A few years ago, I had a revelation during my niece’s birthday party. My sister-in-law, a total DIY craft-mom extraordinaire had transformed her family’s backyard into a ‘campsite’ to celebrate her daughters’ combined second and fourth birthdays. The yard was decked out with a pup tent, lanterns, and homemade ruffled white and aqua crepe paper garland. Big and little guests noshed on roast-your-own hotdogs, watermelon-on-a-stick and s’mores bites. It was picture-perfect.
And then we sang Happy Birthday and cut into a polka-dot sheet cake that my also awesomely real sister had purchased at Target. Yeah, Target. After one bite of the chocolate-frosted goodness, she looked up and declared “This cake tastes like freedom.” As she went on to explain, the absolute truth of her statement began to sink in and has since changed the way I view my own kid’s birthdays.
You see, as my hostess was dreaming up a fabulous layered s’mores confection of a cake, her four-year-old birthday girl confessed what she really wanted was just a plain ol’ chocolate cake a la Target. So, this mama set herself free from her own expectations of what a camp-themed cake should be and look like. She set herself free from the obligations of preparing said cake (I feel like she probably would have incorporated homemade graham crackers and chocolate ganache). And she bought the cake her little girl had envisioned.
So these days, I’ve let go of Pinterst-perfect parties. I’m living in kid birthday party freedom, and each year I have to work to consciously remind myself of it.
As Adelyn turns eight today, this week is also known as Funfetti Everything week. My daughter loves to bake and we’ve had a great time in the kitchen together whipping up homemade funfetti cookies and funfetti cookie cake from Sally’s Baking Addiction. If you know me, you know I’m discerning when it comes to desserts. I’m either all on board the paleo train or I indulge in a flour-butter-sugar scenario. Homemade everything for the win. But for Funfetti Week, I also bought a boxed cake mix and frosting as backup. Because FREEDOM. And guess what? I wasn’t feeling like whipping up homemade almond buttercream and also doing a mountain of dishes. So, I gave her a frosting bag and let her go to town piping cookie-monster-blue icing all over that cookie cake. And she loved it. And I love that I can now let go of perfection and my own ideas of what my kid’s birthday party should be.
Want to experience birthday party freedom? Here are a few thoughts to help you cling to what’s important and let go of what’s not.
Set yourself free from your own expectations of what you ‘should’ do to throw a fabulous party. Learn and meet the expectations of the birthday girl or boy and you’ve had a perfect birthday!
When you’re doing what you enjoy, it isn’t work. Make 100 cupcakes if you love to do it. Make hand-lettered signs if crafty calligraphy is your jam. Do a video montage if it brings you joy. If these things make you want to rip your hair out, get off that crazy train.
Hire help! If it’s in the budget, hire someone else to do what may potentially cause you a lot of stress instead of enjoying your child’s special day with them. My best friend also happens to be an amazing from-scratch creative baker, so she has helped bring my daughter’s cake visions to life. She created the perfect rainbow Beanie Boo cake for Adelyn’s seventh birthday. Not only was it amazingly delicious, it completely freed me up to enjoy the party.