So, if you’re wondering where I’ve been since Mason’s 1st birthday party, you don’t have to look far.
I’m that crumpled mound of bruised flesh and sore bones laying next to seven bags of used wrapping paper in the garage, collected and neglected from January.
I gave you guys a bit of a sneak-preview and Mason’s Top 5 Gift Wish List, but I didn’t really give you the full monty. I didn’t give you the complete description of how the day of a 1st birthday party really goes down.
Because for us, of all the birthdays out there, the 1st birthday party is exceptionally special. It’s because it’s even more for the parents than it is for the kid.
There, I said it.
The 1st birthday party is a rite of passage for mom and dad–you’ve made it through the tumultuous first year, through sleepless nights, teething, crawling and walking. You’ve gotten to the finish line of that all-important first year of life and now it’s time to celebrate.
As I mentioned before, each year my wife and I start out by telling each other that ‘this year will be different’ and ‘we’re not going to run around with our hair on fire five minutes before everyone gets here’, etc. You know the drill.
We always convince ourselves that having it at home will be ‘fun’ and ‘inexpensive’–but still special. We have grandiose visions of making party favors with left-over wedding chiffon from seven years ago and inventing Pinterest-worthy snacks, using our homespun version of ‘pantry challenge’. This only partially happens.
So I may have just told a lie… the birthday party chaos and mad-dash prep doesn’t exactly occur ONLY on the special day.
In fact, it starts about a week before.
I walk around the house with my hands on my hips, sighing deeply, first taking survey of the downstairs.
I pull together the goo-gone, which will help me remove dried boogers and partially regurgitated gummi snacks from the walls. I take the safety guards off of my razor blade scrapers and get them primed to gouge at Thomas the Train stickers that adorn our once-pristine hardwood floors. I bust out a few small baggies and antiseptic wipes, as I explore the corners of the living room and kitchen area, trying to figure out where the dog decided to take a shit in the middle of the night because there’s two feet of snow outside and he has no where to go.
I spend about six hours trying to make my kids return every action-figure, Shopkin and blind bag ‘small’ into their properly labeled bin in the play room. This mostly backfires as for every toy we put away, they’ve discovered another, different toy that they’ve been neglecting and drag that back into the mess.
I then attempt to clear the double sink of cast-iron skillets shellacked with burnt cheese and alfredo sauce, use a shovel to collect the crumbs under the toaster and a crowbar to pop my wife’s coffee stirring spoons off the counter at the latte station.
I take a strong look at my wife’s party plan–that’s right, a plan. For Mason’s 1st, it’s the classic theme “We’re Going On a Bear Hunt.” She’s planned a ball pit full of “thick oozy mud,”a “swirling, whirling snowstorm of toys” and a “deep cold river” of tunnels. All through our living room.
Once I consult the plan and gut the living room, I head upstairs to examine the carnage.
Normally I’d tell my wife that there’s ‘absolutely no way in hell anyone is going upstairs’, which sounds great in theory, however, you’ve always got a ‘crazy little Suzy’ (rogue toddler) that doesn’t understand the concept behind why I created a jacket mound on the steps (blocking off entry to the upstairs) and climbs over it like it’s some sort of game show physical challenge, with her somewhat conservative parents, chasing in tow.
I mean, let’s be honest, I don’t need everyone upstairs taking a gander at my laundry operation. Yes, there are like 12 loads in various states of completion between the bedrooms and the laundry room. I’ve got an entire fashion district lying around, covered in crusty, dried poop and vegetable puree. I ran out of Shout and I’m honestly too tired and not crafty enough to whip up my own organic stain remover in all my spare time.
I don’t need kids going upstairs and pulling condoms from 2005 out of my nightstand or sifting through my wife’s dusty lingerie drawer (she’s gonna be pissed at me for that one, you guys) using g-strings as slingshots.
But you have to prepare for this, because it will happen.
There’s always a parent that pulls me aside and says “Hey, is it cool if I use the bathroom upstairs?”
Dude. I know what that means. No! It’s not cool! Why didn’t you blow up your own bathroom up before you drove over here? Jesus.
And once you’ve got the house in some state of acceptable presentation, you’ve got to figure out a party bag. A giveaway. The entire reason that everyone talked themselves into driving over to your stupid house during a Sunday afternoon playoff game.
It’s the pay off.
The kids LOVE these bags with their names on them. I remember very little of this when I was a young. You went to the party to rough-house, punch other kids, possibly tear a hole in your new corduroys and maybe eat some cake. And sometimes–very rarely–you’d walk out with a goodie bag filled with some gum, a spin top and Pixie Stix. This was the holy grail.
My wife remembers these bags so fondly…. in fact, in our house 1st birthday party goodie bags have become akin to the Academy Awards. She puts together swag bags, not goodie bags. And they’re pretty sweet.
Anyway, this is the preparation that goes into the ‘fun’ and ‘inexpensive’ birthday party at home.
Why didn’t I just rent out the bounce palace warehouse for an hour, toss everyone some lollipops and call it a day?
Because. Because I wouldn’t get to tell you this fun little story and bitch about stuff.
In all honesty, we had a great time at Mason’s 1st birthday party. And I had some amazing help from a few companies that have been so very good to us over the years.
If you’re EVER in the Gaithersburg area of Maryland or have friends that live in or around here, talk to them about Kristen at Lilly Magilly’s Cup Cakery.
Kristen has been making our cakes since we moved here from Los Angeles. In fact, one of Ava’s birthday cakes is on display behind the counter at her store – it was THAT good. Kristen came through (she’s a recently minted mommy for the second time btw) with an incredible bear-themed smash cake, as well as cupcakes to match. Just amazing – and delicious.
And those great little party bags? We decided on boxes this year.
A HUGE THANKS to our friends at Build-a-Bear for sending a bear and a gift card to each of the kids at the party… also a thanks to Jamie Rae Hats, Swaddle Designs and Manhattan Toy Company for not only contributing to an incredible gift box, but for allowing me to GIVE ONE AWAY.
Take a minute, visit some of these sites, enter the raffle below and honestly – think about how much laundry I had to do so that that guy could go upstairs and take a crap.
Happy 1st birthday to your little ones! a Rafflecopter giveaway