My thoughts on the bash:
Fabulous. I had a great time, Scotty looked like he enjoyed himself, and all of our guests appeared to have a good time as well. Here are my suggestions for anyone throwing a toddler birthday party in the near future:
1.) HIRE A BABYSITTER!! If you don't have any family planning to attend (my parents were in MN for Ben's birthday bash), there is no way a mom can manage the food, guests AND a baby all at the same time. I will admit, I felt really weird about hiring a nanny for the party, since I was essentially farming my child out on what was supposed to be a family celebration, but looking back, there is no way I could have done it all. And our nanny was fantastic; she made sure Scotty was always entertained, well-fed, and around the other kids. We had 12 kids 3 and under and oh my gosh, I can tell you now, I will never work at a preschool or daycare. It was like mildly organized chaos.
Which leads me to...
2.) Don't try to plan games for kids when they are 3 and under. Out of all of our guests, the oldest child was 3.5. And then we had two 3 year old twins, another 3 year old (and 2 months), a two year old boy, a two year old girl, Scotty, and then a 9 month old, and 8 month old, a 4 month old, and a three weeker.
That's a lot of kids.
I had planned for a little safari in the backyard (I was going to hide stuffed animals), maybe some Red Rover, and then a game of 'Red Light Green Light.' I really though the safari was going to be too easy, but we couldn't even get the kids to listen to instructions, let alone hunt for animals.
The phrase 'herding cats' comes to mind.
A few of the three year olds and the two year old little girl were able to understand the game, but that's it. So we had a lot of animals left in the yard.
3.) People who don't have kids will arrive on time.
This shocked me. I guess I'm used to everyone obeying naptime (i.e. You never interrupt naptime, unless the house is on fire) but if you don't have anyone in your house that naps...you actually make it to appointments/social engagements on time. Funny how just a year ago this whole 'running late' thing would have totally confused me, and now it's just our way of life.
Anyways, our party was scheduled to begin at 3 (Rule 3.5: Plan for the party to start AFTER the second nap of the day) and I really thought I had a 90 minute window in there. I waltzed downstairs at 2:45, began setting out food, and thought maybe I could sit down for a few minutes. Nope. The doorbell rang at 2:57 and by 3:20, I had twenty hungry people in my kitchen as I frantically chopped avocados and mixed dips. Brian and Mark (his friend visiting for the weekend) only arrived home with the beer/ice/soda minutes before the first guests arrived.
The ones with kids straggled in after 4, but man, you have got to watch out for guests without kids. They are a punctual group.
4.) Get decorations up early.
If we had waited until Saturday morning to hang stuff, I think we would have been sunk. Thankfully, I was neurotic enough to start taping things to the walls on Thursday, so by Saturday afternoon, I just had to concentrate on food.
Our theme was 'retro whimsical' and I wanted to emphasize primary colors and little bears (since it was the Bear's party.) We rented two 8 foot tables, 2 three foot cocktail tables, linens to match, and 16 chairs. We had additional seating in our kitchen, family room, and chairs outside, but what I hadn't counted on is that the people with kids would need their own room. Thankfully, they had the entire dining room/living room area and the kid-less folks were able to eat/drink in the relative quiet of the other part of the house.
The general consensus was Brian. ::sigh::
5.) Don't let engineers around your sprinkler system. They will likely try to fix a wayward head and accidentally break off six inches of plastic pipe. (yes, we are still hand-watering our lawn).
6.) Have a signature drink. I know, again, I felt weird about serving alcohol at my child's birthday (hard alcohol, that is), but I have to say, my pink-lemonade-and-Grey-Goose (aptly named "The-Stay-At-Home-Mom") seemed to be a big hit. We went through three pitchers and an entire bottle of Grey Goose by 6pm. I think (especially for women), you don't necessarily want to drink wine from a plastic cup (and I only provided glass wine glasses to those without kids), and beer isn't a good option, either. Sometimes a girl just wants a fun, flirty, and very pink drink. And it went over well. In the words of my friend with the three-week old, as she came back for a refill, "This is so good! I might have to pump and dump!"
Next year, in the sake of fairness, I'll come up with 'The-Working-Mom." I don't know what's in it yet, but it will be highly caffeinated.
All in all, it was a great day. I feel so blessed that we have so many wonderful people in our lives and in Scotty's life now, too. We opened gifts on Sunday and were just overwhelmed with the generosity. Between all of the cars, wagons, trains, and motorcycles (Steph!), I think the theme for the coming year is...mobility. Yikes!