I am a self proclaimed DIY addict. There I said it, admitting it is half the battle, right? If I think there is a remote chance I can make it or do it myself, I will try. I would say that I have a more than 50% success rate, which only spurs me to keep doing it. Since becoming a mom, this addiction has only gotten worse. Crafts, decor, costumes, you name it, I’ll try to make it myself. But the one that has gotten a little out of hand is the birthday parties. I get these grand ideas in my head, and the execution falls anywhere in the range of coming pretty close to what was I thinking?
I always believe we can do everything ourselves and I tell myself that it will save us money. I started planning my daughter’s August ‘Moana’ party in May. Tissue paper flowers, a photo backdrop, paper palm trees, flowers for her hair, food labels–if it was tropical and I could make it out of paper, it was on my list. I collected supplies as I came across them, a little here, a little there while not realizing how quickly they were adding up. August arrived and I realized how quickly the day would be here. I started various projects but never finished any. The week of her party, I set mini goals for myself to get everything done. As usual, life happens and I began running around like a crazy person the day before the party instead of spending my time cleaning and prepping food like a normal person would do. I did that on top of finishing flowers and palm trees and arranging pineapple straws in cups.
The morning of the party, as I ran around trying to finish the essentials (food and seating) my mother said to me, as she has done after EVERY party, “maybe next year, just order food.” I ignored her at the time, but I definitely didn’t forget it. My husband and I got into an argument because he wouldn’t let me put holes in the siding of our house to hang up my beautiful decorations – can you believe the nerve of him?! Guests started arriving, and I looked out only to realize we had chairs for people to sit on but no tables. Panic set in. Thankfully more help swept in and more tables arrived shortly thereafter. I spend the beginning of the party a ball of stress, making sure things were where they’re supposed to be. The second half was a daze. I think I mentally checked out. I never took one photo of decorations I spent hours on. I didn’t even get a photo of us as a family. Isn’t that what I worked so hard on? To create a memory for my daughter she would cherish?
Do I think my daughter had a great time? I know she did. But was it because she was surrounded by friends and family and love, or amazing tissue paper Hawaiian flowers? Most likely the first option. So when my son’s first birthday was on the horizon in October, I made the decision. This party would be different. I found a great restaurant, got a quote for a menu, and brought it to my husband. I expected an ‘are you crazy?’ response, thinking the cost would be too high. Before I could even finish my proposal, he said, “absolutely! No question.” When I finally sat down to think about it, we definitely did not save money on my daughter’s party. Or stress.
Being my son’s first birthday and my reputation for parties in the past, I couldn’t NOT make anything. But I kept it simple: a banner and a few decorations, for under $20. The night before around midnight, I said out loud, “this is weird… everything is done…” and then I went to bed. I arrived at the restaurant early, put up my few decorations, and waited to spend time with family and friends. And I did. I enjoyed myself. I watched my son and my family enjoy themselves too. I even got to eat something! While it was so tough to relinquish control, it was freeing. We got to leave there full and happy and went home to relax in a clean house. It was strange, but a nice break.
So do I believe my addiction is cured? No way! I’m already planning the next party. But I have learned when to say no to myself; when to step back and enjoy these moments I try so hard to create.