Oops, I did it again - planned a party whose scope was well beyond the time I had to execute it to the level at which I envisioned. I mean, all mothers want the coolest, most exotic, and out-of-the box party theme that time and money can muster, but how much is too much? Do we mothers even get to enjoy the party after being so exhausted from making sure it's perfect for the kids who are too young to even know what's happening?
Regardless of the fact that my own personality is my own worst enemy, I was able to pull off my Cookie Party Birthday Bash - a combined birthday party for my two June littles. (And no, I don't think that combining kids' birthday parties is a cop out of any sort... it's just courteous time management for all of those invited).
The first step in planning a successful combined party is to keep in mind the differences in the children and to select a theme that makes sense for both. My children are both boys, and cookies are timeless, ageless, and genderless. The problem? Not one cookie-themed-party-related item existed on Amazon.com... and so I turned to my own computer, my printer, and Etsy.
In futile efforts to save some money on this year's gathering, I created a Facebook page and an emailable birthday invitation. Stamps - who needs them? Everyone is on social media these days. I mean, why pay 49 cents per invitation (plus printing costs) just to have some angry bald guy crumple it up as he begrudgingly stuffs it into a mailbox in a very untimely and unreliable manner? (Oh wait, that's just my mailman...)
As for the main attraction - the cookies - well, as the time drew nearer, and my free time grew smaller, I toyed with the idea of buying cookies from the bakery instead of making them from scratch. OOH - the amount of SH$% I got from my husband about that... even though he had NO intention of making any himself. Guilt or no guilt, I never want to disappoint so there I was... slaving away in a cookie-baking sweatshop hell (in the heat of the summer, mind you) of my own Type A making. What had I gotten myself into?
Five kinds of cookies later (some double batches, mind you)... my freezer was busting at the seams with full-on Type 2 diabetes. The sad thing is, that wasn't the hardest part. I needed to come up with party favors and decorations that not only matched my theme but my color scheme as well.
Because it's the adults who suffer through kids' birthday parties as much as the children, it was only fitting to give out adult favors to show my appreciation. What's a better favor than a jar full of homemade cookies? A jar full of homemade cookies with custom theming, hand made by the hostess, of course.
I found a perfectly coordinating ribbon at Michaels, and the rest I hand made and cut out. As for kids' favors, well, I knew I didn't want to send already sugared-up children home with more sugar... the parents wouldn't ever bring them back. So... I found some great little "felties" (small 1" diameter felt cookies) on Etsy that I put into custom themed take-out boxes also from Michaels.
The entry table featured a custom sign (made by me), coordinating balloons (ordered from Amazon), the favors, the custom cookies I ordered from the wonderful owner, Colleen, over at Eileen's Colossal Cookies, and little Starry String Lights from Restoration Hardware (which, by the way, are great for using to decorate for any party).
Each side of the main food/cookie area was flanked by a cookie jar themed for each of my children. These amazing cut-outs (the names, the cookies with letters, the happy birthday sign, the centerpiece cookies and milk) were custom made by The Sutton Company on Etsy (and were very, very affordable).
All of the little confetti cutouts of cookies and my boys' names and their ages, were done by me with a lovely side effect of hand cramping. Note to self - invest in a circle cutter. The last thing I'd like to mention is that if you're throwing a cookie party, it's only standard procedure to provide recipe cards for all of the homemade cookies so when someone asks you for the recipe for the cookies you slaved so hard over... you'll have them right on hand... (and you can also use them as decor).
As for dinner, I put my husband to work grilling burgers and hot dogs for which I had all guests pre-RSVP for so I knew what to buy. Party spreadsheet? No, that doesn't sound like me at all... Grilled meats, my mom's famous potato salad, fresh fruit, individual bags of assorted chips, and cookies - so many cookies = dining success. The food was enjoyed by all, but the flaw in planning a grill party is the unpredictability of the weather... but this year, we actually lucked out.
In my haste, I forgot to photograph the napkins and silverware that I painstakingly gathered into a bunch, accordion folded the napkins, and wrapped with that nice brown and blue ribbon because when you're serving buffet style, who has enough hands to grab a plate, a beverage, AND a napkin AND silverware? I mean, that's just inconceivable.
(... yeah, that's a cookie barrette in my hair, and there's a milk one there too... somewhere.)
Was the party a success? Yes. Was I exhausted? Yes, my feet and legs throbbed. Was my 4-year-old sweaty and sugared up? Yes. Did my 1-year-old sleep and cry through it all? Yes. Do I have regrets? Not a one... but next time, I'm having it catered!
Special Thanks to:
#birthday #parties #homemade #custom #typea
For more obsessive type a backstory...
Let's be realistic here... as mothers (or parents in general), we have so many wonderful, elaborate ideas that we wish would manifest themselves from idea to reality with the wave of a magic wand, but unfortunately, real life is not so accommodating. I recently spoke to one mother of four who said that when she had "only" two children was able to create custom parties, write in her blog, do things she liked to do. However, with a guilty tone in her message, she confessed that her parties now consist mostly of store-bought generic items, and she no longer has time to do any side projects that she enjoys or takes pride in - like blogging.
As I'm coming to realize, being able to OCD my way to the perfect custom party, a meticulously clean house, or having perfectly groomed children is becoming harder and harder to facilitate with work and life running at full speed in the background...
What I want: The perfect Pinterest-worthy, custom-themed birthday party
What I can manage: 95% homemade and custom with 5% generic and store bought - ooh - I was so close!
What I want: A home that sparkles - no clothes strewn about, no stray toys, and not a speck of dust to be seen
What I can manage: Vacuuming once a week, dusting once every other week, grabbing small tufts of cat hair out of my baby's hand before it reaches his mouth, and tolerating a few straggler toys that always manage to be underfoot when I'm in a hurry.
What I want: To be able to provide home-cooked, from scratch meals for my family every night of the week
What I can manage: 80% home-cooked, 10% takeout, 10% foraged items from the freezer
What I want: A perfectly orchestrated work/life/family balance
What I can manage: Organized chaos, Advil, and a glass of fruity, sparking wine
What I want: Happy children who love me unconditionally
What I can manage: Happy children who love me unconditionally
I know I obsess about everything, but obsessing over too many things you can't manage will drive you insane and make you a total witch with a capital "B". So, is it better to have perfection and to be a total witch, or is it better to strive for manageable and keep your wits and dignity about you? I think we all know the answer...
Don't worry if you don't have the time to make handmade decorations or if your floors have an unnaturally gritty and sticky texture... what matters most is what we should all strive to focus on - the happiness of our families, and the rest is just details.
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