How to Ease the #instapressure and Throw an Un-Pinterest Birthday Party.

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Anyone else out there feel the pressure of social media and Pinterest begin to mount come birthday time for the kids? Listen, I'm a big fan of the many benefits we can reap from our modern technology, particularly the ease of sharing and finding ideas.  But I have found there can be a downside. Something a hilarious friend of mine calls “#instapressure.” 

I want to begin with a disclaimer that I follow several people on social media for whom throwing impeccably curated parties happens to be their love language. And I am in full support of everyone that finds joy in that process because I'm am sure all of that positive energy is felt and appreciated by the child. This post is for all of my fellow mamas who begin to hyperventilate a little bit in the party aisles and have mini panic attacks while culling Pinterest for ideas. You are not alone.  

Our oldest daughter was born back in the heyday of blogging and pre-Pinterest. I would spend weeks researching ideas and prepping for her party with hand sewn, painted, crafted and created outfits, decorations and favors for her first six birthday parties. I'm not entirely sure those efforts spoke to the heart of my child and helped her feel special on her birthday. If I'm being honest with myself, much of what I was after was the perfect Pinterest picture and to validate my own place among the ranks of what society says it takes to be a good American mother. Looking back now, I'm not sure it was worth all the hassle and stress. 

A few years ago, in effort to avoid the weight of it all and allow more time to truly enjoy and focus on the kids on their special day, I gave up on the whole idea of “perfect parties.” We started opting for “family parties” at home or outsourcing them to fun kid-friendly venues.  These were just as fun and memorable for everyone.  But still today I find that #instapressure to get a great picture creeping back in.

I confess all of this is the epitome of first world problems. And even though I know it, I still cave. I also take full ownership that the pressure I have felt to throw the "perfect party.”

So I took a different approach to Audrey's tenth birthday last weekend. By focusing on what matters most, my daughter and her guests all had an incredibly fun time.  And not-so ironically, I don't have many pictures to show for it!

 

Here are a few thoughts on how this year’s approach made my daughter feel special with minimal #instapressure:

1. Focus on the feelings not what it looks like! By that I mean listening to what they really want and feel about celebrating their birthday. I no longer assume the kids want a big party with lots of friends. Oftentimes we stay home and maybe invite only one of their closest friends for a simple dinner and normal 'playdate' time. This year, since she has finally made a new group of friends she wanted to them all over to the house.

2. Celebrate their interests. I've noticed over the past year, Audrey has begun to show interest in baking. Being a very reluctant and box-mix sort of baker myself, we haven't logged much time with the mixer or oven. So I thought it would be a win-win sort of situation to throw a baking birthday party! She was delighted with the idea and her enthusiasm helped her contribute to the work required to get ready. 

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3. Make-your-own favors. The girls all took home a share of the sweet treats they baked together. Added bonus: we didn’t have a bunch of sweets laying around begging to be eaten! A special thank you to my lovely friend for suggesting these Paper Cupcake ToGo Boxes!

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4. Less games more fun. Whenever possible I like to put the kids in charge. I'm not a big fan of planning or organizing party games. But, whenever I pull out the polaroid camera the kids have the most fun! And they double as bonus favors! I'd say the highlight of the party was the girls all taking turns frosting and decorating the birthday cake they baked for Audrey. They had an absolute riot with their creation and I couldn't have been happier not to be in charge of the cake this year.  

5. Destressing decorations. I'm not sure the kids will ever remember what sort of decorations we had for their parties, which goes back to tip #1, focus on how they feel. When I end up stressed out about how perfect the house and decorations look that I don't spend anytime with my child I end up totally missed the point. So this year, we recycled some of the decorations still left up from her brother's birthday party. Audrey and I scored some 'party in a box' ready made decorations in the discount bin at Michaels. I put her in charge of decorating and it turned out “perfect” in every way.