Oh yeah, my twin boys turned four last month. This whole year I’ve done an experiment where I’ve tried to put less effort into hosting and holidays. Trying to take it down a notch and rediscover the true meaning of Christmas or whatever. I’ve had some wins like the Easter Seder, but some of the lower key hosting has bummed me out. It wasn’t as bad as the year of missed holidays on bedrest. EEEK!! But let’s take this party for the boys’ fourth birthday for example.
I barely decorated. I put up 30 balloons, 480 feet of flagged banner on the fences, and a patriotic bow on the door. I made zero gift bags. We had the party at home. I made homemade pizza, strawberry balsamic salad, cupcakes, key lime pie, and ice cream sundaes. Easy stuff, no cake, just vanilla-vanilla cupcakes with sprinkles. I gave out water bottles with no specially printed wrappers or color-coordinated straws. Kent did a great job leading the kids in superhero training and competition. Me? I barely filled one bucket of water balloons.
So was it the best party I’ve ever had because I got to sit back and watch the kids have fun or talk to my friends? Hm. I did enjoy both of those things, but I usually get to do that at the over-the-top parties, too. I would have thought the lead up to the party would be much less stressful than usual, but it wasn’t. I was still anxious about the party during the planning stage, and then on the day, I really didn’t enjoy it as much. I missed the spectacle. I missed the pageantry. It reminded me of when I once saw Carmen in Odessa wherein not even the glorious opera house or the very fine singing (in Russian) could entirely eclipse the shabby sets and brought-from-home costumes. It just wasn’t the same.
I assumed things like thematic decorations and fancy cakes were expendable because they were there primarily to impress the other kids’ moms, not for the enjoyment of the kids who truly didn’t notice at age 1, 2 or 3–except little Flufferella who got the whole thematic party thing at year 3 and was way into it by year 4. But it turns out that was wrongheaded. Thematic decorations and fancy cakes even when the kids were too young to appreciate them were primarily there for me! I enjoy them. I get abiding gratification from hosting a well-planned party. Hosting a mediocre one just feels like work.
I have enjoyed many, many a low key party when I’m not the one in charge. Love it! But when it’s my responsibility, I think I actually have to move the needle closer to over-the-top to really dig it. I’m not trying to persuade anyone here that my way is the right way. I don’t even think that. I have surveyed with envy how some of my laid-back friends have enjoyed hosting laid-back parties and thought, “Maybe I could be zen like that, too.” So I tried. Perhaps with the requisite amount of solitary meditation or pharmaceuticals or both, someday I could be different, but this year it didn’t work for me. Good enough just wasn’t.
Next year Salty and Peppers are getting the works. Maybe by then we’ll have a patio? Patio or no, we are having a big, fat, color-coordinated to do in their honor. Cupcake picks, spherical moon cake, monogrammed towels in the swag bag–whatever is in next year. And yes, this fall I’ll be braving the wind and weather to do some lavish thing at Cox Farms for Flufferton. Turns out, I still enjoy hosting Pintresting parties.