I know Halloween is just a warm-up holiday for most of you. It’s like a small stepping stone on the way to Thanksgiving and Christmas (or Hanukkah). Not around here. Halloween is pretty big deal and every year I am scrambling to get things together before the big day. And I’m not just talking about decorations, which, I sadly didn’t even get to pull out this Halloween. No I’m talking about Halloween renovations – this year I was busy trying to install hardwood floors in my kitchen. I didn’t have a chance to start on the floor until last Wednesday, and this is what it looked like.
I barely had enough time to hide my tools and clean the back porch. I couldn’t be the only DIY blogger who lives like this!? This was the aftermath of the party, not too bad.
What’s up with me and Halloween parties? Well, our middle kid, who I call Lulu on here, was born on October 30 and every year we have a Halloween-themed party for her in our back yard. Very original, I know. But she loves it and has never wanted any other kind of party. Let’s have a look down memory lane…
A Halloween Birthday
She was 20 months old when we moved into our house, and we were so fortunate to move into a neighborhood full of awesome families. Her parties have grown every year since her 2nd birthday, which was in 2009.
Our yard was a hot mess! Here’s my friend Heather trying to keep her son from falling in the ditch I dug to try to keep rain water away from our basement. It was issues like these that drove me to makeover my entire yard. Um… don’t you just love how the slide comes right to the back stairs??? Don’t worry, I cleared and leveled the yard so we could make a new home for the swing set, and I eventually rebuild the back stairs too.
The “problem” with her party is that we invite not only her friends, but their parents and siblings as well, which ends up being about 80-90 people. This is why I insist the party stay OUTSIDE. Yup, there have been years when it snowed lightly the morning of the party and I just told people to bundle up. In my defense, we always have a fire going, and if need be use our patio heater and serve hot beverages. For three years in a row we even had a chili cook-off. This year hubby just made hot dogs on the grill.
Here’s 2010, her 3rd birthday. Notice the unfinished retaining wall and gravel “patio.” Yeah, that’s what happens when the township shuts down your yard construction for six months. Who knew you needed permission to tear up your yard with a Bobcat? (Read all about the yard renovations that happened in 2010 here: Part 1 and Part 2)
I spent most of 2010-2011 fighting a legal battle with my neighbor (posts HERE and HERE) and was only given permission from the township to work on my yard in late October. That permission was then revoked and we fought for another year. But anyway… I know it’s not how most people prepare for a birthday party, but the first thing on my party prep list was to install a french drain/downspout extension so nobody would be tripping over trenches like the year before. So we had two days before the party and hubby and I managed to install a french drain and I began building additional retaining walls. We ran out of time, of course, and were weren’t able to finish the gravel or retaining walls.
The yard was much nicer by 2011 and the party had grown. Of course so had my baby, who was now 4! (2011 yard makeover is HERE)
The one year the party was inside was 2012, because that was when Hurricane Sandy hit. The storm was rolling in the day of her party, and understandably half the guests didn’t come, which meant there was enough space for everyone inside the house. Many of our neighborhood friends saw the party as a last hurrah before they were stuck inside for a few days. We live an hour away from the Jersey Shore, much closer to Philadelphia, so we didn’t have major hurricane damage, just lots of rain.
Armed with knowledge that the party would be inside, I took it as an opportunity to finish up my basement remodel, which meant staying up late the night before the party to install vinyl flooring.
Before the 2013 party, her 6th birthday, I was scrambling to get my son’s surf shack bed finished because I knew people were going to want to take a look. I was also busy making his Jake and the Never Land Pirates costume, one of the most popular posts on the blog.
Last year I didn’t even make it out trick-or-treating because I was trying to finish laying the herringbone floor tile in our family room. I was outside in the rain, during the dark of night, cutting tile while hubby was out with the kids trick or treating. I almost finished… there was one section in the corner that I didn’t have enough time to finish, but no one would have even known, if I hadn’t told them. The unfinished spot was covered by an area rug and the couch. And no, it was not grouted either. But it’s okay, our Halloween parties are always OUTSIDE. And apparently I was trying to get a table painted as well.
The problem this year wasn’t the weather, it was a gorgeous fall day, it was actually the fact that Halloween was on a Saturday. With an adult costume party on Friday night and a neighborhood fall festival on Sunday, I was left with no other choice than to have her party on Halloween itself. I called it a trick or treat tailgate and had it from 2-5pm, so people could head right out trick or treating afterwards. I don’t know about your neighborhood, but in my neck of the woods the parents drink while they walk around with their kids. Here’s a picture of me and my girlfriends from 2013. Believe it or not, I was only drinking plain iced tea, but at least I looked the part. (Sorry it’s so blurry)
Last week was a rough week, my little guy was sick and missed 3 days of school and my husband was away all week. I had to plan a party for my Girl Scout troop on Wednesday and there were school parties on Friday. I also got to go in and have lunch with my daughter on Friday. My Dad stayed over Friday night and took us out for Hibachi, plus hubby and I went to a grownup party Friday night. Needless to say, the floor was still not finished an hour before the start time, but I had given myself a cutoff of 1pm because of course I needed a shower and I had not bought any food yet for the party. It’s just how I am.
But it’s okay, because my friends like coming over to marvel at my half-finished projects. It’s like going to a zoo. ‘Let’s see how people live in this habitat with no kitchen or lock on their bathroom door.’ No one complained and everyone had a great time. It just wouldn’t be a party around here if I wasn’t trying to complete a major renovation before a large gathering.