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Birthday Blowout

My husband and I decided to throw a small party for Mikey’s 4th birthday.

We weren’t even sure if birthday parties are considered socially acceptable with the pandemic ongoing, but after talking with other parents, it was obvious that many families have, at this point, adopted a “c’est la vie” attitude.


So we made a list of some of Mikey’s friends from school. Then his cousins, family friends, the neighbor kid down the street.

Each kid has two parents. Many have siblings.

Add in the grandparents.

The final guest list was 49 people long. For perspective, Mike and I had 70 people at our wedding. Hands down, the kid has more friends than we do.

With that many potential attendees it was obvious we couldn’t have the party at our house because it just isn’t big enough. His birthday was March 7, which meant we couldn’t rely on the weather to cooperate for an outdoor gathering.

We looked into having the party at a bowling alley or roller rink, renting out a movie theater, or going to one of those entertainment centers that are full of trampolines and arcade games, but all those options got costly considering the number of attendees.

Then we discovered we could rent a large space at the local recreation center for $60 an hour. Great! We booked two hours, opted to simply have pizza and cake and call it a wrap.

Two weeks before the event we made a trip to the party store to get whatever goods we needed. The center can set up tables that seat eight, so we grab six Spiderman table coverings. Then two more for the food/cake table. Oh, and another for the gift table. At $2.99 a pop that’s about $27.

Then we needed plates. We got three packages of 25 large plastic plates for the pizza, because to get just 50 seems like cutting it close. We opted for just plain white so that only set us back about $12.

Then, of course, we had to get little plates for the cake, and we let Mikey pick out the Baby Yoda ones, which came in packages of eight for $2.99 each. So that was another $24.

Avengers napkins cost us about $15 (we only got those for the cake). Plain white napkins for the pizza were $3.99.

We didn’t need cups because we got bottles of water, cans of soda and juice boxes.

We did, however, “need” to get candy, bubbles, stickers and other junk to assemble party favor bags. And also to stuff the Baby Yoda pinata ($20). Honestly, I’m not even sure how much that netted out to.

We headed to Stop & Shop the day before the party to get the drinks, as well as some pretzel snack packs, a fruit tray and a vegetable tray. I believe that was another $50. Honestly, by that time I tried to stop counting.

Oh, wait, back up… We ordered a Spiderman cake earlier in the week, which cost us almost $70.

Then there was the pizza. Now, if you are from any sort of “ethnic” family, you’re going to understand this math: For 18 kids we figured about 1.5 slices per child, thinking some will only eat half a slice, and others could eat two whole slices (the pizza shop “double cut” the slices for the kids).

For the 30 adults, we figured three — yes, three — slices per person, because we are Italian and never, under any circumstance, want to end up with not enough food.

So, if my math is correct, that’s 117 slices. Each pizza has eight slices so that’s about 14.5 pizzas. We decided to be a little risky and only order 13. Each pizza was about $14, so that came to about $180.

Let’s see… what else?

Oh, we ordered some silk capes and masks for the kids to decorate with felt and jewel embellishments. I have to admit, that was more fun for me and Mike to pick out. Anyway, that was about $30.

Then balloons. Who knew balloons were so expensive?! One Baby Yoda balloon, one Spiderman balloon, one number 4 balloon and a handful of assorted color rubber balloons cost us another $40.

I’m not sure what the grand total is. You can add it up if you like but, please, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.

Let’s not forget, that doesn’t even include the birthday gifts we bought for Mikey!

But it was all worth it because our little tyrant had a blast on his special day, surrounded by friends and family, and after having to forgo traditional birthday celebrations the past two years due to the pandemic, it was a welcome sight to see.

And we had pizza for days.

But next year, maybe we’ll just go to Disney World. It will probably be cheaper.

Holly Crocco is editor of the Putnam County Times/Press and mother of a 4-year-old. She can be reached at


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