It’s your child’s birthday tomorrow. You’ve been prepping for weeks. You’ve spent a small fortune on gifts, the cake, the decorations, the activities; maybe even the venue and entertainment. As soon as this party has finished, you’ll begin pinning extravagant ideas on Pinterest for next year’s party. You only have 364 days to prepare, after all.
As much as I love Pinterest (as well as looking at the gorgeous, meticulously executed parties), there is a dark side. You know the one…the temptation to strive for Pinterest perfection. To impress. To go bigger and better each year in order to top the previous year.
Over the last couple of years I’ve chosen to reject the Pinterest perfect birthday party. Don’t get me wrong. I love preparing for a special party. I love pretty party things and making people feel welcome. But as far as all of the paraphernalia of a Pinterest perfect party, I’ve decided to say no.
I don’t have to do these things to feel accepted, loved, and worthy.
I don’t have to do these things for my children to feel accepted, loved and worthy.
I love Pinterest for ideas and for browsing, but it’s a slippery slope when it comes to the expectations that we place upon ourselves.
Just this past week I visited Pinterest. It was our eldest daughter’s 6th birthday. I searched for “simple birthday cakes”.
Ha! Simple and Pinterest do not go hand in hand.
Nothing is simple in the world of Pinterest. Nevertheless, I came away with some inspiration minus a few cake toppers and squirty dollops (I have no idea what those pretty little twirly blobs of icing are called). I would be wearing our 4 month old while creating my masterpiece, so simple was essential.
Simple but special.
How do I make a simple birthday party special? By speaking to my daughter. This is essential. Ask the birthday person what they would like to have at a birthday party and what is important to them.
Find out what THEY want for THEIR party.
Here is our daughter’s list of what would make her party special. These ingredients of a special party can be done as elaborately or as simply as desired. Simple for us equates to minimal prep work and minimal expenditure. Money and time are hard to come by with a six year old, three year old and four month old (with a healthy dose of sleep deprivation slathered on top).
She very carefully handpicked a few of her closest little friends.
She and her Dad love making gorgeous invitations. We have a collection of them over the years.
No celebration is complete without a cake, candles and singing “Happy Birthday”.
Things to do
Our daughter wants to make sure “everyone feels happy and has fun without feeling shy.”
“But no balloons because they might pop.”
Thank you bags
Possibly her favourite part. She loves putting little treats into bags to give her friends.
Seven things. All of which can be done fairly simply.
This year I kept each request super simple. For example, our decorations were simply a gold bunting, bought from Spotlight, not even homemade like other years. And a bunting for the front door, that took five minutes to cut out and string together. Indigo (our daughter) decorated it with “6’s”. Decorations done.
The cake, again, super simple. She chose yellow. Spending hours colouring and rolling out icing fondant and making tiny cake topping figurines sounds like a nightmare to me. I love other creative ventures, but not this. So I want pretty but basic. Here’s all we did….easy, looks ok and tasted delicious.
Food was pretty simple. I only baked a few things in the days prior to the party. Vegan sausage rolls, choc chip cookies, oat cookies and the cake itself. A lovely friend also gave us a couple of plates of delicious chia chocolate cupcakes and lemon cupcakes. The rest was store bought; things like fruit, popcorn, biscuits, crackers and such. I spent barely any time in the kitchen preparing. Other years I have gone all out with prepared lists of what to make on what days leading up to the big day. There will be a time in future years to do this again, if that’s how I choose to spend my time.
Finding things for kids to do at parties can be as elaborate, expensive or as simple as you like. I get tempted here to create unique and amazing activities for each guest, but I kept it simple. Two activities that kids could do, or not. Unlike the pressure of party games, it was up to them. Wand making and rainbow twirling ribbons (coloured ribbons tied on to a ring, such as a child’s plastic bangle). Minimal prep required.
Thank you bags. I almost always consider skipping them, but our daughter adores giving her friends a token of her love and appreciation. We kept them pretty inexpensive and basic. One year, when I have more time, I’d love to make little wooden tic tac toe games or hand make a little take home craft activity.
But this year we just included some classic favourites…tattoos, glow in the dark wall decorations, a heart ring, a “stick to any surface” snake and some lollies.
Every step of the way I was consciously rejecting images of Pinterest perfect parties. There’s no denying they are beautiful and impressive and snap worthy. But, to pull off such an extravaganza, there would be sacrifices. There would be stress. There would be pressure. There would be frustration felt toward my kids who wouldn’t share the goal of creating a Pinterest perfect party. There would be late nights. It would not be worth it. This was my first reason to reject the whole Pinterest perfect party.
My second reason. These kind of parties tend to feed into a certain mentality and subculture.
A subculture that:
* Promotes comparison between one another.
* Breeds competition.
* Runs the risk of focusing on the more superficial aspects of a celebration.
* Doesn’t foster transparency between people.
* Doesn’t encourage people to see “us”; our real selves; us with our families.
* Makes every successive party harder to “beat.”
It is very possible to have a gorgeous celebration with all of the Pinterest worthy additions. If you are able to hire a coordinator without having to sacrifice eating for the next month. Or if time permits. Or if this is how you enjoy spending your time.
Impressing people and sacrificing my sanity, time and happiness to meet the unrealistic expectations that Pinterest creates is why I have chosen to say no to the Pinterest perfect party. I want to invite people into my home and into my life. I want to seek out meaningful connections, to be real and natural, and to enjoy friendships of substance.
So, here’s to enjoying special but simple parties, that can still look a little bit pretty.