Kid's Birthday Parties: The Lazy Edition

This is me taking a break from frantically cleaning my house for Phaedra's first-ever kid's birthday party.  This year, when  we started mentioning her birthday, she was all, "Can I have a birthday party and invite my friends from school?"  And I was all, "Yeah! We can invite ALL our friends, and have soda and pie!"  And she was all, "What?  I don't want pie, I want CAKE, and I'm not even allowed to drink soda!"  Good God.  It's like she doesn't even make an effort to get any of my cultural references, yet I can sing the theme song to Martha Speaks! like a boss.  MAKE AN EFFORT, KID.

                                                                                                 Flicks News
I hope no bad people show up.

Anyways, per usual, I'm putting a high amount of half-assery into this party.  Between work, husband's work, husband's school, three kids, an infant, baking cookies for school treats, ballet, and aaaaaaaargh, I am severely strapped for fucks to give.  However, considering that I'm about to have a house full of strange five year olds and their accompanying (and equally strange, FYI) parents, I should probably keep the half-assery under the radar.  So here's a list of ways I have cut corners in terms of cost and effort (but not coolness) for this party:

1) Semi-decorated cake: For about ten months now, Phaedra has been describing her ideal birthday cake to me in intricate detail: pink, with streamers (?), a varying list of Disney princesses in attendance, and a castle on top.  Last week, I made the mistake of confirming what her cake should look like while she was watching an episode of The Powerpuff Girls.  "I want a Powerpuff Girls cake!"

"Are you sure, because you've been talking about a princess cake for awh..."

"I WANT A POWERPUFF GIRLS CAKE!"

Duly noted.

So, I don't know if you've priced made-to-order decorated cakes lately, but news flash!: they're pricey.  And, strangely enough, there's not a booming business going on cake decorations for late-90s cartoon characters.  Go figure.  The only ones I could find were stupid expensive and, honestly, looked like they were made by someone who had never actually seen an episode of the Powerpuff Girls, but had just went off a description someone else gave them, kind of like a police sketch artist.  Additionally, I am not game for baking my own cake for this event.  What it basically boils down to is either clean the house, or bake a cake.  And while I'm not necessarily trying to impress anyone, I'm also not willing to explain to people where the paths are through the toys so no one breaks an ankle.

So, here's what I did:  I bought a cake at Meijer.  Half sheet or whatever, the one that's not too big, but not too small.  Pink piping around the edges, which I'm assuming is what she means by "streamers".  It even has birthday balloons.  GOOD.  I printed off pictures of the Powerpuff Girls, cut them out, glued them to toothpicks, and I'm putting those bad boys onto the cake.  DONE.  The best part?  They're going to look like they're flying.  BOOM!

Suck on that, Pinterest.

2.  Goodie bags: Until my mother-in-law mentioned these to me, I completely forgot that such a thing existed.  So, it's basically like a miniature trick-or-treat bag that you get to take home with you from the birthday party, right?  So, if you've got a shit-ton of Easter candy left over that everyone has forgotten about, why buy more candy?  So get ready for lots of egg-shaped candy, kiddos!  For consistency's sake, however, I did invest in a $3.69 jumbo box of Little Debbie's Cosmic Brownies, so each kid does get one nice-size treat.  
 
In addition, although I do have princess-themed store-bought goodie bags to use, if I run out or the boys protest, I have a back-up goodie bag plan: we're making paper-bag puppets!  And guess what those puppets are hungry for?  STALE CANDY!!!
 
3.  Decorations: Listen, by the time you've had three kids, if you don't have at least three different colors of streamers hanging around your house, ur doing it wrong.  I bought a $2.00 bag of pink balloons to hang on the lightpost outside, and the rest are for kids to blow up and goof around with.  I'm not messing with any helium balloons that are going to just start losing air in a few days and start stalking me around the house floating at eye level.  Shit creeps me out.
 
                           Ann Arbor Mom Blog
Seriously, fuck off, ghost balloon.

4.  Cleaning: One of the perks of hosting an event is that for a few days afterward, your house is ultra-clean.  The drawback to this is that you have to actually do the cleaning.  However, there are a few ways to cut corners if, like me, you find yourself with a sink full of dirty Tupperware twenty minutes before guests are arriving.  I have perfected the art of camouflage cleaning.  This is very similar to that old "shove everything under your bed" trick that kids in movies always use.  Actually, it is exactly the same.  Basically, you take your dirty shit and hide it in something.  For example, in about an hour I am going to take every single dirty dish left in my sink and put them in my dishwasher.  Hear me when I say "put them in my dishwasher".  I'm not going to load my dishwasher; I'm going to shove it so full that the first unsuspecting guest that opens it will most likely earn themselves a broken toe.  Dirty pans?  That's what your oven is for. Voila!  Your kitchen is clean!

5.  Cut the guest list: I have witnessed parents at preschool stand at the end of the pickup line and hand an invitation to every single kid that comes through.  There are thirty kids in Phaedra's preschool class.  Are you seriously telling me that these people are hosting thirty kids at their house?  Or, worse yet, paying for thirty kids and their accompanying parents to eat at some dumb kid's birthday party joint?  FUCK THAT NOISE.  We invited ten kids, threw the invitations in their cubby so as to be discreet, and called it a day.  If five show up, great.  All ten?  SUPER.  This whole "invite the whole class!" stuff is where all that entitled, "everybody wins!" crap starts.  Guess what, kids?  You don't always get the golden ticket.  That's life.  Did I just call an invitation to my kid's birthday party a "golden ticket"?  You bet your ass I did.  I mean, you heard about the Powerpuff Girls cake, right?

So there's my advice on how to throw an undercover cheap & easy kid's birthday party.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some toys to go stuff under my couch.

Janel Mills is a librarian raising three girls with her beardedly gifted husband.  She writes at her blog 649.133: Girls, the Care and Raising Of.

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