Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Learn to love your local grocer. I mean it. When time is of the essence, money is tight and you've got a room full of babies, parents and pregnant women, your local grocers deli will fast become your best friend.

My son turned one last week, and thanks to Pinterest I was forced to feel inadequate if I didn't bake a cake from scratch, design delicious finger foods, glue together my own decorations from mason jars and cotton balls, and have a fabulous outfit to greet guests with upon their arrival into our entrance way which I had redecorated using old wood pallets and wine bottles. Seriously? Who has time for that?

No. My son's first birthday party was fabulous in its own glorious pre-packaged way. We went with a Dr. Seuss theme which was not only fun but easy to accomplish. Decorations were purchased on Amazon well ahead of time, and while I had originally planned to cook a bountiful lunch full of fabulous themed food: green eggs and ham, beezlenut juice, and a $200.00 Cat in the Hat cake (yeah, there was no way I was going to take that on solo!) the menu came crashing down rapidly.

The Friday before the party I called the bakery to confirm our order. Two weeks prior my husband and I had sat down with the decorator, brought in pictures of other Cat in the Hat cakes we wanted to emulate (Pinterest again, a gift and a curse) and we were quoted $200.00 for a cake we were sure would knock the socks off of our son and all of our guests. Or so we thought.  The phone call went something like this:

"Hello, I'd like to confirm pick up on a cake we ordered two weeks ago."
"What's the name?"
"<Our  name>"
"We have no order listed under that name."
"Well do you happen to have a Cat in the Hat cake sitting in your fridge?"
"No, we do not."

At this point panic, fear, anger and fury all set in in equal amounts. Since our epic Cat in the Hat cake would no longer be an option we went with plan B - cake balls. Not nearly as impressive to look at, but we learned much easier for toddlers to hold, chew and take with them as party favors. All was forgiven.

Now comes the hard part. Lunch. This party consisted of 4 toddlers, 2 pregnant women, 4 beefcake daddies, 2 other mommies watching their figures and my fabulous, single sister from New York whose lunch usually comes with a cocktail. What to do? What to do? Not only was the group very diverse, but I had ZERO time to cook to suit specific diets; that's where my local grocery store came in.

If you haven't visited the deli section of your grocery store you are missing out. In one swoop I was able to purchase pinwheel sandwiches, chicken wings,  macaroni salad, deviled eggs, a smash cake for the birthday boy and a final stop for strawberries, marshmallows, goldfish crackers and Hawaiian Punch. Lunch was served and I hadn't dirtied a single dish. One beer run and the party was ready to go.

My pre-packaged birthday allowed me to partake in party-action stress-free.  Everyone ate, drank and was merry. No one cared where the food came from as long as they all got to eat. I'll admit a part of me felt as though I cheated, and I questioned my dedication to motherhood for all of two seconds before realizing that being able to put food on the table, home-cooked or not, is the whole point. We mommies are constantly making unrealistic demands of ourselves when really giving ourselves a break and relying on aisle five to help out in a pinch is perfectly fine.




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