I turned 40 and threw myself a roller skating birthday party. I rented out the whole rink and rolled myself around on that black-lit oval until I was dizzy with happiness.
On the 50th anniversary of NASA’s moon landing, I made cupcakes with gray icing and placed a flag on the table with pride as if I’d been the one leaving my dusty footprints there myself. And who doesn’t celebrate the Kentucky Derby (it’s the first Sunday in May, if you want to join in next year) by putting a hat on and pretending you know how to make bets on horses you’ve never heard of?
I’d never bought mint for anything in my life, but that seemed necessary for the authenticity of this particular celebration. Turns out a nonalcoholic mint julep is sweeter than sweet and not nearly as minty as you’d think.
While these are days and events many people join in on, if it’s a Wednesday and you want to celebrate that you’ve finally finished a long binge of a TV show that was popular a decade ago, I’m ready to woohoo right along with you.
What’s funny is that I don’t normally enjoy a gathering. I will start perspiring over details as soon as I’m invited to anything. Will I know anyone? What will I talk about? What’s the right time to show up? What do I wear? Do I text someone else who is attending to find out what they are wearing like it’s seventh grade all over again (oh, the horrible flashbacks)? Which is way less brave than having to pick up the phone and speak words to someone about what they are wearing like in the olden days.
Take a trip with me to 1991: “What are you wearing to the dance?”
“There’s a dance? (I know there is a dance, but chill is my middle name, obviously.) I haven’t thought about it. What are you wearing?”
Feel free to steal this signature go-to tactic I’ve used dozens of times to not seem like a complete fashion idiot and scaredy-cat. I’ll find out what she’s wearing, then I’ll wear something slightly less appealing hoping to take all attention off me so I can stand in a corner and pretend to enjoy myself but really just wait to go home.
I surprise myself sometimes that the seventh grade girl who will go into panic attack mode over an outfit and will, even now as a grown person, stew over how to ensure that other people are having a good time, continues to celebrate events, milestones and a random weekday just because. Maybe I’m trying to make up for the celebrations I missed because of insecurity and doubt. But more likely, I’ve just discovered that it’s more fun to make an event out of any, ordinary day, even if I have to power through the swirling second, third and fourth thoughts. I have the fun angel on one shoulder and the party pooper devil on the other. I’m always glad when I let the fun angel with sparkled wings and a party hat win.
On my favorite episode of “Parks and Recreation,” Leslie Knope’s best friend is moving away, and she throws her a party I wish I had thought of myself. It’s a party with every holiday represented in one. Why shouldn’t you celebrate Easter, Fourth of July and Halloween all at once? After all, don’t the stores overlap all of these quicker than we can keep up anyway? Rob Lowe’s character would wholeheartedly believe it was “LIT-erally” the best celebration he’s ever been to. I immediately added this to my bucket list of parties to throw. Oh, Leslie, I hope I make you proud.
With the popularity of national holidays, it’s easy to think you are celebrating “Be a Dork Day” or “Gummy Worm Day” by posting a selfie of you being a dork or eating a gummy worm, but feel free to bump that up a notch and create a memorable event. Try making up a funny poem about gummy worms as a family around the dinner table or watch a how it’s made video on YouTube (because you know there is one out there).
The internet definition of “celebration” is to acknowledge (a significant or happy day or event) with a social gathering or enjoyable activity. I’ve discovered that even though my children are older now, I can enjoy a laugh and feel like a kid again no matter who is around me. Here is what I have learned so that I am ready for “Sunday, Monday, Happy Days. Tuesday, Wednesday, Happy Days …”
Be ready, because people will roll their eyes at you and even tell you that it’s lame or weird, but most of the time the word they are looking for is “fun,” so in a few days when they mention it to you, remind them that they thought it was dumb, and then gently tell them they were wrong. Internally celebrate your win.
Have a variety of hats on hand, or you can stick anything into a ponytail holder or on a headband – any small flag, flower or balloon will work.
Basic-colored and/or white Christmas tree lights will add sparkle to an ordinary day.
Keep markers, markers and more markers of every shape and color handy. I’m not able to draw, but I can write words, quotes, funny anecdotes on signs, windows, mirrors and paper plates to initiate a giggle.
Did you know you can find printable bingo cards for anything? No work or assembly required! That’s a party right there, my friends.
Most importantly, keep a bag ready with noisemakers, bubbles, confetti and glitter. Instant celebration! Disclaimer: If you hate glitter, please seek help. It’s not scary. It seems messy, but then it magically disappears somehow, so let the glitter fly.
Once you have these things locked and loaded, you don’t have to spend any money to turn the next day into a party and probably a funny story to tell for a long time. You can hot glue your heart out and your fingers together if you want to, but that sucks the fun right out of it for me. Keep it simple, laugh and just be ready to live in the moment and bottle it up with other sweet memories.