Charlize Theron’s son Jackson had his second first birthday party over the weekend. We rag on celebrities a lot for spoiling their kids, but I don’t think two first birthdays is that unusual because anyone who has planned one knows that organizing a date is a nightmare because of activities, sports, other birthday parties etc. If you have over 5 people, there are going to be date conflicts.

Jackson’s first party was at The Coop, and his second one at home. Both were small and not too crazy (no Shetland ponies or fireworks, it seems). Off-site parties are the dream because there’s no clean-up or prep, and the kids are entertained but… GERMS. I’m no germ freak but imagine what is living on those balls and mats and toys? As I type this, my son is licking a window; they are basically petri dishes of illness.

Backyard parties have their advantages too (like no public bathrooms). And more privacy for famous friends… like little Louis Bullock! Louis is so freaking cute and popular; in 18 years, he’s totally going to be the social coordinator of all the Hollywood offspring – he’ll be down with the Jolie-Pitts, the Beckhams, the Afflecks.

Also making an appearance was Chelsea Handler, who was probably (understandably) like sh-------t I’m hungover and don’t want to spend Sunday having a kid show me how high he can jump. But the child-free friends are always the ones who come through, right? They are there to help you put the cupcake toppers on and will huddle in the kitchen and listen to you complain about your third cousin showing up totally late.

Kids birthdays are out of control, obviously only for the parents’ benefit because no 1-year-old knows what is going on. I had a huge first birthday party for my son – 80 adults (we both have big families) and rented a space and had it catered, did gift bags with books and matching bookmarkers (that I ordered from the UK), customized stationery, a custom t-shirt, and I had decorations made – not printed, actually handmade by someone. They got stuck at the border and I swear I bitched about this to my understanding (but secretly annoyed) friends for weeks.  I trolled craft blogs looking for ideas (I don’t even own a pair of proper scissors). I spent way too much time on Etsy and at Kinko’s. Yes 99% of kids birthday parties look the same, but when they are done well, they basically look better than any party I could ever hope to be invited to.

But I’ve come to realize we can spend $50 or $500 and every birthday party for kids under the age of 8 follows a pattern: Food, a bouncy castle or some kind of obstacle course where there will definitely be a minor injury (elbow to the nose or scraped knee), tears and a too-sweet cake that’s been left out too long to be safely consumed but everyone eats it anyways. Meltdowns. Maybe a biter to keep things interesting.
At Charlize’s, they served cake after a few hours and everyone went home. I wonder if she had any stragglers? Certainly not Sandra and Louis, who stayed for the perfect amount of time: 2 hours. In kids’ birthday land, serving the cake is the equivalent of lights on at the bar: a not-so-subtle hint that means, “thanks for coming out, but it’s time to go.”