Birthday checklist

This coming 5th of November will be the crowning moment for weeks of careful preparation, a day to (dis)play and enjoy: my daughter’s birthday! Another episode in my cultural adventure.

Let me start by saying I am the kind of parent who is too lazy -I mean busy (sounds better) to build her life around her kids’ potential desires (I’ll wait for them to become explicit and then we’ll see… 😉 ).  This resulted in a rather original 1-year-old  birthday party last year (and it was not on the good side of “original”). Let me take you through the teachings of my missed-steps.

1. MY PREROGATIVE: the 1st birthday = small event
THE FACT: there is no such thing as small!

My idea was to invite a few friends with & without children, to have an informal reunion, you know, to mark the occasion without taking it out of proportion. I didn’t want to pass for the overachieving b**ch, even though I believe I suffer from Chronic Mom Competition Desease (don’t ask, it’s genetic). So instead of obsessing about perfection, I obsessed about relaxation. Yes, how stressful. My husband and I were the ones getting drinks, cleaning messes, making more coffee, while the crowd was chilling perhaps a bit too much. Since I provided no entertainment whatsoever, people were chilling their way to boredom, and fast! I thought I had to do something, but then again I was too busy pretending not to care, hoping others would do the same. Which of course, just looks plain rude but by that time it was too late. In my defense: our kids were too young to entertain themselves. If that had been the case, adults would have had a chance to mingle… right?

Lesson learned #1: plan for entertainment! Especially if you invite people who don’t know each other…OR give alcohol. However, this being a children’s party, it might be frowned upon. At least in Norway, if you don’t want your party to look like a pediatrician’s waiting room, think of something.

2. MY PREROGATIVE: make a simple but tasty cake
THE FACT: anything without a character will suck, no matter how tasty

It can’t just be any character, it has to be “in vogue”. I had absolutely no clue what was the Cartoon Network’s Top 10. Is that a bad sign? I remember a friend was telling me about some tv show for babies one day and I said “What? you know the name of the characters??” To what she replied “Yes, we are dedicated parents”. Mea culpa! Not only did my cake not have a character, it was flat, stale and shapeless. And I am known to be a good at baker, so at best: my friends were disappointed; at worst: my reputation went to hell and any hope of starting my own bakery could be used to make a fire this winter.

Lesson learned #2:either I start designing the cake one year ahead and growing my own mangos for the filling OR I order the whole thing to a gifted friend who will not betray me.

3. MY PREROGATIVE: this is not a real party, it’s an “informal reunion”, mostly because there is no alcohol
THE FACT: if you invite people who don’t know each other, it’s a party

By the time we cut the cake, I realize it’s a party in spite of me, but other than the food and decorations, I had planned nothing. That means: no take-away gift. Now that, is how you make a 360-screw up. Right, so not only would the parents think I’m weird, now their kids would hate me!

Lesson learned #3: at the very least, buy some candy to give kids on their way out (note to myself: this also goes for halloween, last year I had to give away my Lindt Chocolate 70% cocoa, and only because I was too ashamed to give almonds to a bunch of 7 year-olds trick-or-treating at my door).

So let’s recap:
#1: Entertainment
#2: Cake, with A character
#3: Take-away goodies bag

I’m not sure people will come back this year, but I can tell you I will be more than ready for the few courageous who do show up!I also learned a bit about myself in this process: I was so focused on doing it “my way” (as opposed to “the local way”), that I disregarded the must-dos of throwing a good party. That’s against my nature. No more Mrs Chill-out! Say hello to the 1st PR manager for 2-year-old events! (who said I wasn’t an overachieving b**ch?? ;))

2 Responses to Birthday checklist

  1. Gary Green October 2, 2011 at 02:45 #

    No alcohol? Norway? This does not compute.


  1. Birthday: Part II « An Expat's Norway - November 27, 2011

    […] was ready. The question was: would they show up?… After last year’s party I wasn’t very hopeful. This year was my second shot at throwing a successful birthday party […]