Best of Both Worlds podcast: Parties + celebrations

There’s nothing quite like bringing friends together to celebrate — it’s something many of us missed during the darkest days of Covid.

In this week’s episode of Best of Both Worlds, Sarah and I discuss parties and celebrations in general. What are some memorable ones we’ve attended (or thrown)? We share the elements of a good gathering (with a shout out to Priya Parker’s The Art of Gathering), and talk about details not to forget (like where do people park?). We share our favorite party snacks and treats.

Finally, since we’ve both hosted and attended a great many kid birthday parties, we talk about these as well. What are your favorite and least favorite kid birthday party favors? Are you team host at home or at a venue?

Please give the episode a listen, and as always we appreciate ratings and reviews. This is episode #299 and #300 will be coming next week!

In other podcast news: The Next Big Idea Club is featuring Tranquility by Tuesday on its podcast this week. There will be a few short episodes; please check out this one on Rule #1: Give yourself a bedtime.

10 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds podcast: Parties + celebrations

  1. My son turns 6 in August and is having a Viking/How to Train Your Dragon party…I normally look to parties with some trepidation but this will be decently small and I think I can have fun with the theme. My parents will also be visiting that weekend so I’ll have some extra hands.

    We’ll do choose your own toppings pizza, fruit and veg trays (I hear you on the broccoli), and cake
    Paint a viking shield and a dragon egg (papermache eggs I bought at Easter), archery, and watch the HTTYD movie with popcorn.

    I’m hoping parents will drop off. Everyone stayed for his 5th birthday, and we ran out of cake! We said feel free to dropoff, but think people felt like it was a fun social thing. Which was nice but our house is 1000 square feet, and 30 people was far too many.

    1. @Coree – I love the viking/how to train your dragon theme. And funny that you are trying to get parents to leave. Please, let me take your kid for 2 hours!!

  2. I hate, hate, hate party favour bags. So much plastic junk – it can really add up to be quite expensive, too, to fill lots of bags full of said junk – and everything usually ends up in the trash or donation pile.

    – Have the kids make something (like if you paint a mug at a pottery place for the party, that IS the favour).
    – Have a prize bin. This was my daughter’s idea for her party this year and it was great. We bought an assortment of small gifts (but not tiny knickknacks) – things like hair scrunchies, notebooks, gel pens, some candy bars and kids won activities and would get to select their own prize.
    – We always, always do a candy hunt. Each kid gets a small bag and whatever candy they find it part of what they take home (Hershey’s Kisses are a fav, and I find most kids just eat what they find while at the party).

    I used to prefer a venue when the kids were little, but now like to host at home so I don’t have to lug stuff to a second place. We’ve done movie parties, this year was all about games (that my daughter picked, including classics like Musical Chairs). Last year for my daughter’s party she asked to MAKE her birthday cake with her friends as part of the party which I loved as it killed two birds with one stone. We labelled all the steps for making the cake and kids would draw slips out of a hat to see what they would do to help bake the cake.

    We have also traditionally alternated “big” and “little” years. On “big” years you can invite as many friends as your age and it’s an afternoon party with snacks and cake; on “little” years it’s a max of 3 guests, but they come for a meal.

    1. I hate favor bags too!
      I’ve gone to Amazing Savings and bought a stack of $3 books or $4 lego packs, which have always been a hit.
      When my kids were little, I went to the dollar store and bought each kid a pail, shovel, and sidewalk chalk (or something like that) for a total of $3 apiece.
      One year, I also once gave out gift cards for ice cream scoops at our fave local spot.
      This year, my kid demanded goody bags so we got reusable pencil cases and filled them with pencils and those pop-em fidgets, all of which were super cheap to mail order.
      I love the prize bin idea!

      1. @Elisa – Amazon is pretty good for bulk stuff at a reasonable price. For my 8-year-old’s birthday, we got like a 36 count box of sidewalk chalk sets (5 pieces each). We also got a bulk package (48 count) of rock candy sticks. So both consumable and thus not contributing to the junk pile.

  3. Maybe I am the contrarian, but I do like raw broccoli and cauliflower. I’m more likely to take those than carrots which are just kind of boring to me?

    We are having our first kid party w/ friends in the coming weeks for our 5 year old. We decided to have a house rule of not having friend parties until they turn 5. Prior to that, the parties are family only. People at school started to have parties around age 3 but we just opted out and our son never questioned why he wasn’t having a party. Most kids at our school have a park party – you pick a park, bring treats, and say no gifts – and people comply. Similarly, there are no treat bags. I am anti-treat bags/favors. I am going to try to continue to NOT do favors/treat bags.

    1. @Lisa – Sarah sent me a picture of one of her kids eating the broccoli/cauliflower from those trays, so I stand corrected!

      1. I also love the raw broccoli and cauliflower!! I’d much rather have those than the carrots, too!!

        I was semi-horrified by Sarah’s comment that she had a party for her 9 year old and a bunch of parents STAYED?! I can’t even imagine. I would not have been expecting that OR been prepared with drinks, snacks, etc of the adult variety! I’d have been like….oh….um…. anyone want some pretzels from a possibly stale bag in the pantry?? hahaha. (I mean, I’d have been ready for kids + activities+ kid snacks + juice boxes + probably a kid-friendly pizza order, but I definitely wouldn’t expect any parents to stay.) In fact, I remember hosting a party for my son in 4k turning 5 years old (just 3-5 closer friends) and the parents didn’t even stay then, either! Maybe it would be different if it were like a pool party or outdoor thing? But this was in December, and the activities were taking place in our basement rec room.

        1. @Grateful Kae – having a dozen adults hanging out in the rec room would indeed be an experience…

  4. Why do party favors exist? All parents I know hate them.

    Laura, you said you needed new ideas for a book. I would love a book on time management in a not normal life (e.g. someone with chronic illness, a single parent, someone who has a massive commute, some with a special needs child etc) and/or a book on how to prioritize and find out what you want and should spend your time on.

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