For Bubba’s first birthday, I didn’t bother throwing a party. It’s not like he had any friends to celebrate with (he didn’t start daycare until a couple months later), and since he obviously wasn’t going to know the difference, I figured I’d just save myself the hassle. This year I decided to act like a Good Mother and held a full-on party complete with a bounce house and actual guests who were not related to me, and I’m eternally thankful for the prescience (AKA laziness) that allowed me to skip out on last year’s party. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but planning and hosting a birthday party — even a casual one for a toddler — is HARD WORK! All throughout the process I just kept thinking, “people do this every year? HOW, AND WHY!?” By the end of the day, I was ready for a bottle of wine and a weeklong vacation, and vowed to wait at least five years before giving another party.
When I started planning the party (nearly a MONTH in advance, by the way; I fully thought I was the best mom ever for starting so early, then quickly learned that I had apparently started too late), I naively assumed it’d be fairly simple. We’d arrange for a bounce house or something, order some pizzas, invite my family and the daycare kids, and there ya go: party!
First of all, it took me no fewer than 15 calls and 25 emails to find a freakin’ bounce house rental place. Actually, that’s not accurate. I had no problem finding websites and Craigslist listings advertising the rental of said bounce houses, but apparently this is an industry run exclusively by people who don’t speak English and 13-year-olds who learned web design in 1996, because just trying to get pricing and availability information from these companies was like pulling teeth. I nearly wept with joy when I finally received a reply to one of my countless emails and immediately made a reservation, then spent the next four weeks praying they would show up (spoiler: they did!).
With the entertainment vaguely secured, I put together my guest list and started working on invitations. This part was actually fairly easy, because I stole the template from one friend and then forced another friend to edit it to my specifications. It came out beautifully, if I do say so myself:
Once the invitations were out, I started a “party prep to-do list.” This is the point at which I realized that I was in over my head. A party needs decorations! And you’ve gotta have goody bags! What about food?! And wait, will a bounce house be enough entertainment? Do I need a clown or something? (Don’t worry, I didn’t get a clown.) I better arrange for the dog to go to doggie daycare, because she’s kind of a feral beast and might mistake a smile child for a squirrel and try to eat it alive. Oh yeah, I have to make a cake! And it has to be the best cake ever, because I’ve made some pretty sweet cakes (no pun intended) for other people and this is for my son, so it must surpass all others. AND OH MY GOD ALL THESE PEOPLE ARE GONNA BE IN MY HOUSE AND I’VE GOTTA CLEAN THE WHOLE DAMN THING FROM TOP TO BOTTOM!
I did as much as I could in the weeks before the party, but obviously most tasks had to be saved for the days immediately preceding the big event (I ain’t mopping if guests aren’t a-knockin’). So I created a master schedule for the three days before the party and filled every waking minute with cleaning, baking, and setup tasks. My schedule was packed, but I was confident that I could get everything done. I was ready to be the Party Queen!
And then on Thanksgiving night, when my schedule said I was supposed to be tinting fondant and making buttercream icing for the cake, I got hit with The Plague (I can only assume). Puking commenced suddenly and violently. So much puke. I was laid up for 24 hours as the party loomed ever nearer, unable to cross a single item off my to-do list.
Panic ensued. Who’s going to clean my house? (Certainly not my husband, who once looked at a stove literally covered in spilled food and told me, with a straight face and Kenneth Parcell-level sincerity, that he didn’t see anything wrong.) What about my cake?! And those Party City paper dump truck centerpieces aren’t going to fold themselves!
Thankfully, I rallied the next day and cleaned for about 12 straight hours, then got to work on the cake. I decided that aesthetics were more important than quality or taste and used Betty Crocker mixes instead of baking from scratch so I could focus my energies on the decorating instead, something I haven’t done before but will likely always do in the future (no one cares about the taste when they’re looking at a masterpiece of cake design, right??). By Sunday morning, the cake was complete, the house was the cleanest it’s been since Bubba’s birth (sadly not an exaggeration), the goody bags were full of leftover Halloween candy (true story) and fine treasures from Target’s dollar section, and my yard was decked out with construction-themed nonsense. The sketchy bounce house shockingly arrived on time (and stayed upright the entire party, even more shockingly), my parents kindly picked up the food on their way over, and then the guests arrived!
Bounce house arrived at 8:45am. This photo was taken at approximately 8:45 and 15 seconds. He was…excited.
I wasn’t kidding about the paper dump truck centerpieces.
I made my poor sister be a face painter. I think she should quit her day job, as this is clearly her true talent in life!
I’m no party-planner or professional decorator, but I think a wagon full of beverages is just more construction-y than a cooler.
These three ate ice out of the wagon for TWENTY MINUTES. Um…bounce house? Face paint?
Just bragging that I have friends (real cool ones, too!).
My finest work yet. Set the bar too high for future birthdays, unfortunately.
I’m exhausted. And now I see why people hold parties at Chuck E. Cheese!