Originally written for an Australian magazine by yours truly.
I’m hovering over roughly 40 empty party cups when the balloon banner falls down. Stupid gravity. There wasn’t gravity in the Pinterest picture of this. I’m juggling three kinds of berries and adding them into empty appetizer cups while my husband strolls by smiling and walking at a normal pace.
Doesn’t he know that the party is about to start in T-minus 62 minutes?!! I give him a mental karate chop to the jugular and continue in my frenzy.
My daughter comes running through the kitchen excitedly and eyes the cake like a salivating jaguar while I blurt out, “Don’t touch the cake!” I scream it out like someone told me, “The louder you scream, the safer it will be.” Whew, it’s definitely gonna be okay then.
Then, the worst thing happens. The worst thing of all party things: a knock at the door. Early guests! An hour early kind of guest! No wait, guests! Emphasis on the “s”. I contemplate running to the corner of the room to rock back and forth and drool on myself. I guess I should run to the bedroom and put something on other than my mother-in-law’s sweatpants. Maybe they will forget that the party is half done and the pajamas I was wearing while sweating over the salsa.
“Here, enjoy an appetizer cup with one blueberry in it. It’s all I could get in before the guest explosion of 2016.”
“Why is everyone here so early?”, I ask my husband’s family. And in slow motion I see the words forming in their mouths. No, no, no! Now, this is the worst of all party things!
“The invitation said 1-3,” they said in a Charlie Brown’s teacher voice.
I forgot to change it!!! Sweet mother of Martha Stewart, I forgot to change it. In my mind I vomit and reverse karate chop my husband’s jugular and spin around to instead slice the invitation with the wrong time. He never saw it coming. Now he knows how I feel about all of those guests he was just sending my way while I’m half-dressed in the kitchen struggling with tablecloths and tape . And by “he” I mean the invitation, of course. He offended me so then I got personal.
Well, ready or not, I guess the party is here and starting so I do the surprise guest clean up and stuff things in unsuspecting closets and drawers. I’m glad I usually have a messy house so I know just how to do the “Who the heck has the nerve to be at the door?!” panic clean up.
What I have will just have to work. Rest in peace cupcake toppers. So long you freakin’ bag tags. Here comes the party for better or worse.
The party rolls on and we all survive. The cupcakes were the wrong color and there may have been cat poop in the sandbox the kids played in but hey, that’s a risk you take when you play in large boxes of dig-able backyard goodness. You admit to yourself that no one cared that all the flowers you put on the back porch died approximately 2 seconds after you put them out. You know, I had to put out flowers because what 4 year- old doesn’t want flowers at their party? Yes, right after the request for a princess cake they say, “Oh, and beautiful flowers in lanterns on the back porch made of flowers you cut from a neighbor’s bush.” Man, I’m really glad she was down for that because that’s exactly where I got them.
People laugh, kids smile and your kid’s swear it was the best party ever. Your birthday girl runs inside with
cat poop sand in her hair, a laugh in her throat, and has icing in crevices you are sure to clean for a month. You high five yourself. You feel like the offspring of Rachael Ray and Nate Berkus.
You took 200 hundred pictures that you may never print out but you feel better for taking them. You hug your little rascals necks, tell them you love them and that you wanted everything to be perfect just for them. You hand out the favors and swear you will never do a party at home next year.
“Next year we will rent a party space,” you say.
“Next year we will buy a balloon banner,” you declare with authority.
But deep down you know you will be back on Etsy and Pinterest pinning your children-party loving brain out. Blasted creative juices, I curse your name.
Like every party, when it’s all said and done, you realize that it’s not always attention to detail that matters but attention to the personal: the cupcakes had glitter, the straws you used were a must, not because they matched, but because your 4 year-old loves a good slurp . Ultimately, parties are about the people you love so much that you spent 57 hours on the internet trying to find the right Frozen banner like every other mother on planet earth. You pay attention to details because you pay attention to people.
For every stressful moment you have trying to make a party they will remember, there is a little dog-eared girl or cape-wearing super hero boy that made it worth it.
It’s always a little crazy. You always spend more than you planned and next year, you’ll do it all again. Because for every piece of confetti you will never get out of your favorite wool rug, there is an even better memory you won’t get out of your mind…
Even if the party guests had the nerve to show up at the time on the invitation.