May 19 2013

From Beer Pong to Bounce Houses – Partying at 30

In your 20s, an invitation to a birthday party almost inevitably constitutes an invitation to drink too much, act a little stupid and regret it all over a Denny’s Grand Slam the next morning. Among your biggest pre-party concerns: What do I wear? Is my ex going to be there? Should I bring the 12- or the 18-pack?

The birthday party invite you get in your 30s, I’m discovering, is a bit of a different animal. That’s because it is often not for your friends at all, but rather for your friends’ offspring.

With a social calendar that has ballooned in recent years to include engagement parties, weddings and baby showers, I suppose it comes as no surprise that the last few parties I’ve been invited to have been for kids’ birthdays. Logical next step, right?

Still, it’s a little disorienting to enter this brave new world in which pre-party rituals include trips to Babies R Us instead of BevMo, where party entertainment includes inflatable bounce houses in place of beer pong, and where chatter amongst partygoers revolves around daycare and disciplinary tactics rather than the best techniques for consuming a Jell-O shot.

This is a world where post-party cleanup, which once involved the discovery of random beer bottles behind the toilet, now centers on haphazard frosting smears and accidents involving bodily fluids. (Ok, maybe bodily fluids are par for the course at parties at any age.)

As a single gal sans children, I can’t help but feel a tad out of place at little ones’ parties. I mean, am I allowed to ask for a Heineken to chase that over-frosted piece of cake, or is this a juice box only zone? (Kids can be so judgmental!) And for those of us who don’t have rugrats of our own just yet, what is the appropriate way to engage in conversation with the moms and dads in the room about Little League and Baby Gap?

Don’t get me wrong, kids’ parties aren’t all bad – I think I had as good a time as any of the eight-year-old guests at a recent rager at the local children’s museum – it’s just that it’s a whole new social landscape that we must learn to navigate in our 30s, and it can be a bit of a culture shock for those of us yet to jump on the baby bandwagon ourselves.

Then again, maybe it’s not so different from our college days. Whether it’s a 1st birthday party or a 21st birthday party, the guest of honor is going to spill their drink down their shirt, talk nonsense and need to be carried to bed.


  1. Erin

    Believe me, I asked if adult beverages were allowed at the children’s museum. To which I was immediately looked at like an unfit alcoholic mother. How did they pin me so quickly?

  2. Angie

    Maybe you haven’t been to any of my relatives kids parties, plenty of beer and hard liquor to go around….. 😉

    Erin, that’s hilarious. Which takes the children’s museum off my potential venues for my almost 4 year old.

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