My beautiful baby girl, just a few hours after her birth.
My baby will be 5 on Thursday, 5! How can that be? It seems like I just had her. I think that’s what chronic sleeplessness does to you, distorts time and makes you forget so much of the hard stuff
Now that she’s becoming a “big girl,” we agreed to throw her a big girl birthday party, one where she invites her friends and classmates. I know I am preaching to the choir here, but parties have changed a lot since I was a kid. There was a time when my mom invited the neighbor kids and my aunt and uncle over for cake and ice cream. That was it, no big production, no gift bags for guests. Just a gift or two and a homemade sheet cake. After the dishes were done, so was your birthday. But no more.
I gave Bodacious the same choice my parents gave me when I got married: cash or a dream reception. She could have her dream party, or she could have the two expensive gifts she wanted. That’s right – she could have a pink princess bike AND the Barbie Dreamhouse or she could have a Pinterest-worthy Valentine’s Day and Unicorns tea party. Like mother, like daughter, she chose the party.
As my online ordering reached a fevered pitch, I decided to revisit the $300 budget I had set for myself. Man. That was already gone on decorations, games and unicorn favors. I didn’t even have the cake or the food or the invitations and postage paid for yet. Feather boas and top hats aren’t as cheap as they used to be, even from Oriental Trading! I turned an unflinching eye to my menu. I needed cookie cutters in the shapes of flowers and hearts for pb&j sandwiches and pretty cheese tulips. I needed candy for kabobs, pink lemonade, raspberry tea, pink popcorn, fruit with crème fraiche, scones, a craft station and a croquet set – preferably one that looked like it was made from pink flamingoes. I still needed a cake and would have to do the set up and food myself. Having a house full of children and parents that I don’t know was starting to make we want to hide. Would I need to set the breakfast room up as an adult lounge with snacks and drinks?
I was talking about it to my girlfriend Ginger Spice, our girls are about the same age. She only does family birthday parties for her children. “I grew up in a house where everything was a production. My mother threw huge parties for me every year. I don’t remember a single one, but I do remember how stressful they were for me,” she told me.
As my party expectations piled up, I told myself that I was not spending $500 on a 5-year-old’s birthday party. Do you know what else I could do with $500? That’s about three full-on hair appointments with cut, color and blowout. That’s a full round of Botox and a smoothie to make me feel better. That’s a fabulous meal and wine with my Spice Girls in Vegas, school clothes for both kids. Or a new rug for my dining room. That’s a month’s worth of meals for a family! Time to rethink this party plan.
So I scrapped the tea party at home idea. Too much work, too much expense. I booked a party at a local venue where the employees help with the set up and entertaining. All I have to do is bring the cake. I found $8 invitations on Etsy and printed them at Staples. I bought envelopes for $4 and spent $5 on postage. I am returning most of the decorations we got and I am using the favors as Valentines for Bodacious to pass out at school. I’ll give the candy kabobs out at the party as favors for the guests. I haven’t totaled everything up yet, but I think I am a lot closer to my original budget.
Now, who knows where I can find a cut rate Barbie Dreamhouse?