I think it’s pretty safe to say that I’m not a professional party planner. Maybe not even an amateur party planner. Almost every birthday party I’ve thrown was at the nearby park, with some food we grilled or Costco pizzas and a playground to keep the kids entertained.
Now that Pinterest is always shoving these great parties in my face, I thought I would break out of my routine and throw a pin-worthy party for my youngest’s first birthday. Since I call him “Little Man” all the time, naturally that would be a perfect party theme. But like I said I am not a party planner, so this is more of a how not to throw a party post.
My first mistake was not planning far enough ahead. It’s Summer and people’s weekends are packed pretty far in advance. I sent out the invites a few weeks in advance, but many friends already had vacation or party plans. The second mistake was sending out invites via Facebook. Not all of my friends are constantly checking social media sites. A little snail mail goes a long way.
As soon as I had my date set and invites (virtually) sent, I headed over to my old friend Oriental Trading company to see what they had available. Luckily they have a pretty extensive and affordable collection of mustachey goodness, so I didn’t have a problem hitting the $50 minimum order to get free shipping.
I like a pinata at my party, but I’m cheap. I don’t like to pay a lot of money for something that is going to be destroyed in seconds. I decided to make one, which was maybe one of my better decisions involving the party. It was not easy or quick – in fact it was rather difficult and time-consuming – but it cost me only a few dollars to make (not including the candy/filler) and it was definitely a conversation piece.
I spent most of the two weeks prior to the park doing uneventful party supply shopping. I told myself I was comparing prices but really I was wasting time. I was getting increasingly frustrated with everything. My house was getting messier even though I was constantly cleaning. I felt like no one was going to even come to the party because not many people had RSVP’d. I called my husband several times threatening to give up on the party altogether and cancel it.
On the day before the party I was feeling the crunch. I went from store to store trying to pick up loose ends, but still managed not to get enough done. That night I cleaned my house top to bottom and baked the cake and cupcakes, leaving them to be frosted the morning of the party. I fell asleep around 3:00am, mostly from exhaustion.
Then came the party day. There was still so much to be done. I hadn’t even gone shopping for party food, and my husband had made plans to take the dog to the vet so he was not going to be much good for me. I knew that it wasn’t going to be good when I was still running errands at 1:30pm for a 3:00pm party.
Several of my friends came over around 2:00pm to help me get ready, but we were still cooking, prepping and frosting when the guests arrived. It was a disaster. My husband started grilling hot dogs for the hot dog bar, and was serving them up to the guests before I even had the toppings set out. I was getting frustrated, and embarrassed for people to see how unorganized I really am. The party was ruined in my mind.
I thought I had started to pull it together a bit, but then when it was time for cake, I found myself trying to get the high chair banner put together at the last minute. Another thing I had forgotten. I ended up having to tape it up behind him as he destroyed his little cake. Of course then we had the pinata that everyone loved. It was my high point. In the end I survived the party and it seemed like the guests had a good time. It wasn’t perfect, but I’m pretty sure nothing I ever do is. At least it was pretty memorable. For me, anyway.
What’s your party planning style? Do you get all of the details done or are you more of the throw-it-together type?