I Totally Suck at Birthday Parties, But My Kids Have No Idea


When it comes to planning my children’s birthday parties, I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants kind of girl. I’m high on ambition but short on time. I have a Pinterest board full of party ideas I’ve never used, and a binder’s worth of recipes I’ll never make. I’ve never been able to get my crap together early enough to order adorable Etsy invitations. I’ve never planned far enough in advance to order a professionally-decorated cake from a bakery. I don’t organize party games, and I don’t plan out a theme, unless you count “birthday” as a theme. In the past, I’ve forgotten to invite significant family members (you know who you are, and I am STILL sorry!), skipped having a party altogether, and neglected to buy birthday presents for my own children. (I mean, isn’t the party the present? Sort of?).

For the past few years, I’ve found myself facing each approaching birthday with no invitations written and no plan. The night before my daughters’ birthday party this summer, I ordered decorations for delivery from Target via Shipt. (Seriously, did you know you could do this? GAME CHANGER.). Yes, you read that correctly. I paid a stranger to buy birthday decorations and plastic Dollar Spot tiaras for my daughters for their third birthday. I have resigned myself to the fact that a well-thought-out birthday party just ain’t happenin’ at my house.

And speaking of my house, we’ve celebrated the majority of my children’s birthdays in our dining room. We drape streamers haphazardly from the corners of the ceiling and tape balloons to window ledges. And at the end of each party, I’ve landed on the couch in a heap of shredded wrapping paper and cake crumbs, sporting a three-day hangover that has nothing to do with booze. (Oh, how things have changed since college). We’ve had some parties at other places, but my slapdash style remains the same no matter the location. Thank goodness for dollar store balloons and Costco cake– both are cheap and easy to get on short notice. 

All hail the Costco birthday cake!

This year, my son requested a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese. There were about four other kids having birthday parties on the same day and time. Some of their parents had brought in their own decorations. At least one of those other children was wearing a personalized “Birthday Girl” T-shirt. We rolled in with the “harvest pumpkin” decorated Costco cake my son had selected, and nothing else. My son and his friends had an absolute blast, and no one seemed to notice the lack of party favors.

I know I’ll never be a Pinterest mom, and I’m in complete awe of those of you out there who are. But what I’m doing seems to be working, no matter how inadequate it feels to me. Either my children are all too young to notice how bad I am at planning these things, or they truly don’t care. Whichever it is, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it stays like this forever. Whether we have a small group for dinner and cake at the local pizza joint, or a big blowout group of family and friends at my house, my kids know that their birthday is special, and they are loved. And after almost every party, I’ve heard those magic words: “Mommy, today was the best day EVER.”


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