Each year, I feel a sense of dread creeping up on me as the middle of April approaches.
It’s time for my son’s birthday again. While I love watching him celebrate his birthday, I get very anxious about having to throw him a birthday party. I am very jealous of all my friends who seem to just effortlessly throw together a great event. I’m even jealous of the ones who put in a ton of effort, but end up with a beautiful party at the end of it all.
Party planning is simply just not something that I enjoy.
Usually, I try to avoid some of the party planning anxiety by holding my son’s birthday party somewhere else. There are so many different places that you can choose from. Mostly, I love that I don’t have to clean my house either before or after the party. I also appreciate that most of these places offer built-in entertainment options for the oodles of children that always seem to have unlimited supplies of energy. I threw my son’s birthday party at a pizza place one year so that I wouldn’t even have to worry about where to get all the food and drinks. All I had to do was show up with a cake and some presents.
However, I have come to realize that there are some downsides to throwing a child’s birthday party at these types of venues. The most obvious drawback is the cost. It can quickly get out of hand, especially if you end up inviting your child’s entire class to the party. I have attended some completely over-the-top parties which just seemed so ridiculous to me. I don’t want to set my kids up with unrealistic expectations for later in life. Also, after a while, all of these parties start to just feel the same as your kid gets invited to the same venues over and over again. Plus, I found that I was still anxious about throwing a party away from my home. I still had to plan ahead to book the venue, send out the invitations, either bake or order a cake, and shop for presents.
While I usually enjoy shopping for the presents, everything else is just plain stressful for me!
Last year, I happened to take a trip back to visit my family in Ohio in April, so we just threw a small birthday party there. It was just my immediate family gathered together at my mom’s house for pizza, cake, and presents. There were no invitations or RSVPs to worry about and no other children that I had to keep from injuring themselves or others. It was definitely the least stressful party I have thrown for either of my kids. However, my son was a little bit disappointed that none of his friends were there and I can’t take such a long trip every single April, so I needed a new plan for this year.
I started off my looking into some different party venues, but I was really turned off by the cost. I was also unsure about how many children would be able to attend my son’s birthday party because it falls over the April break from school. A little voice inside my head kept telling me that it wouldn’t matter how many kids showed up if I just held the party at home. I tried to ignore the voice, but then it pointed out how much money I would save by throwing the party at home. Then my son told me that he really wanted a Star Wars party this year.
Since the Death Star didn’t happen to be available that weekend, I finally decided to throw my son’s birthday party at home this year.
I decided that I would take the easiest option whenever I could so that I could try to enjoy the birthday party instead of just stressing out about it. I found a template for invitations online. I’m glad they were easy to print because my son messed up handing them out at school and I had to send in a second batch. I decided to just invite all 14 kids from his class. That way, I don’t have to try to get him to make choices about who to invite and no one will feel left out. I’m also assuming that a good number of kids will be out of town that day anyhow. I would rather have a larger than expected number of children show up than to have no one show up and have an extremely disappointed kid on my hands.
For food, I am going to order in some pizza. Easy! Cheap! And kids love pizza anyway!
I’m also going to let my local grocery store make the cake. I’m sure that I will be quite busy enough trying to clean up my house at the last minute without the added stress of trying to make a beautiful and tasty cake. For entertainment, I am going to show a Lego Star Wars movie. It’s shorter than the actual Star Wars movies and perhaps a tad more age appropriate anyway. I told my son that I would get him some popcorn to eat during the movie and he was surprisingly enthusiastic about that. It’s the first thing he has been telling people about the party. Go figure.
I’m also taking the easy route with the decorations. I bought a pack of Star Wars decorations to hang from the ceiling and that is it. I really don’t think that a bunch of 6-year-old boys is going to appreciate extensive decorations, anyway. I’m kind of hoping that the weather will be nice that day so they can all go outside and play in the yard. I’m also not going to worry about getting perfect party favors, either. My son comes home from school and birthday parties with such little tiny pieces of junk that just end up getting lost or broken anyway. I’m just going to fill up a nice Star Wars cup with some candy and call it a day.