When my daughter "celebrated" her 9th birthday in the intensive care unit of the hospital, we promised her the biggest, best birthday party she could imagine when she got out. It was 78 days before she was released from the hospital -- so there were many, many weeks to imagine said party. It turned out to be a gorgeous day filled with sunshine, friends, family and more food than we could possibly eat. But now it's over and I've fallen into a serious post-party depression. I feel as deflated as the balloons that litter my lawn. If your summer party is anything like mine, you'll recognize the triggers.
1. You pored over the calendar to find the perfect date for your party.
It can't be a holiday weekend and needs to be before your kids go to overnight camp and not while your best friends are on vacation. You log on to Paperless Post and design six versions of the party invitation until you've settled on one that is playful but not too childish, so it works equally well for the families you're inviting and your childless friends. You check the weather forecast, but the big day is still six weeks away, so you find the Farmer's Almanac online to make sure the party won't be rained out. You go over menus and weigh cooking vs. catering and finally decide to order the food and then call to add more food and then decide you need pizza in addition to deli platters so you line up the pizza delivery too. Your husband starts brewing specialty beers and you start researching frozen cocktails you can make in a Vitamix. You get lemonade and root beer and juice boxes for the kids. You enlist your crafty friend to help with the decorations and hire a face painter and a balloonist. Then you decide you need something for the adults, too, so you add a caricature artist to the mix. You make 18 trips to Target to buy all the essentials and you clean your house until it's essentially unrecognizable. You consider putting your house on the market because it will never look this good again, but you realize you don't have time... you've got a party to plan. You decide an ice cream sundae bar will be fun, but the day before the party you realize it's going to be 90 degrees and no amount of ice will keep the ice cream in a solid state so you call five ice cream stores until you find one that will lend you an outdoor freezer. You spend seven hours crafting the perfect playlist, enlisting your 12-year-old to make sure it hits the mark. You buy a dress and get a blow-out and mani/pedi. And then it's the day of the party and you're up at 4 a.m. to start the real preparation. The guests begin to arrive at 3 and the first ones start to trickle out at 5. The party that you have planned for the last four months is over in 120 minutes.
2. As pristine as your house looked before the party, it now looks like you hosted either a frat party or dozens of 9-year-olds -- and is there really much difference?
You're not sure how that happened since it was an outdoor party. You've got crusty food platters and smeared frosting and sticky counters and piles of dishes everywhere. Ripped wrapping paper is strewn about, and the decorations that were so carefully placed are toppled and torn. You consider putting your house on the market because there's no way you'll be able to clean it enough to make it feel livable again.
3. You feel worse than your house looks.
You were not the bride who forgot to eat at her own wedding, and you were certainly not going to forego tasting all of the food you so carefully selected for this party. Sushi, turkey wraps, pasta salad, grilled veggies, and don't forget the ice cream sundae bar... who cares if you're lactose intolerant? You had to sample it all. Unfortunately, the same holds true for the beverages.
4. Restoring normalcy is like watching your party in reverse.
Out with the trash and the recycling and the folding chairs you borrowed from three different neighbors. Not sure which chairs belong to whom or where the fourth card table came from. Back to the ice cream store to return the freezer. Punch bowls and platters go back down to the basement. Furniture is dragged back into place, and there's room in your refrigerator and freezer once again. Your curls spring back and your nails start to chip.
5. Nobody is even slightly as interested in debriefing as you are.
Sure, you get a few calls and emails thanking you, but people don't want to get into the details the way you do. Yes, the balloonist was great, they agree. But they didn't realize there was a custom playlist, let alone how the order of songs was so carefully designed. You realize the event that took up months of your life occupied two hours of theirs, but don't they want to spend even a few minutes discussing which lawn game was most popular and whether you should have gone with the Cobb salad instead of the Caesar? And does this mean that much of the planning time was wasted? Would you still hear "Great party!" if the afternoon consisted, as your husband had suggested, of Pandora and pizza?
I know I have to pull myself out of this post-party depression... if only to start to address all the things I gave myself permission to postpone until after the festivities. Displacement of obligations is one of the best things about party planning. Who has time to renew a car registration when there are tablecloths and napkins to coordinate? I've been giving this a lot of thought and I realize the best antidote is obvious... clearly I need to start planning my next soirée. And really, who doesn't love a Halloween party?