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Throwing a Birthday Party: Do’s and Don’ts

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Birthday parties as a kid were the best. You got wolf down ice cream while presents were shuffled past you and if you acted like a brat you got put in time out. It was all very democratic. I distinctly remember go down a slide that extended out of the Hamburglar’s mouth and eating nuggets til I wanted to puke. Sigh. Now it’s all about pricey booze, group dinners and trekking out into unfamiliar territory. Don’t get me wrong, I love birthday parties, I enjoy planning fun things and any excuse to over indulge. That being said, it feels like I attend at least two a week and there’s some reoccurring trends I’ve been noticing lately.

Fancy Dinners

One of the best things about having a birthday is being taken out to dinner. We’re at the age where we’ve moved beyond the byob Chinese place down the street but not quite affluent enough for the 5 course tasting menu for 15. If you want to do the dinner thing, keep it small, don’t invite you and your “closest” 20 friends. If you want to invite a ton of people then just have a damn party. Nobody likes being stuck at the end of a banquet table sitting next to some strangers they don’t even know. That’s what weddings are for. And because not everyone has saved up foie gras funds, pick a place that everyone can actually afford to dine there. And of course there’s always that one person. You know the one.  They end up ordering a Filet Mignon when everyone else gets a appetizer and then they have the gall to announce “Let’s split the bill”.  These people should not be allowed to have friends.

Celebration Marathons

I know you don’t want the fun to end, but really it’s called Birth-day for a reason. You get ONE day not an entire weekend.  You are not Mariah Carey and this is not your Sweet Sixteen. Unless you want to plan some sort of getaway trip or  your parents want to take you out and not your entire social circle, keep it simple. I remember attending three different outings for one birthday. There was a dinner, a house party the next day and bar night the next. It was like a really expensive sleepover without the Funfetti cake. I know writing this article makes me sound like a total killjoy but if you want to find out where all your non-disposable income is going, count up all the birthday bar tabs you’ve had in the last month and then you’ll see where I’m coming from.

Pick A Central Location

I love me a good house party. They’re cheap, you can usually stay as late as you want, and they usually have a more the merrier policy. Whether you’re hosting at a bar, or your house, it’s always nice to pick a location that doesn’t require a GPS to locate. It can be tricky when it comes to multiple boroughs, but pick a neighborhood that everyone knows and you’re smooth sailing. I got nothing against Harlem but that doesn’t mean I want to spend my entire Saturday night there. Same goes for anything that is only accessible by bus or requires a tour guide to get there. If it takes more than 40 minutes just to get there, there better be free booze waiting for me at the destination.

Group Activities

Back in the day it was all about Chuck E Cheese and go-karts, but even when we grow up our love for group activities never fades. I can’t tell you how many bowling and karaoke parties I’ve attended. And that’s fine by me, I probably enjoy those two things almost too much. But when you plan one of these things, I hope all your friends enjoy these things too. A lot of the time you don’t even get to talk to your friends because you’re separated by a bowling lane or a wall in a backroom in Koreatown. The one thing that makes me groan is when Guitar Hero gets brought out. Nothing kills a party more than standing around like a bunch of idiots watching someone try to “shred” on a Lynyrd Skynyrd song. Really video games in general at a birthday party make me want to dose myself with Quaaludes and grain alcohol.

So can I come to your party?

Photos Courtesy of: Lies Young Women Believe, Flickr, Pop Crunch, Brownstoner, Feld Thoughts

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Laura S - Spendthrift Scribe

Laura S - Spendthrift Scribe

Laura S, left the "sixth borough" three years ago to settle in Brooklyn. After working at some daily rags, she now does writing on the side but still eats more Ramen then necessary. When she's not moving residences every 6 months, eating her way through every neighborhood, and trying every microbrew known to man, she is unsuccessfully rediscovering home economics. With her binging days behind her, she's now exploring new projects and rediscovering the city that she loves (although is still prone to sliding on her knees during a Prince karaoke set).