Stages of A Kid’s Birthday Party

I know: I owe you a week post. I’ll try my best to get it out tonight, but it might be delayed because I’m recovering from J’s party. I’ll also post some of our party craftiness. But for now, I was thinking today that all of our birthday party have similar stages. I’m wondering if anyone out there shares any of these stages? For me, they are:

1. Curiosity [c. 5 months to 2 months prior to birthday party]: Birthday parties are a big deal, and I’m always curious about what the girls will choose as a theme and whom they’ll invite. Hearing about party plans always gives me new insight into my kids’ mysterious social lives away from me.

2. Excitement [c. 3 months to 1 1/2 months prior to birthday party]: We come up with great, fun, interesting ideas, and go shopping for cool supplies.

3. Uneasiness [c. 2 months to 1 months prior to birthday party]: We’ve come up with too many ideas, doing everything will be challenging, the possible invitees I’ve pushed have been resisted. That’s okay. We’ll figure it out. Right?

4. Confidence [c. 1 months to 1 week prior to birthday party]: I’ve made lists, I’ve gathered supplies, I’m working the problem, this is going to be an awesome party!

5. Panic [c. 1 week to 2 days prior to birthday party]:  This is ridiculous. I can’t even get the freakin’ playroom clean. I can’t even keep the crap off of my dining room table. Whatever possessed me to agree to all of these fabulous snacks? Did I write Saturday or Sunday on the invitation? Why do I always plan too much? Why am I so stupid?

6. Efficiency [day before party]: I’ve done so much! The house is ready! 5 out of 12 items on my list are checked off. This is going to be great. I rock!

7. Calm before the storm [night before, morning of, party]:  Everything is manageable. We can do this. I should relax a little now.

8. Concern [5 to 1 hour before party]: Why was I so complacent? Why didn’t I wake up earlier? Why is there always that stupid thing that should have taken me 5 minutes to do that turns out to take 45 minutes? Oh no. . . .

9. Alternating Rage & Resignation [1 hour to 10 minutes before party]:

  • Rage— What the hell is wrong with everyone!?! How can Cute W manage to read the paper when I’m clearly grunting while moving furniture? Why can’t he do something useful? Wait, why is he vacuuming? Doesn’t he know that I just vacuumed that exact room? Is he crazy? Why can’t my family be more helpful? Why are my daughters trying to help!?! They’re making me crazy! EVERYONE IS MAKING ME CRAZY!!
  • Resignation–Okay, that’s not getting done, that’s clean enough, that I’m blowing off altogether. . . .

10. Bafflement: [ten minutes before the party]: Who the hell shows up ten minutes early for a party? Why the hell don’t I realize that someone always shows up ten minutes before the beginning of the stupid party!?!

11. Alternating Sheer Joy & Low-level Anxiety: [first hour of party]:

  • Joy–Yes, it all looks great, thank you. Oh, they’re so adorable together. So sweet! Me, too. Thank you!
  • Anxiety–is that child unhappy? Is everyone included? Do they really all want to freeze dance? Is she sad, or just shy?

12. Deep, Suppressed Rage [5 minutes, usually 2/3s of the way through the party]: Why can’t Sister 1 suck it up and let Birthday Sister 2 enjoy this party? Why is she such a pain in the neck?

13. Annoyance [Second hour of party]: When will these kids stop shrieking? Who knew that other children could be messier than my own? What child is offered mint chocolate chip or cookie dough ice cream and responds, “Do you have strawberry?” Are we almost done?

14. Impatience [Final 20 minutes]: Please let it end-Let-it-end-Let-it-end-LET-IT-END-LET-IT-END. . . . FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHEN ARE THESE PARENTS COMING BACK TO TAKE THEIR CHILDREN AWAY?!?!?

15. Joy [Last guest has left]: Hooray! We’re done! And, I so love my kids–even when they’re annoying, they’re annoying in their sweet, wonderful J & M ways, not like that one (or two or three) kid who is so annoying. Hey, this clean-up isn’t so bad. Wait, did she even touch that cupcake? How much ice cream is left?





  1. kaleena

    Some things I have to look forward to as I plan my Evey’s 5th birthday party (invites going out tomorrow or Tuesday). She’s in kindergarten, but with all the planning she has done herself, you’d think it was her sweet 16…..she has chosen a Halloween party.

    I have a question though… it wrong to start a party at my home, do food, cake, and gifts at my home, maybe a bit of play time, and then ask parents and kids to join us for roller skating at Rollerama? (if they want to) the rink is about a half mile from me. Rollerama doesn’t allow outside food (‘cept the cake) and Evey’s got her heart set on Halloween themed food and stuff, but wants to skate too. What do you think?

  2. Honestly, I think that roller skating for kindergarteners is ambitious. A lot of kids might not have tried it before, or they might not be too good at it, and they’d need help getting skates on, etc. So then you either have to take care of all of those guests, or you have to ask parents to stay, and then they might need to pay to skate, too, and if they’ve got little brothers/sisters along, then that’s a pain in the neck for the parents. I’d stick with home and Halloween-y, myself. And of course, you can add the optional post-party invite, but then what if you’re all tired and want to blow it off?

    I don’t know, that’s just me. Anybody else have opinions on this one?

  3. Heather

    Katie-You are hysterical (I mean that in a LOL kind of way)! But have to admit you have me slightly panicked about drop-off bday parties that are in my near future!
    (And also agree, as the parent of a kindergartener, roller skating would be a very ambitious bday party for that age group!)

  4. Meghan

    What about having the Halloween themed party at home and perhaps after go skating with a cousin or a close friend? That way its not overly crazy but she still gets to skate with a buddy. If its a family friend or family member the adults could even have a great time just hanging out around the rink.

  5. Cheri

    I just hope my kid wasn’t on the annoying list… Where are the pictures of the yummy treats you made because they were photo worthy!

  6. No, no, no, Cheri. Although, you know, there’s also that thing where, my kid is just annoying as the other kids, but at least I’m used to the ways in which she’s annoying, while all the other kids are annoying in new and challenging ways. . . . But she didn’t ask for the strawberry ice cream, if you were worried! And I’ve got pictures of the food coming. Since they’re Halloween-y items, I figure that I can milk them for all they’re worth!

    Meghan, that sounds like a good compromise.

    And Heather, they’re not that bad. Really, they go off and play on their own quite a bit, and you don’t have to feel like you should provide refreshments to the grown-ups, which is good, right?

  7. HollowSquirrel

    heeeelarious, K! As always! Glad the party is OVER and a success!! Strawberry ice cream? Seriously?

  8. Jen

    LOL… I have girls, a 2 year old and a 3 year old who will be 4 in December… you have me hysterical right now because I haven’t even had a “kid party” yet and I know I am going to go through those same steps! Debating on whether to start at the 4 year old b day or wait until 5 year old in kindergarten…..

  9. Erin

    So totally spot-on. I loved it. And agree that drop-off parties are not so bad – in many ways, dealing with the kids is easier without the added parent dynamic and it is way less stressful (for me at least) not to have to also feed/entertain a bunch of adults who I may or may not know particularly well…

  10. Thanks, Erin & Jen. And Jen, I’d base it on whether your child actually wants a party, which is usually based on whether they’ve been guests at parties before. If they don’t/haven’t, there’s no rush, really.

  11. Stephanie

    Pure awesomeness. One of my favorite posts ever (up there with the swimsuit-trying-on post and the St Patrick’s Day post…)

  12. Thanks, Stephanie! I’d forgotten the St. Pat’s Day one, but then I remembered—some commenter thought I didn’t like my kids enough–oy.

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