Pax finally had a long-awaited birthday party last night. He obviously didn’t have one last year (pandemic), and the year(s) before that…well. I actually don’t like kid birthday parties (there’s something about unreachable expectations and indulgence that, IDK, makes me give up before I begin), and his birthday sometimes falls on Thanksgiving, so, long-story-short, the kid doesn’t remember his last official birthday party.
And it turns out that Pax loves a party.
Over the past few months we’ve been to weddings and bat/bar mitzvahs, and Pax has been deeply impressed. Lounging at a bar tabletop during the happy hour portion of Gwen’s wedding, he plucked an appetizer off of a passing tray and nonchalantly remarked, “This is the life, Mom.”
Since then, Pax has been asking for a birthday party exactly like Gwen’s wedding. And since I’m a suuuuuper fancy fashion blogger, I totally booked a wedding venue and caterer and a band for an 11th-year-old’s birthday party! Anything for my sweet baby boy!!
But we did end up throwing a big ‘ol bash on Friday that was so stupidly fun, I’m tempted to make it an annual thing. And yes: it was totally inspired by Gwen’s wedding.
Instead of a venue and a caterer and a band…we had it at home, with Trader Joe’s apps and a portable speaker.
But it was fancy dress. We had heating lamps outside for the half-vaxxed kids, the rest of us roamed around inside.Putting my blogger advantage to use, I added a coat rack to our back patio with a bunch of faux-fur coats for the kids to borrow, so they could be both fancy and warm.
But the real stroke of genius? We “hired” Raines and his friends as servers.
The day of the party, I went to Trader Joe’s and bought a bunch of appetizers that just needed to be warmed in the oven (the entire cartful came to $138; god I love Trader Joe’s), and made a crockpot full of chili (per my usual hosting strategy). I had bought a few round, waiter-style trays on Amazon, some fancy napkins, cocktail umbrellas, and tiny little bamboo appetizer plates.
Happily, Linzi’s Dad has catering experience, and came over to help. Frankly, he was the star of the show. He spent an hour training our motley crew (all dressed in white and black) in things like food safety, being courteous to “guests” and managed to do it in a serious (yet fun) way that was…shockingly effective. The “bigs” (as we call them) all totally rose to the challenge. And so, by the time the first guest arrived, they were welcomed at the door with a cocktail-umbrella-decorated Shirley Temple, and their coat was whisked away and hung…somewhere.
Me, all night: “Welcome!!! Go ahead out back! And…umm…there’s no booze in that one let me take it back to the kitchen, the real bar’s over there…”
This crew of 8th graders walked trays of appetizers around like they were…25 years old. Frankly, a few times during the party I forgot that it was just my kid and his friends because they were just so casually good at it. They pulled sheet pans of appetizers out of the oven, used spatulas to plate them on tiny bamboo plates and decorated them with edible flowers (a really stellar touch by Linzi’s Dad). Pax had asked for mini grilled cheeses…a request I immediately dismissed as too much work, but Linz’s Dad made that happen, too, and a few of Raines’ friends took turns working the griddle and cutting and plating little grilled cheese sandwiches.
It was a wild success. And it’s amazing how much a party can feel like a PARTY just by fancy dress and passed appetizers (even if the apps are mini grilled cheeses and they’re being passed by a big brother or sister or two).
I did add a few fancy details: I couldn’t resist getting those balloons that spell out “PAX” (one good thing about a short name), and we hired a photo booth to be set up on our back patio. I raided our dress-up box, and put out some props (wigs, sunglasses, batman masks, etc.,).
The consensus (by the adults at least) was that we obviously need to start making our kids function as servers at ALL of our parties. Just gotta be sure we don’t confuse the pitchers of Negronis with Shirley Temples. Turns out they look verrrrry similar.
Ps. If you are in the Philadelphia area, Koretta, who owns Legacy Photobooths, is so fun to work with. She was amazing with all of the kids (even Linzi’s youngest, who may have taken 70 solo photos, haha) and coaxed some really good ones out of the adults as well.
I’m into stretchy jeans again. Maybe it’s because Thanksgiving is looming, but I’ve been wearing my super-comfy FRAME flares AND/OR these new AG Mari Jeans a ton. I still like my rigid denim, but man. It’s hard to beat that stretch. Both pairs of jeans are part of Saks’ Black Friday Sale, and I just added my personal picks (with photos of those jeans) into our Best of Saks’ Black Friday article.
Silk pajamas on sale!!! Lunya, the maker of the most delicious silk pajamas, is having, for the first time EVER, a Black Friday sale!! They’re currently offering 26% off site wide. Whoa. This is a BIG deal. That said…I do have a word of caution: if you tend to carry weight in your middle, or if you hate having anything tight around your middle while you sleep…I’ve found that Lunya waistbands are much too tight. For that reason, I’m currently sleeping in Quince silk pajamas. The construction is not nearly as thoughtfully designed (Amy actually did a good comparison, here), but I find Quince more comfortable than Lunya.
Still wearing that dress. I just wore that silk, leopard print Reformation dress (from Gwen’s rehearsal dinner) to Pax’s birthday party. Happily, it fits over a black turtleneck, which means I now have a cute option for winter parties, too. Ref recently re-stocked it in all sizes, with a bunch of new colors/prints.
Speaking of party dresses….Nordstrom just started carrying ASOS’ in-house label and their holiday collection is jaw-dropping (and selling fast). If you appreciate some sparkle and drama (oh hey SCOTTI), this stuff is for you. Case in point? THIS DRESS.
