My Parenting Nightmare: The Forgotten Birthday Party

Written by Mom Babble's Jennifer

About a week before my son turned 6, I realized that I had yet to plan a birthday party.

It’s not like I didn’t know this was coming. I was there when he was born, so it’s something I should remember. Also, he’s been asking about his birthday since before Halloween. We kept putting him off by reminding him that Christmas comes first, and surely he can figure out how to anticipate only one bankruptcy-inducing holiday at a time. Right?

So last Sunday, when he asked about his party, I had a mild panic attack. I had successfully forgotten to plan for my child’s birthday.

My mind raced with all the things that needed to be done: location, time and date, invitations, distribution of invitations, cake, snacks, games, something for the parents to do while the kids were being entertained, and goody bags. GAH. I hate goody bags.

My first step was to Google “best birthday party locations near me”, because we are relatively new to the Northern Virginia area and this is our first birthday here. I was looking for bouncy houses or indoor trampoline places or anything that didn’t require that I make any sort of preparations before arriving.

Y’all. Y’all. Not a single place offers parties for more than 10 children for less than $300. Three. Hundred. Dollars.

“Hey, babe? You need to mow the lawn. We’re having the party here.”

But now I need something for them to do during this party. I am not planning party games that no one wants to play. Kids always want to be left to their own devices, and those planned activities are either universally ignored or, worse, you stare in horror as the kids kick/color on/otherwise destroy the game you spent 5 hours learning how to make from crappy Pinterest instructions, and you didn’t even get to take a picture yet.

“Hey, babe? We need to pump up the soccer ball, find the frisbees, and buy some bubbles.” Problem solved.

Next step: invitations. I had to decide how many kids we were going to invite. Liam’s class has 27 children. Add in the neighbor kids and children of friends… I needed at least 30 invitations. And this was Sunday before the party on Saturday, so I needed them tonight. Printable invitations it is!

Hey, did you know that printable invitations can cost just as much as the ones you buy in the store, but you have to do all the work yourself? Scammers.

But did you know that you can Google “free How to Train Your Dragon 2 coloring sheets” and print as many as you want? Color your own party invites: simple, inexpensive genius. (We didn’t even color them ourselves. We sent them home as a “pre-party activity”. WIN.)

I sent the invitations home in backpacks with instructions to dress warmly for outdoor play, and an RSVP phone number with a promise not to invoice parents who couldn’t make it. For real.

We have a tradition in our house of ordering a King Cake from New Orleans for our birthday parties, so that part was easy. I decided to host the party after lunch so that I didn’t need to provide snacks, except a few munchies for the parents. I provided water for the kids, and coffee for the adults.

Time/date/location: check.

Activities (or lack thereof): check.

Invitations: check.

Snacks/cake: check.

Goody bags: UGH (*$#*#$@*^%#@)

I loathe goody bags. Whoever thought, “Hey! Let’s send these kids home with crappy pencils and rubber choking hazards bouncy balls and stickers!” should be shot. I refuse to spend an extra $40 (or more!) to give kids cheap toys that their parents will throw into the trash at the first available opportunity.

My solution? Temporary tattoos. Take one if you want it, leave it if you don’t. Thanks for coming.

Best Party Ever

So we swept, vacuumed, picked up the loose fish hooks from the back porch, and everyone had a great time. As it turns out, some unguided play time, cake, and a bottle of bubbles is all that any kid wants from a birthday party.

Next year, we’ll do this all over again. I won’t even panic.

About The Author


Mary Katherine is a southerner, born and raised. Growing up in Alabama, she developed an affinity for lightning bugs, sweet tea, playing guitar, and having strong opinions. She's happily married with a son (Nugget) and two fur babies. Fun facts: MK is a living kidney donor, speaks a little Thai, and has written two novels.


    1. It absolutely worked in our favor, and the kids had a blast. I’m going to do the same thing for my daughter’s party, I think. 😀

  1. The kids had a GREAT time so in my book the party was a success! I personally agree with the gift bags. Tattoos are easy; kids love them; and there’s nothing left afterwards. Good job mom!

  2. Please tell me you really told your guests you wouldn’t invoice them. Because that’s just too fabulous! And not coloring the invitations so that the kids could have an “activity” is nothing short of genius. It would be so selfish to steal that fun away from them *wink*.

    1. HA! Jill, I really did put that on the invite! I thought it was hilarious. (Related note: I laugh at my own jokes.)

  3. We did this too for our girls they turned 9…we bobbed for apples and played a couple of other easy games. Mostly they danced and ran around. Their friends still talk about it being their favorite party…I don’t know that any of them had ever been to a birthday party that wasn’t at a “place”.

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