Last week, our darling two-year-old turned three! We threw him a Thomas the Tank Engine themed birthday party at the park. We gathered with friends and family on Sunday afternoon under partly cloudy skies. It was chilly but the kids really enjoyed running around and playing together before we opened presents and ate birthday cupcakes. It was such fun!
A couple of weeks prior to Z’s birthday, I began planning his party. After I started a Pinterest board dedicated to elaborate party decorations, fussy hors-d’oeuvres, and expensive, but *homemade* party favors, sweat began to bead on my forehead and my heart began palpitating. I quickly realized I should have started planning Z’s birthday back in September and I was MONTHS BEHIND.
I rushed to my husband and immediately began rattling off orders – “I need to you build me…” “Can you see if you can find…” “WE NEED TO GET THIS DONE YESTERDAY!”
Ladies and gentlemen, this was the crazy talking.
I am ashamed to write this. However, the reason I’m letting you in on this particularly shameful moment in my life is that I realized something. It’s his third birthday party, y’all.
I tried to think back to my own third birthday party. What decorations did we have? What food was served? What party favors did we create and distribute? My answer: WHO KNOWS?! I was THREE!
Now, I know some people can remember being three. Some people can’t remember anything until they were six or seven. Some people can’t remember childhood at all. For me, five years old was when I really started remembering in detail. So, I thought back to my fifth birthday party.
My parents recorded my fifth birthday on VHS, using a gigantic video camera they borrowed from our neighbor. Having the VHS (yes, I still have it) may be the reason I can remember my party so vividly…although my memories seem a little grainy…and there is a timestamp on the lower right-hand corner…
Anyway, my fifth birthday party was held at the local gymnastics studio. My friends and I played and then we had cake and opened presents. I remember feeling very excited about my birthday cake. It was a vanilla sheet cake with a beautiful rainbow airbrushed onto the frosting. A bluebird was on the upper right-hand side of the cake, swooping down under the rainbow. It was lovely. And DELICIOUS. We have video footage of me after the party, sticking my fingers in the cake and licking the frosting off. It is my favorite scene of the video because my sister comes up and upon seeing my transgression, promptly tattles on me.
After reminiscing about gymnastics and my bluebird cake, I decided to do something unexpected. I deleted my “Z Turns Three!” Pinterest board. I called Erin, one of my best friends who is also the mom of Z’s best friend H. Erin is also a local pastry chef and owner of From Scratch Bakery here in Fort Walton Beach. I placed an order for 12 Thomas the Tank Engine cupcakes. I then went to Party City and stocked up on Thomas-themed decorations. I called the park and booked a party pavilion for Sunday afternoon. One hour and $50 later, I was done. The party was planned.
You know what? Z may not remember where we had the party, what party favors we distributed, or what the decorations looked like. He probably will, however, remember the beautifully decorated and DELICIOUS cupcakes. I mean, look at that face:
So, here’s what I learned: birthday parties for kids younger than five are for the parents. In our social media driven world, parents often feel pressured to throw elaborate parties for their young children. If you are a parent who enjoys putting together detailed, themed parties, I applaud you! I, myself, am not a person who can handle the pressure and therefore, a simple day at the park with delicious cupcakes was my recipe for third birthday party success.