Not a regular shirtdress. I keep coming back to French Connection’s plaid (flannel?) shirtdress. There’s something just a liiiiitle different about it, an almost deconstructed vibe. It’s a really good plaid, too. Can’t stop thinking about it.
OK FINE, not a dress. Two cute black tops that are NOT expensive: This puffed sleeve one from Nordstrom that has just exactly the right shape…and this cool one with faux leather sleeves.
The one BF sale I never miss? Wool socks at Backcountry. While I’ve been a Smartwool gal in the past…I’m all in on Darn Tough socks this year. They’re made in Vermont, and remind me of Smartwool socks from 10 years ago: shockingly durable and good.
Can we talk about vests? I haven’t really worn them in years, but Amy has been swearing by them. She’s even wearing hers with leggings, for Pete’s sake, so now I’m…vest-curious. And this one has a pretty emerald green zipper and I seem completely unable to resist emerald green anything right now.
Our Toy Guide is out! Linz and I finally updated The Ultimate Toy Guide: The Best Toys For Every Age & Stage. And…I think we’re going to hop onto Amazon Live next week and talk about some of our favorite forever toys (the toys that our boys have been playing with for five years or more). Let us know if you have any questions.
Ugh. So the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict was just released and I am…not surprised. Regardless of who did what in blurry drone footage…the fact remains that a white dude was allowed to walk down the street — during a protest — with an assault rifle, kill people and walk away free, while Black men have been in jail for years awaiting trial for things like…maybe stealing a backpack. Ok. Clearly there is something wrong with our system. I appreciated So.Informed’s little discussion primer, if you are maybe spending Thanksgiving with tricky relatives and potentially need help articulating some salient points on topics like the this one.
Happy weekend, everyone!
Re: Lunya – I agree on the silk waistbands and would add their organic pima is a little more forgiving even in my usual size. I wear my pima set from them far more often than my silk one.
Ringing +1 endorsement of the AG Maris here. That stretch has been lovely as I ease out of my sweats/joggers. The Paige jeans from the Nordstrom anni sale have been great too.
Love the whole Pax extravaganza concept! Looking forward to throwing my kiddo a big party next spring too, having missed a few parties now due to Covid. Thankful for their resilience.
The AG Mari are great! Look good and are so comfortable.
The birthday was an amazing idea! I’m sure everyone appreciated it, adults and kids.
Shout out for Darn Tough! Only socks my winemaking husband wears for work (aka, standing in boots on wet floors 8 hours a day). If ANYTHING goes wrong with a pair, send them in and they send back a credit to use online for a new pair. Fantastic, American company!
Also, you ladies are all fantastic! Happy holidays!
Party sounded great! I appreciate your ok’ing stretchy jeans! I’ve been trying to stretch out the nonstretchy Mothers I bought a few years ago so I can wear them when I visit Philly next month. No more! Instead, I am resurrecting my super-comfy Athleta stretch jeans.and will try the Maris. Also—thanks to you— I am buying Darn Tough hiking socks. Smartwool was always my go-to, but lately I’ve been disappointed. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your lovely family!
I love these posts and have missed them. As a parent of two boys around the same age, I always relate.
So you know, some of your readers are those tricky relatives that think details like “who did what in blurry drone footage” matter when someone is on trial. After months of a hiatus from this site, and excited to see what content is coming for the holidays, I’m disappointed to still see this narrative that everything is about racism and taken further that white men need to pay for the injustices of unrelated cases.
White supremacy is what brought Kyle Rittenhouse out in the streets of Kenosha that night. White supremacy is him not being shot or even apprehended by police after he shot three people protesting against white supremacy, killing two of them on the street in front of the police. White supremacy is being granted bail at all. White supremacy is the media treating him as a “misguided young man.” White supremacy is the fact that he was lauded as a hero and offered internships by elected officials before his trial was even over. White supremacy is never having to face consequences for your actions.
White supremacy built the very system that protects and benefits white men like Kyle Rittenhouse.
Bottom line? The second some white dude drives to another city armed with an assault rifle to intimidate BLM protestors…yeah. It is is DEFINITELY about race.
I respect you and appreciate the reply. I think you missed that I was simply pointing out your readers are not all of one viewpoint and life outlook. Pinning every poor choice on white supremacy terrifies me as a mother of two boys and the husband of a police officer. I thought this an interesting comparison if you are interested in cases where people of any race can be acquitted of murder: https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2021/11/21/florida-man-acquitted-of-murder-charges-same-day-as-kyle-rittenhouse/
Amber, I do appreciate you hanging in here with me (which is why I’m responding instead of working on black friday coverage, haha). For me, the crucial difference is that Kyle Rittenhouse went out, armed with an assault rifle, seeking to intimidate people who care about black lives. In the Breitbart article, the Black man acquitted was defending himself during a SWAT raid on his home. He did not seek out the violence, it literally came to him. In fact, according to that article, his girlfriend was shot (10 times) by police during that same raid.
These two scenarios seem VERY different to me.
I also think…that white supremacy is dangerous for our (white) boys as well. Kyle Rittenhouse was allowed to shoot three people – in front of police officers – without being arrested. And those three people happened to be white. White supremacy ran so strongly through Kyle and the police officers around him that Kyle was allowed to shoot anyone who cared about Black lives – whether they were Black or white.
White supremacy is clearly a threat to anyone who really does value all lives.