When is comes to entertaining, I am a walking contradiction. One the one hand, I’ve been a project manager and event planner for many years and I can run a party like a Broadway stage manager runs a show–there is always enough food, the time flow always works, and I smooth over mistakes or upsets without getting flustered. On the other hand, I have no patience for creative details so I suck at themes, party crafts for kids, decorations, or homemade anything. If you end up at a party I’ve planned, you will enjoy yourself, but there will be nothing Pinterest worthy about the experience. I like to think of my approach as old school, but it’s probably more that I’m a slacker.
I recently pulled together one of my signature casual get-togethers for my baby’s first birthday and, if I do say myself, it was a total success. It was a backyard barbeque for about 20 people. My main goal was to celebrate my girl’s special milestone by hanging out with friends. The memory I wanted to have of this day was happy kids playing while adults chatted. I didn’t want to recall being stressed out or sweating details of cake pops or custom decorations or fancy party favors. That’s not fun for me. And let’s face it, first birthday parties? Are all about what the mom is into.
I’m going to share with you my secrets for throwing a great first birthday party that involves virtually no stress!
Three weeks before party: See a slip’n'slide at Costco and think it would be prefect for that party you’ve been thinking of for the baby. Purchase slip’n'slide. While you’re thinking about it, sit in your car in the parking lot and email people to tell them they’re invited. Invite primarily families of friends of older child who also have younger siblings.
Spend the next two and a half weeks not thinking about the party at all.
Three days before party: Check weather forecast and note rain is not predicted for party day.
One day before party: Send a reminder email to guests.
Three hours before party: Go to grocery store and purchase hotdogs, bratwurst, buns, condiments, watermelon, soft drinks and juice boxes, chips, cupcakes and paper plates. Also, paper towels.
Two hours before party: Send husband out for beer and ice. Set food and plates out on deck table.
One hour before party: Have husband mow lawn. Set up slip’n'slide and allow older child to test it. Hook iPad up for music. Take pictures of kids playing on slip’n'slide together.
During party: Eat, drink, enjoy the company of guests, make sure kids eat something other than cupcakes, admire oldest child in one family who voluntarily supervises four 5-year-olds in the playroom, direct other parents to diaper changing areas inside, laugh plentifully.
After party: Toss or recycle items as appropriate. Put kids to bed. Drink leftover beer.
That’s it. Food, drinks, friends. I wasn’t frazzled or exhausted at the end of it and everyone went home with a smile and a full stomach and my baby felt adored the whole time. A perfect first birthday party, if you ask me!