I know that so many of you have come to depend upon my parental wisdom, knowing as you do that I have been a mom for nearly seven years now and have much rich and deep (*cough*) experience under my belt. It is for this reason that I feel compelled to share with you my Birthday Party Primer. I have, after all, just thrown my 9th children’s birthday party tonight – I ought to know what I’m talking about, yes? (Note: 9 is a conservative estimate, given that it seems every birthday, including the current one, has required at least 2 or 3 celebrations.)
#1 – Cover all Barf Spots
You may discover, mere hours before your guests arrive, that the dry cleaner you just paid $55 to fumigate your white shag rug did not actually get Lyle’s vomit stain out. At all. Not even close. Never mind that you’ve had it in your house for almost a week before you even realized this, you simply don’t have time to get it out of there before people arrive and potentially SIT on it – because, as everyone says, “These rugs are so cozy! Who needs the sofa? I’ll just sit right here!”
My solution? Bring out the card table, slap a bright sheet over it and – Voila! – a snack table that prevents anyone from sitting on barf at your child’s party! No one will ever know! (That is, until they comment snarkily on the fact that you have this fancy-pants table in your sun room all of a sudden and you feel the need to defend your slovenly housekeeping lest you get an unwanted reputation as a Martha Stewart type.)
Do not plan any games or activities, for goodness sake! Just keep the party short enough that the kids stuff themselves silly, unfurl party blowers into each other’s nostrils and eyeballs, open presents, and play together until the novelty wears off and the crying starts. Then send ’em home! Who cares if they turn the living room into a 3-ring circus? It’s a PARTY!
Make a boxed cake the night before. Your kid likes the movie CARS? Slap some chocolate frosting across the white frosting and call it a road – grab his three favorite movie vehicles and place them on the cake at the last minute. Toss on some car-shaped sprinkles that were coincidentally in the container your husband bought, and you’re golden. You’ve spent a buck thirty and he’s happy as can be. (And, as an extra bonus, you have proven once and for all that you don’t have a Martha Stewart bone in your body: because just LOOK at that thing!) [Wait! Not on vacation? I take it all back: get thee to the bakery and spring for the expensive cake.]
#4. Invite your coolest friends
Invite only good friends to your child’s birthday party. The kind of laid-back, fun-loving adults who don’t judge you, the hostess, for sitting at the table upstairs drinking wine with them rather than supervising the 7 kids under 7 downstairs in the playroom. You know, people who aren’t supervising their kids, either. (We highly recommend Macalester College alumni for this.) Because, frankly, who wouldn’t rather hang out with friends than realize that this is what it looks like down there: