When the Party Is Hardy and the Mama Is Pooped

I lay in bed with long lists of party to-do’s swarming around my head like a bunch of irritating mosquitoes. I needed to buy this. And make that. I couldn’t forget to pick up this. And craft that. Buy. Prep. Cut. Create.

This party was all I could think about. I was pretty sure at this point that even if I tried to sleep, I’d just dream about it … so might as well stay awake and sort through the lists, right?

Have you ever been in the position that instead of you owning the party, you realize the party actually owns you? I mean, who’s in charge of this shindig anyway?!

In owning and operating an event company, our family concept of what a party should look like can get pretty warped pretty quickly. Our kids have been educated from a young age that all birthdays come with a large jumpy house and a plethora of balloons. And of course, every party must have a theme. Plus we have a large community of family and friends, so every party has at least 30 to 40 people. And a lot of people equals a lot of presents. And what child doesn’t like presents?!


  • When the planning overwhelms and zaps all the joy. For you. And your child.
  • When budgets are blown in our desire to impress. This can happen in the blink of an eye. And often out of good intentions. We just want to wear that Good Mom badge for one little birthday. To have the party that everyone is talking about, posting epic pictures and saying things like, “Oh my word! Hashtag BEST PARTY EVER!”
  • When we go over the top to avoid looking like a loser mom. We’re afraid others will judge us for having a lame party for our child. And a lame party would reveal all those areas in which we feel we are lacking. And gasp! Our “imperfections” would be exposed to the watching world.
  • When we feel badly for a previous birthday and are trying to make up for it with a sensational knock-it-outta-the-park kind of party. {For instance, one year I stayed up into the wee hours handcrafting a large Eiffel Tower out of black pipe cleaners. Almost impossible, I know. Then I yawned my way to the computer to print off black and white scenes of Paris, gluing them one at a time onto polkadot flag banners. Very sticky and very time consuming. And lastly, to continue the insanity, I proceeded to draw the Arc de Triomphe and Tour Eiffel on clear pieces of velum. With a Sharpie! – I’m telling you, GUILT is a strong motivator!}
  • When thinking about the party causes debilitating stomach pains and unhealthy amounts of stress. You know, those erratic heart palpitations that happen every time you think about T.H.E.  P.A.R.T.Y.
  • When the party carries you away to the Land of Mean MamaYou snap. You growl. You threaten small people within an inch of their lives. Then you turn on all the poor souls around you. Store clerks. Bakery staff. Other customers in line at Target. Gas attendants. The person driving in front of you. Anyone who might possibly get in your way of organizing and executing the perfect party.

And all for what? Pretty pictures? Mind-blowing memories?

We want to be people who celebrate the person more than the party.

Wanna know the best party planner of all time? Here’s a hint: He’s been throwing parties since the beginning of time. In fact, He planned feasts right into the Old Testament calendar year. Times to purposefully stop and celebrate His goodness.

Second hint: His Son’s first miracle on earth was at a wedding. A several-day-long event. Now that’s my kind of party! (Please note: I’m not saying to skip ordering pizza because you think God might pull off another loaves and fishes miracle at your party.)

I’m also not saying that planning a party is wrong. We want to celebrate our children. To let them know how special they are. To God and to us.

But as wise mamas, let’s carefully look at our heart motivations and peer deeply into the WHY behind all the busyness and all the arrangements. Are we simply trying to be good hosts and welcome our guests in a loving and gracious manner? Or maybe we’re creating beauty and spreading joy because that’s how we’re wired. Some people do love to plan parties. (You know who you are!)

Bottom line is this: Are we desiring to celebrate our party people OR are we earnestly seeking for others to applaud our party efforts?

We want our party preparations to be fueled by LOVE – not driven by a longing to astound and amaze.

This is something I’m still learning. How about you?


Anne-Renee Gumley

Anne-Renee is a full-time mom who works part-time at her family's party store. She has two children who keep her laughing, a husband who keeps her smiling, and an itch for writing that just won't go away.

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