Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Anti-Pinterest No-Theme Birthday Party

Photo by Michael Spencer

I can’t believe Guinevere is two already!  But then I think about how much has happened in our lives since her first birthday last year, and it feels like she should be three by now! Like many moms these days, I started a Pinterest board about six months in advance trying to plan Guinevere’s birthday party.  But the more I thought about it, the less I wanted to stress about themes, decorations and food - especially when I knew I would have an infant to deal with.  So I decided there would be no theme, and I would not have any coordinated decorations – nothing that would get pictures of this party pinned on Pinterest.  I kept it simple: a birthday party in the park.  I asked the guests to bring food for themselves or to share so that I wouldn’t have to stress about bringing more than cupcakes (though I did end up bringing some other snacks).  

Our no-theme food table.

One stroke of genius: I decided not to frost the cupcakes ahead of time, and instead set up a "frost your own" cupcake station. This way a) I did not have to worry about transporting frosted cupcakes and b) people got to put as much or as little frosting as they wanted.  This worked great for parents with little kids as they could give the two year olds an unfrosted cupcake and not worry about too much sugar-craziness.
Cupcake station. Photo by Michael Spencer

I have some amazing friends and family!  Everyone pitched in and we had a great party – who needs a theme?  Some good friends of ours headed over to the park early to stake out the one table that I knew would have shade at the time of the party. Another friend brought a shade structure and some decorations that she had lying around her house.  Here's a tip: even if you have a party with no decorations, bring some sort of distinguishing feature, whether it's some balloons or a shade structure that says, "Happy Birthday," particularly if your party is in a large park, like this one was.  That way, when people text from the parking lot asking where you are, you can say, “Look for the Disney Princess banners” (or whatever decorations you are using).  
The shade structure.
I think I’ve mentioned here before (or at least I know I’ve said this on facebook many times) that I’m not a big party favor person.  The last thing any parent needs is a bag of stuff that collects dust or gets thrown away.  I decided, instead of goodie bags, I would buy a bunch of bubbles and set them out for the kids to play with and take home.  I also wanted to share with all my parent friends just how much I love this brand of bubbles.  They are called fubbles, and the dispenser is made so that toddlers (and their parents) don’t spill bubble solution all over themselves.  Seriously, you can tip that thing upside down and nothing comes out . . . though if you leave it on its side for long enough, or dip it in the water on your water table (G loves doing that for some reason), it will spill, but still not as much as regular bubbles.

G and her Fubbles.  Photo by Michael Spencer

After this year’s birthday, I think we are going to have many more birthday parties in the park.  I didn’t have to clean my house.  I didn’t have to provide any activities for the kids.  They all went over to the playground and played to their little heart’s content, or they chased each other around the grass, or they went down and stared at the ducks.  The adults were able to socialize and catch up with other parents.  We all had a great time . . . such a great time that, even though we scheduled a morning party so that G could nap when she got home, she was too excited to sleep and spent the entire time singing to herself in her crib!


  1. I love so much about this!!! I don't do good parties for my kids, but I do like making cake so I'll usually invite people over for just a slice of cake and visiting. You have a lot of good ideas here!

  2. Totally with you on everything about this! I LOVE Pinterest, but the majority of the time, you just can't get better than simple. Especially when you have babies. I have teenagers in addition to my 2 year old and I remember getting SO tired of those bags that would come home full of candy and junk that they would lose. I try and invite very few kids now and do a favor that is useful and/or fun like the bubbles. One year I did a make your own ice cream sandwich (complete with rolling sprinkles around the sides) and that was great!

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