In November, about a month before Annabelle’s 7th birthday, Matt and I asked her what she wanted to do for her party this year. We told her that she had to keep it small, with just a few friends at our house. She thought that over for about ten seconds and then blurted out, “I want a spa party!”
Spa party? I was a little surprised to hear my then 6 year old say that she wanted a spa birthday party. I mean, I don’t think I even knew what a spa was until I was 18 and my best friend Lauren told me that I needed to relax. Even at 18, I had a tendency to be tightly wound, constantly worried about getting into college and keeping my grades up. So she bought me a one hour massage for my birthday. Nice friend, right? I did appreciate the gesture, but what I remember about that massage was laying there the entire time on the table with just a towel between me and a gorgeous masseuse, and thinking oh my dear Lord, why did I agree to this? I never did relax through the entire massage, and I was more than grateful when the masseuse announced that my house was up and I could get dressed.
Don’t get me wrong. I do appreciate the idea of relaxation. I appreciate letting go and unwinding. To be honest, I practice yoga because I am so uptight. I walk into class twice a week with a group of people who I suspect like me, are a bunch of tightly wound women and men. We all roll out our mats and twist our bodies into pretzels so that we can pretend that we’re normal. You know. Well adjusted. Relaxed.
But I digress. So when my daughter looked up at me with excitement in her eyes over the idea of a spa party, all I could say was,
“Spa party?” And she hurriedly answered, “Yeah. You know. Like manicures, pedicures, cucumbers on our eyes. That kind of thing.”
So I did what I do whenever I don’t know much about something. I worried and then I opened my laptop and googled spa birthday party.
The easiest and most expensive option for hosting a spa party is to hire a company to come and give a spa party at your house. The only problem with that option is that I like to make life difficult and I’m cheap. So I decided to find a different route.
I checked pinterest. There I seemed to hit the mother load of little girl spa parties, all organized and hosted by moms. I did what any good party planner would do; I copied. I made a list of possible spa things to do and made a plan of attack. I knew I could save a lot by raiding the Dollar Store and the dollar bins at Target for party decorations and spa supplies, and I came up with a budget. I didn’t want to spend more than $100 on her party and I knew that in order to do that I’d have to get spa supplies for little to nothing and do all the work myself.
I got in way over my head.
Putting together the gift/spa bags for each invitee was easy enough. We purchased the materials, like I said, at the Dollar Store, Target and CVS. I bought pedicure kits ($1 each), fuzzy spa socks ($1 a pair), nail polish, nail files, stretchy head bands for facials (3 for $1), facial applicators ($1), chapstick ($1 for a pack of 2), sleeping masks ($1 each), and girly bracelets ( on Amazon $10 for a box of 30–each girl got 3 bracelets). I spent about $80 to put together the spa gift bags for 9 girls.
I also had to buy soaking salts ($1), lotions (Burts Bees on clearance at CVS for $4), and facial masks ($8 total). I went over budget though because I picked up sparkly facial stickers at CVS for another $5-$10 and I bought an ice cream cake and cookies for an additional $40. Still, altogether the spa party came in way under the cost of previous years’ parties that ranged from $300 a party to $500 and up.
Anyway, as I said I got in way over my head. To set the scene, I kicked out my husband and Levi (which in retrospect was a bad move. They could have been lovely towel boys or additional pedicurists). I set Pandora Radio to Enya and lit scented candles around our house. The girls all arrived in their bathrobes and changed into flip flops or slippers. They were all jumping around, giggling and quite thrilled to be attending a spa. And at that moment in the party, I was excited for them.
I gave each girl a welcome letter that explained the different spa stations and what they would do there, and then divided the girls into two groups. Because it was just me and 9 girls, I told 4 of the girls to go to the foot relaxation station and the other 5 to have snacks and bottled water while they read magazines and books in the waiting station. The girls loved the waiting station. Until about 5 minutes into the party. And then they were all like, “Mrs. Monte, when is it my turn to get my pedicure?” ”I read all the books. I’m done snacking.” ”I’m bored.”
Meanwhile I was running back and forth between our living room and the kitchen to fill up small tubs with water and soaking salts. I heard a variety of responses from the girls at the foot relaxation pedicure station, “My water is too cold!” ”My water is too hot!” ”I don’t want to soak my feet.” And “Can you add another coat to that nail, it’s not showing up enough.” I did however get to spend lots of time chit chatting with Annabelle’s friends and I got them to talk to each other by having them go around the room saying what their favorite things were. I will say that this was probably my favorite part of hosting a spa party. I really got to talk to Annabelle’s friends and find out who my daughter is becoming friends with in elementary school.
I did however keep an eye on the clock to see how much time all the pedicures were taking. After about an hour and a half of pedicures and me instructing Annabelle to take her friends on a tour of the house and to play with whatever they liked in the play room and in her room, all the girls had painted toes and were ready for the facial station. I think they liked the facial station the best because they just had to paint their friends’ face with goo, collect two slices of cucumber and then go over to the living room to kick back and relax. I liked the facial station too because all I had to do was hand out facial goo and cucumbers.
I gave the girls about 5 minutes to relax and then invited them over to wash their faces off. And I heard, “Mrs. Monte, I can’t get the goo off. It’s stuck to my eye brows.” ”Mrs. Monte, can you wash my face for me? I can’t get it out of my hair.” And on and on. Luckily, I had the foresight to buy lots of facial wipes which I handed out left and right.
Around that time, the first of the parents rang the door bell, and I started to worry.
I hadn’t even served the girls cake. So I welcomed in the parents and invited them to relax in our spa. One girl’s babysitter came to pick her up and I think when she looked around and saw all the towels on the floor, spa supplies making a trail from our front door through the living room and into the kitchen, she took pity on me. She and I finished removing the facial goo and then we started to serve cake. Around that time, Matt came home with Levi and I gave a small sigh of relief. The spa birthday party was almost over.
We never did make it to musical manicures (something like musical chairs except you pass nail polish after the song stops) or gentle yoga.
But we did survive the longest spa birthday party ever. I mean, I did anyway.
That night I asked Annabelle how she thought the birthday party had gone. She said, “It was fun. I mean, I thought it went okay.” And guess what, I will take that rave review and run with it. I’m not sure I will ever agree to host a spa party again but I’m glad that I was able to host something of a spa party, even if my spa was a bit of a disaster.
Next year, I’m counting on my daughter, who will be turning eight, to say, “Mom, don’t you think I’m a bit old for birthday parties? Can’t I just take a friend to the movies with me?” I will hug her and gladly buy her movie tickets. And then I will feel sad because even though planning birthday parties and spending too much money on them stresses the hell out of me, I’m going to miss this when it’s over. And I do think that there is a reason that God created wine. So that parents can make it through all of these crazy parenting adventures. Mission accomplished. Spa party complete. Now pass me a glass of wine.
(the waiting station)
(the foot relaxation station and my private hell)
(sugar and sweets)
(a pile of relaxed 6 and 7 year olds)