Another year, another birthday!

Yesterday was Casey’s birthday party – though as you may recall, her actual birthday was a couple of weeks ago.

Now let me just say for the record, I am so thankful I have only two kids because the birthday party drama is enough to kill poor Good Enough Mother. Between party planning, executing, writing thank you notes (and actually sending them out) it adds years to my life and I breathe a big, huge sigh of relief that they only happen once a year.

So during Casey’s party as I was just settling in with the other mommies, wine in hand, praising Casey and her friends for the small, intimate gathering we’d arranged – as opposed to the huge blow out Cole had , drama with a capital D ensued. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

My kids’ birthday parties are very reflective of who they are and their personalities. Cole, who could be the mayor of our little town, is fond of BIG bashes and invites every single person he has ever said hello to in the hallway at school. Casey, since she was a little kid, has always opted for smaller, intimate gatherings with a few friends. It just so happens her two best friends are also September babies and they all run in the same circles so we opted for a combined party.

Now before I go on, mothers of girls, especially pre-teen/teen girls will understand this. You cannot get a group of girls at this age together without there being some type of drama, real or otherwise. And Casey knows that which is why sleepover party was out of the question this year. Thank God!

The theme of the party was Dinner and a Movie and Casey and her posse wanted to get dressed up and dine under the stars. So Good Enough Mother, the queen of throwing birthday parties on a budget, swung into action. I rented some tables and table clothes, 10 plastic folding chairs, Casey and I spent 15 bucks on a 39-piece set of dishes from the Salvation Army. We set up the tables in the driveway, I moved my ornate candelabra outside, found a piece of decorative cloth and stapled and pinned it to a couple of rolling clothes racks for a backdrop. The cloth napkins, napkin rings and plate chargers completed the look and before we knew it, VOILA! Our outdoor bistro was complete.

While I handled the decorating, Buff cooked. And cooked. And cooked some more. The other moms brought food and drink as well so along with filet (WHAT?) potatoes, kale and dinner rolls there was also breaded chicken, pasta, Shirley Temples, ice cream cake and carrot cake! A mild night, red wine (for us, not them) all was right with the world. Later, as the girls changed into their comfortable clothes to run around the yard, I smiled and thought about how there is still a wonderful innocence about them. This will probably be the last party where the only boys present will be brothers poaching plates for leftovers.

Cake, ice cream and the inevitable sugar crash is what led to all the drama. See the dinner was done, the running was done and it was time for the movie. Only not everyone could agree on what to watch so they split up. The group that splintered off wanted to play a prank on the others. Now that’s as much detail as I am going to divulge. Let me say, for the record, the prank was not explained well to me, I did not hear well and it went too far and before I knew it, two of the birthday girls were in tears. OMG!

Having been a 14-year-old girl myself, I knew what needed to happen. So I made the warring factions all sit in the living room in front of the TV, then I left. And something mysterious and magical happened. Without adult intervention, they became friends again. I knew it would happen but thought it might take until at least Monday morning. Lucky for me and the other moms, it did not.

The dads showed up in time to clean up, the moms ended the night counting the empty wine bottles and I made the same pledge I make every year at the end of a birthday party, NEVER AGAIN!

All’s well that ends well but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t giving serious thought to whisking Casey away for a destination celebration next year…

But what about you? Do your kids’ birthday parties always end like this? What do you do? And what are your secrets for throwing the perfect party…?