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The More the Merrier

And the time I accidentally invited the whole school!

Although I love gathering humans, I am not an event planner and the details of events/making sure things are perfect are just not in my wheelhouse. But, I am a firm believer in the fact (yes I said fact) that if we just get people together (add music, food and just a sprinkle of entertainment), it will all work out. It has never proved me wrong. 

My birthday is on Halloween and (as an adult), every year I would just pick a bar in my NYC neighborhood (Kips Bay what what!) and I would throw the invite out to pretty much all of my facebook friends with a strong suggestion that they come in costume. I would get such a melting pot between my closest friends, people I liked but didn’t spend much time with, and people that I had met only once but in some type of memorable way. It was ALWAYS a blast. Partially because we were all in costumes perhaps, but it was such a fun way for everyone to get together and meet new people. There were always several hookups that transpired between my birthday guests – a sign of a great party IMO. 

Fast forward to my first child’s first birthday. I wanted to do something to celebrate such a big milestone (more for me than for her – keeping a kid alive for their first year is such an extraordinary undertaking)! As discussed, I do NOT enjoy party planning AT ALL but I very much enjoy being at a party (hence my big birthdays that consisted of simply a choice of bar and a facebook invite – that’s it!). Kids birthday parties often seem to be a thing that involve a lot of planning time and expense. I wasn’t ready to shell out either of those things. So I picked a playground (the one a few blocks from me that my daughter liked going to) and my good friend who LOVES party planning insisted on bringing a fold-out table and there I laid a bunch of snacks that we bought from Trader Joes. I will note that some of these snacks I cooked (throwing frozen things in the oven) which was actually the most complicated part of the party and also were barely eaten! I wanted my daughter to have a smash cake because I wanted to see her get into it. I invited everyone who had been a part of her life as well as my friends. It was super chill and she loved her cake and I cherish the memories and photos from that party. She turned 2 during Covid shortly after we moved to Colorado, so her birthday party was tiny. It was anticlimactic and resulted in me eating a tremendous amount of Costco birthday cake over the course of the next week. But when she turned 3, I decided it was time for a party, even though birthday parties still hadn’t made a post-Covid comeback yet (we would be the ones to get it going!). I decided we would employ my tried-and-true easy-and-economical kids birthday strategy: a playground with folding tables and plenty of snacks and cake. We invited the whole class. I said no presents (more to come re my thoughts on gift-ables later) but I did suggest that parents were welcome to bring adult beverages :). Everett showed up to the party after daycare – most of her friends were already there and we had the whole thing set up. She LOVED it. Everyone loved it! It was easy. It was chill. It was a fun and meaningful place for people to connect exactly as they were without any need to impress anyone else. 

So when her 4th birthday came around, of course I was going to invite the whole class. The school always circulates the invites so as not to give out parents’ personal information. Along those lines, this particular school takes privacy so seriously, that when they share our kids’ photos with us, they would only send photos with JUST our kids – which meant top down shots of just the top of my kids’ heads. No action shots of them having a good time with their friends or activities. I truly felt like I was missing out on their lives. So back to the invite. In addition to the kids in her class, I also requested that the invite go to a few kids who she had previously been in classes with as well as a few of my sons’ friends’ families. But instead of sending Everett’s birthday invite to the whole class, the administrator sent it to the whole school. I realized this because a neighborhood friend of mine with children in other classes who I had not invited, asked me if the invite she received was for my Everett (she was confused). The administrator had also failed to include any manner to RSVP. For a moment I panicked about having to un-invite the whole school (there are roughly 100 families). But instead, I thought, “the playground is sizable and there is always enough food”. Further, I decided that having so many families come whom I didn’t normally interact with meant that I could launch a “ditch this outrageous privacy policy with photos” campaign (side note, even with this policy, every single parent signed an agreement swearing that we would never post a picture of another child from daycare on social media). So we went to Costco and bought plenty of snacks, set up our folding tables and some ANDI blankets and we got the biggest ice cream cake we could buy (because custom Magill’s ice cream cakes are a birthday staple in our house now). 

Well it was a big party! So many of the parents told me how grateful they were for the invite and to connect with other parents. They also expressed general shock that I had invited the whole school (most invites we get only invite a few kids, very few invite the whole class and absolutely zero invite the whole school). It was actually easy, it was fun and at the end of the party, Everett said that it was great to see her class friends but what she really loved was all the new friends. And guess what else – my campaign worked – I got a number of other parents to express their shared feelings on the photo policy. So not only was a great time had by many, but I now get to see actual meaningful photos of the moments in the lives of my children :). 

What do you think about getting people together for a chill party in a public place? The more the merrier? Do you feel anxiety about mixing different people or worry that they may not get along? Have you ever regretted extending an invite to someone? Have you ever regretted not extending an invite? What are your tips for making party planning easy? OR – are you someone who loves it so much that you enjoy the small details of planning? Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

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