Saying Goodbye to Over the Top Kid’s Parties

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Saying Goodbye to over-the-top kid'sThere is something so fun and exciting about birthday parties.  Every year my kids love to choose their favorite theme, and then I love the ultra fun “mom” part of searching on Pinterest.  It is fun, but I’ve noticed that every year my kid’s parties seem to get a tiny bit more elaborate.   The over the top parties are fun, but you know what else they are?

Exhausting.

Last year my daughter turned 5. After much deliberation she finally decided on the Frozen theme (along with every other girl in her age demographic).

A couple of weeks before the party I spent hours scouring through the stores searching for snowflakes and icicles in the middle of the summer.   I was hunting down the much sought after Elsa plates, and I was buying bags upon bags of marshmallows. I bought so many bags, in fact, that the cashier asked me if I was having a marshmallow party.  (I’m not sure what a marshmallow party is, but I’m pretty sure it’s guaranteed fun.)

Anyway, the week of the party came, and I was frazzled.  I was glittering note-cards, making marshmallow snowman, and creating signs for all of the finger foods.  I was filling surgical gloves with water, glitter, and mini tiaras in an attempt to make the perfect “Elsa’s Frozen Hands” that I had discovered on a crafting site.  Side-note: Only do that activity if you don’t mind your backyard looking like it has been attacked by glitter fairies from the 7th realm of the underworld.

The morning of the party, I woke up before sunrise because I had sandwiches that needed to be cut into the shapes of snowflakes (naturally). I had Frozen pictures hung, and tulle draped on the counters.  Everything was looking great, and I had arrangements with my mother-in-law to pick up the blue, sparkly, two-tiered wedding cake that I had ordered.

Yes, you read that right.

Take a moment and let that fully sink in.  I had a WEDDING CAKE for a FIVE year old.

Now, in my defense it wasn’t the most expensive or the fanciest of all wedding cakes, but it was still a wedding cake, none the less.  My party wasn’t the most over the top crazy party.  It definitely wasn’t going to be featured on MTV’s My Sweet Sixteen, but I still put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into it.

Later on, I asked my daughter what her favorite part of her party was, and you know what she told me? Opening her presents and playing with her friends, the two most basic parts of a birthday party. She didn’t mention any of the other things and actually I don’t even think she remembers them.

Later that year, two weeks before my son’s birthday party was approaching, I felt a sense of panic.  I had nothing prepared. There had been no special theme requested.  No Pinterest planning had occurred, and no cake had been ordered. Nothing. I texted my husband and told him I was “freaking out” and that in a moment of pure insanity I was thinking about canceling the party.  He then sent me a text that brought me back into the land of reality.

He simply said, “Let’s just gather our friends together and celebrate a birthday.  No show.  It’s too stressful”.

Duh.

How simple.  I had taken a simple celebration and had turned it into more than it ever needed to be.

So that’s what we did.  We had a simple party.  We had few decorations but no streamers, no fancy cakes, nothing over the top.  I even made the cupcakes. (Which turned out horrifically ugly, by the way.)

You know what happened though? It was a blast. Memories were still made, my son was loved on, and I was not a stressed out mess.

What happened to the days of party simplicity?  Why do I put so much pressure on myself to put on a perfect party?  My kids really don’t care about the elaborate decorations or the perfected finger foods.  My kids don’t love me more for obsessively planning and making sure every last thing is in order.  In fact, they had much more fun running around the house wreaking havoc, eating a normal cake, and not being told to “act like a lady” fifty million times.

I am not saying that over the top parties are bad or should be banned, or that any mom who spends hours perfecting her child’s party is over the top and ridiculous.  If you enjoy it and your kids love it, then go for it!   For me, the party planning and the party experience had become too stressful and was making me a nervous wreck.  I didn’t even enjoy the party because I was too busy fretting over the details that none of my kids even noticed or cared about.

So from now on I’m cutting back.  There will be no more snowflake sandwiches or wedding cakes.  I’m saying goodbye to over-the-top kid’s parties and I’m stepping back into the land of pure party simplicity.  I have a feeling that it will be wonderful.

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