Summer has a lot going for it. The fun, the sun, the fried everything at the state fair. Those are the pros. The cons, other than sunburn, heat rash, and bug bites? More babies are born in August (followed by July) in the U.S. then any other time of the year. Do the math. The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, apparently. And you know what that means: Birthday party season.
Yes, now is the time when every child you meet is having a birthday party and wants to invite your kids. Kids from school, kids from dance class, rando kids you meet at the pool, and that one annoying kid you meet on the beach who doesn’t appear to have parents because he’s always hanging out under your umbrella. Chances are even one of your own kids is having a birthday.
Before you start sweating about buying presents and spending time with man-sized rodents who sing with a band, relax. Here’s how you can survive birthday party season:
1. Say you can’t make it. If the kid who is inviting your kid to a party is just an acquaintance or the party will be some enviable event that your child will beg for but you can’t afford the money or time to throw, tell your child he can’t go. Why? Maybe he needs his gallbladder removed. If not, just say he does. Then on the day of the party, when it’s halfway over, tell him that the surgery was cancelled and he can stop fasting and have a cookie.
2. Throw parties for yourself and your friends. For every birthday party you have to host (for your own kids, if you’re hosting other kid’s parties, you need an intervention), throw yourself a party with your friends. For every party you carpool other children to, take yourself and their parents out for mani-pedis. And for every party you actually have to stay at, like a toddler bounce-house bonanza, throw yourself a vacation.
3. Get Botox. There’s a good chance that you’ll have to do a lot of fake smiling to make it through August birthday party season. That’s exhausting for your poor face. Instead, try plastic surgery. You want your plaster smile to hover between The Joker and someone who enjoys chatting with Disney Princess impersonators.
4. Purchase ear plugs. Any hardware or drug store has an abundant and cheap supply of foam earplugs. TaySwift and Bieber songs on repeat at the party that isn’t a drop-off? You wouldn’t know, you’re listening to the sweet sound of silence.
5. Fake allergies. You’d love to stay and help clean up after Josie’s Birthday Hoedown, but you’re allergic to hay. And horses. And hoedowns. Keep adding to your birthday party allergy list and you’ll spend a net total of 20 minutes actually attending these things this summer.
6. Be charitable. To avoid the expense of your own child’s party, donate the amount of money you would have spent on his fiesta to a local charity. If he accuses you of being mean, you can safely say, “nuh-huh.” I mean, you gave the money to hungry children or abandoned puppies. That’s the opposite of mean.
7. Make your spouse do it. Any and all party activities are now the sole problem of your spouse. Planning them, shopping for them, getting the cake, RSVPing to other parties, buying gifts for other children and standing in a Chuck E. Cheese questioning life choices? Not. Your. Problem. If your spouse refuses, run away from home. There are no birthday parties on the streets.
8. Buy gifts in bulk. Have a healthy supply (eleventy million) of blank greeting cards, single-color gift bags (yellow is neutral and says, “I’m not a major holiday color, so I might as well be a birthday bag”), and gift cards to Amazon ($15 each). That way, you’ll never find yourself at the corner drug store wondering if a turning-10-year-old would like a Pedi Egg.
8. Be a social outcast. When all else fails, when you simply can’t make it through another piñata pull or round of gift opening, you need to get proactive and avoid the invites themselves. Let it slip that you’ve never thought much of MarySue’s gluten-free birthday cake recipe or that you think Mark’s handmade selfie-booth props look like his 2-year-old made them (is that a fake mustache on a stick or an impaled caterpillar?). Before August 31st rolls around you’ll be persona non grata at all of the worst face-painting and luau pool birthday parties. Of course, so will your kids, but you can just buy their forgiveness with all the money you’ll save by not hosting or going to a single stinking party this birthday party season.
Alas, you can’t avoid birthdays because time does not bend to your will. If it did, we’d all still look like 21 year olds, but have the wisdom of 40-somethings. But you can survive birthday party season if you follow these reasonable suggestions.
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