For my girls’ birthdays this past year they invited a small crew of friends out to a “fancy” dinner and lunch respectively, while their parents (aka the bill-payers) sat a few tables away, removed from the action. It’s a far cry from the first decade-plus of their lives, when parties were mostly at home, carefully themed, and usually resulted in mom or dad — or both — short-circuiting. For those of you who have read the birthday party chapter in my book, you know the end of the story. Somehow, as soon as the final guest would depart, all that anxiety would be replaced by a very particular post-party high, that feeling you get as a parent when you realize you’ve made your kid extremely happy, magnified by the whole joyful birthday vibe, and, well I’ll say this: It feels good. (Maybe the proper analogy here might be the one about banging your head against a wall because you know how nice it will feel when you stop. ) Anyway, in the book, I explain a pretty cool strategy to get yourself through any themed party with minimal nerve damage: Break the two hours into six 20-minute blocks. To illustrate what this looks like, Food Network photographed one of my half-dozen themes, an “Almost” Sleepover Party, where kids dress in pajamas, bring their sleeping bags, but don’t actually sleep over. (This is perfect for kindergarteners, first and second graders.) Check it out if you’re in the market for party ideas, including some pretty freaking adorable pigs- and beans-in-blankets. (Get it?)
Pictured: Phoebe’s handmade invitation, circa 2007; Photo by Chelsea Cavanaugh for How to Celebrate Everything.