Remember going to parties where you and your friends laughed, flirted, did Jell-O shots, and danced on tables into the wee hours? Yeah, me neither. But people took pictures, so I guess it really did happen. These days our parties are drastically different. For one thing, they are few and far between. Who’s got time? Or energy? For another, they usually include kids. No problem, you get to see your friends without worrying about a babysitter, right? And yet, once you add kids to the mix, a party takes on a whole new life.
First, they must be carefully scheduled between naptime and bedtime. So out with the late-night cocktail parties, in with the afternoon BBQs. Since at least a third of the guests are probably pregnant or breastfeeding, you don’t need nearly as much liquor. Out with the kegs, in with the six-packs. And forget about dressing sexy. You’re going to be squatting and lifting and probably getting juice spilled on you. And if my son sees even the tiniest bit of flesh -- say, if I’m coming out of the shower in a towel -- he shouts, “You nakey, Mommy!” Besides, it’s just not cool if half the guests at the party are shorter than your hemline.
One good thing about post-kid parties is the food is usually great. We recently attended a christening celebration for a friend’s daughter. This is a guy whose parties used to feature beer pong, shirtless frat boys, and a few open bags of chips. Imagine my surprise when our host ushered us in to a posh, lavishly catered affair. There was not a keg or funnel in sight. And the only people who passed out or threw up were the babies.
The mark of a thoughtful family-friendly party is juice boxes and Goldfish alongside the Chardonnay and brie. If only we could keep the good stuff out of reach of the kids. I have witnessed more than one child (including my own) pick up a chip, lick it, and put it back in the bowl. I’ve often wished someone would invent a 5-foot-high coffee table. It’s the only way to protect the hors d’oeuvres from sticky little mitts.
At a “with kids” party, you’ve got to watch your step. You could stomp on a crawler or trip over a toy. And watch where you sit, too -- someone might have spit out a wad of spinach dip on your seat. If you’re the host, you’ve got to expect spills and messes. The best you can do is to serve apple juice instead of grape, and hope the dog eats the food that ends up on the floor before a baby gets it.
I actually don’t mind the chaos of kid-friendly parties. It’s fun to see all the kids together, and everyone’s pretty much in the same boat. I do miss those long conversations in the kitchen when the party wound down, though. Finishing off the last of the wine, kicking off your shoes, and cranking up the music. At our last get-together, the only ones dancing were the under-3 set. Times have changed, sure. But an impromptu toddler dance party is way cuter than a sloppy-drunk bachelorette singing karaoke, don’t you think?