Alexander turned 3 on Saturday and we had a party with family and friends to celebrate! I don’t know about you, but parenting in the age of social media can be tough. Everything seems to be a comparison game (even when you don’t intend for it to be), and it’s really easy to slip into over-complicating events. Some moms love to bake and decorate and plan- I am just not one of them!

This year I made a promise to myself to keep Alexander’s birthday low key so I could actually have fun with him, and not be so stressed out when the party actually arrives that I can’t enjoy it. Here are a few tips I employed to help rein myself in:

  1. Ditch the paper invites. This year I opted for a good ‘ol Facebook event invitation online. Yes, I LOVE paper invitations, but free time was nonexistent this year and this was the first thing to go.
  2. Skip the food and prioritize the cake. Trying to figure out food for 30 kids AND their parents seemed pointless, so I just opted to grab a really tasty cake from a bakery I LOVE instead. (Good cake is never underappreciated. Also, you don’t have to bake. Or clean a kitchen post-baking.)
  3. DON’T HAVE IT AT HOME. Cleaning your house before and picking up after an event is ridiculous. If you don’t want to rent a space (some kid event spaces will give you your own area for the price of admission), go to a park! That leads me to my next tip…
  4. Give them space to run and play. Kids need to burn energy and I knew that trying to keep them cooped up inside would result in shenanigans. I rented a bouncy castle and placed it next to the jungle gym. This allowed them to run around and be crazy- but still allowed them to stay close enough for parents to chat while keeping an eye on their littles.
  5. Bubbles make everything better. I pulled out this simple battery powered bubble machine and the kids FLIPPED OUT. It’s only $15 for the machine and the bubbles!!
  6. No party favors. I know, I know, but honestly- I don’t want to give more stuff to friends who I know are trying to keep their kids from becoming hoarders. That $1 trinket probably won’t matter. Also, favors for 30 kids of all ages… that’s just too much mental gymnastics for me.

I did have a few regrets and I wish I would have been able to have the party earlier in the day- because a 5:30 start time with no dinner feels wrong. I couldn’t do it any earlier due to my prior commitments and the rental space, but still, if it’s after 5:00 pm you really should feed them something besides cake. Along those lines, I would have started the party at 4:00 to allow maximum kid-playing time. Although, at this time of the year in Kansas, it’s still pretty darn hot at 4:00.

All in all, I ordered the cake, reserved the space, and had the bouncy castle delivered- but that’s it. No crazy preparations, no sleepless nights before the party. I felt refreshed, everyone had a great time and Alexander loved having all of his friends there. It was so overwhelming to have all of our family and friends in one room to celebrate our little guy, and we couldn’t have loved it more!

My new mantra is less-is-more. This is honestly the first event I’ve hosted (ever) that I felt like I could just enjoy. No appetizers to pull out of the oven, no foofy drinks to replenish. (No house to prep for 30 kids running around!) Also, this type of party suits kids of all ages combined. It allows the littles to do what they want and gives the older kids different activities to bounce between. This was the most fun for Ian and I because we got to talk (briefly) to all of our friends! Since they could bring all of their kids- not just the one Alexander’s age, we all got to enjoy each others company. It was lovely, and nice to see everyone.

I hope these tips inspire you to have a less-is-more party for your kiddo. Even if you don’t use all of my tips- pick one or two that suit you the most and run with that! A happy mom makes everyone’s life better. 😉

When in doubt, rent the jumpy castle.

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