news: My new party tradition is chocolate covered strawberries AFTER the party.
For a moment I wondered if the new theme of my party was going to be pinterest fail. I slumped over the empty cake table as I gave up wrestling butcher paper and Spring wind. My makeup had long melted. My straightened hair was matted and stuck to my neck. The ribbon on my shirt was half ripped from the collar. And in 20 minutes there would be approximately 40 people wanting to party. Sigh. Perhaps epic pinterest fail would have been more accurate.
In that moment of tragic “ugh”, I heard little feet patter past me, “Whoa! Cool! Bawwoons!” Chubby dimpled fingers pulled on my pant leg, “Football, pwease?” I handed my little one a football. “Wow, mama! T’anks you!”
I sighed again and asked myself, “What do you crave for this party? What is going to make it a success? What do you care about?”
The answer when I stepped back was really simple. I want my son to smile. I want my son to be celebrated. I want loved ones to be there when we celebrate. So, my tables aren’t covered. So, my cupcakes are dense. So, my strawberries look like a chocolate crime scene. None of that has to do with the fact that my son, who I am honored to mother, just turned two.
I handed my butcher paper war to my husband as he walked up, and I grabbed my “emergency” kit from the car. It has the really important stuff: that perfect shade of lip gloss, a hair tie and some bobby pins. When I figure out how to store a Bake Cupcake (http://www.twitter.com/bakelongview) margarita cupcake in the kit, then it will be able to solve any emergency.
The day ended up being perfect. Yes, perfect. Eli and the kids had a blast. The weather was beautiful. We were surrounded by 40 people that we adore. We got our successful birthday party.
Despite myself, I did come away from the process with 5 tips that I will be applying to all party planning:
1. Be creative with what you have.
I am huge fan of using what I have. It’s easy on the budget and the storage closet. For this party, I was able to use last years center pieces. I turned them upside down and created cupcake displays. Since Eli’s party was so close to Easter, I decided to use football Easter eggs (which we will use for our own egg hunt) and simply basket paper filler. The entire food and drink decor cost me less than $10 (You are welcome Juan’s wallet.).
I tend to get lost in wanting to be super mom. I want to do everything myself, and I want to do it well. This would be a really great idea if God gave us 29 hours each day in an 8 day week. So instead, I delegate. Family members were running errands, decorating, watching Eli, or eating crime scene strawberries.
I gladly took help from anyone who offered, or from anyone who offered…or looked like they might offer. If you do not have a support system that is close to you, then find how much help your budget will allow. Doing it on your own or with less help is an option, it will just take more planning, time and creativity.
Prioritizing is a tough one for me. I had pages of plans for the party. Frankly, we didn’t get to half of them. Decisions had to be made and things had to be cut. It goes back to the time thing and also the March wind and butcher paper thingy. Have a list of the “needs” to be done, a list of the “wants” to be done and one of the “wouldn’t that be cool.” Start with the “needs” list and work down.
4. Pass off the camera.
Two of my dearest friends and I started this at one of the kids’ first birthday parties. The mama of the party will not hold a camera. So often, you either have shutter bug mamas that can’t put the camera down (super guilty of that one), or you get to the end of the event and there are no pictures at all.
Instead have a friend or family member or even a couple of people that are in charge of taking pictures. Be specific about what you want. Let them take care of it.
If you do not have a mamarazzi type in your passe, then contact a local photography school. Students of photography are expanding their portfolios, are creative and will be much more cost friendly than a professional.
5. Tailor the party to your child.
This can apply to theme, games and activities. For me, this was most relevant with what we served. Eli has a pretty specific and healthy eating plan. I wanted him to be able to have most of what we served. His cupcakes were a whole wheat, low sugar dark chocolate cupcake from . Some people loved them. Some people thought it tasted too healthy. But Eli loved them, and I gave them to him (nearly) guilt free.
I craved a successful birthday party for my son. It didn’t go without flaws, but it went. My baby boy had a wonderful time. He played with his friends and family. I got to catch up with those that I don’t get to see often enough. Shortcomings or not, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.