Hell Month and Party Planning

Hell Month

It is May and the sun is finally shining here in northern NJ. It also means that I have parties on the brain. This month we celebrate birthdays for my nephew, my son, my sister-in-law, and myself along with Mother’s Day and Memorial Day immediately followed by birthdays for my other nephew and brother-in-law in early June. This year we have the added bonus of celebrating my husband’s graduation.

Just typing it all out makes me tired.

This is why I like to call May “Hell Month” and why I can think of nothing but all the parties we have planned. Thankfully, I LOVE throwing parties (although May is a bit excessive, even for me) but I understand that lots of people don’t. The only reason I love throwing parties is because I try my very hardest to organize celebrations that allow me time to mingle and talk to my guests. If I’m frazzled and overwhelmed I’ll be too busy running around to enjoy the company so I plan my events accordingly. I wanted to take a few moments before my life completely spirals out of control and give you a few tips on throwing parties you can actually enjoy.

1: Start Planning Early

Before you laugh at me, hear me out. I don’t mean that you should start drawing up complicated seating charts or mapping out your 12-course meal six months ahead of time. What you can do is browse Pinterest to choose a theme (if there is one) and come up with a rough draft of the invitees. This will give you a reasonable number to keep in mind later on when you’re trying to come up with a menu or planning some elaborate goodie bags. You want to keep in mind how many people will be coming before you make up your mind to do something that’s outrageously complicated.

2: Be Selective with Your Guest List

If you don’t feel up to throwing a party for all of your kid’s classmates and their fourth cousins twice removed you DO NOT have to. Take this as my permission to say “no” and keep the party manageable for you. You’re the one putting all the time and effort into the party, make sure you don’t get in over your head and you can still enjoy yourself.

3: Determine Your Focus

For example, I LOVE decorations, I would rather spend all my time and energy concocting adorable centerpieces than slaving over six different kinds of crudité. If menu planning makes you break into a cold sweat, don’t feel guilty about keeping it simple. If streamers are as far as you can go to making the place look festive, that’s fine too. Remember, at the end of the day no one cares but you.



I made these for my son’s “Toy Story” birthday party! He insisted that we have the claw! 


4: Let People Help

Once the big day rolls around and people start showing up you might be running a little bit behind and your guests will ask you “Is there anything I can do to help?” The answer to that question should always be “YES”. Put them to work carrying out trays, doing dishes, holding the baby or taking pictures. It doesn’t make you a bad host, it makes them a good friend. There is no shame in receiving help from others and allowing your friends to be of service on the big day because…

5: It’s About Love and Community, NOT Perfection

I know there’s a lot of pressure to throw the perfect party but you won’t be getting any grief from me. Try to remember what the big picture is: we are gathered together to celebrate someone’s special day. When you look back on this day you won’t remember what was on the menu or that the streamers didn’t hang perfectly straight. You’ll look at the faded photographs (or the digital files you never got around to printing) and remember how excited they were to see their grandparents, the way they got frosting on their little nose, and how you stayed up way too late sitting by the fire, chatting with your favorite people.



Aren’t they cute?!?!?! 


So don’t sweat the small stuff and go ahead and enjoy yourself. You don’t have to run yourself ragged to make beautiful memories.


4 thoughts on “Hell Month and Party Planning

  1. About a month before my son’s third birthday, we were visiting my sister-in-law out of state. She wanted to buy his birthday gift early, while we were there, to save on shipping it later. As it was only two months before her son’s fourth birthday, and four months before her other son’s second birthday (got all that?), I followed her lead to buy gifts for my nephews, too. And since they were nearly three, four and two years old, Thomas the Tank Engine was the theme of choice. One of us said, “It’s too bad the boys haven’t ever been to each other’s birthday party.” And the other said, “We could just have a party now…for everyone. It’s not like they really know when their birthdays are.” Just a few days earlier, my son and I had been discussing his upcoming birthday, and he had definitively declared that the required party elements are “presents, cake, singing, and fire.” So that’s what we did: my sister-in-law and I wrapped three new wooden trains, lit candles in three cupcakes, sang ‘Happy Birthday, Everybody” –and held the most successful and tear-free toddler birthday party to date. I guess the moral of the story is, less is more. Because you’re right, Jessica, it’s all about being with the people you love. Happy Birthday!


  2. Pingback: An Update and a Birth Story | From Catastrophe to Grace

  3. Pingback: Life Update and Giveaway Winner Announced! | From Catastrophe to Grace

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