See that little girl right there with the feathered bangs, multicolored windbreaker, and red cowboy boots? That’s me on my 4th birthday, living my best garage birthday life. I like to say my mom was a Pinterest mom before there was Pinterest. She has always been so creative with snacks and activities, and she brings that energy into her role as a grandmother now. But for birthday parties, my mom mostly kept it simple! Even though they were simple, nobody knew how to throw a kid party rager like my mom. I really don’t think she was that much different than other 90s moms though! I don’t remember going to any birthday party as a kid that I thought was way cooler than my parties. 90s moms had it going on. From the garage, to sleepovers, to the skating rink, and the McDonald’s Play Place, 90s moms were making birthday dreams happen. Here are some simple steps to planning a birthday party like it’s 1999.
Step 1: Let your child choose the theme.
Listen, I know you want to pick something like citrus or foliage for **aesthetics** but 90s moms did not care about aesthetics. Ask your kid what they want their theme to be! Better yet, take them to the Walmart party aisle and let them pick from the five available options. Do. Not. Overthink. This.
If you want to be extra 90s, consider not even having a theme. Maybe your theme is just “McDonald’s Play Place Chic,” and that’s it. There is nothing more aesthetic than red and yellow together. Besides, isn’t “birthday” already a theme? Show up and bring cake. (See Step 3.) Easy.
Step 2: Do not get on Pinterest.
I’m not kidding. 90s moms didn’t have Pinterest, and they probably didn’t even want Pinterest. There was no social media putting pressure on moms to create an “Instagrammable” experience. They just put on their high-waisted jeans, white Keds, and color-blocked sweatshirts and made it happen with the supplies they had on hand or could find at a local store. You can’t have a “Pinterest fail” if you don’t have Pinterest.
Step 3: Cake! Cake! Cake!
This part is so simple. Grab a boxed cake mix at the store and a can of frosting (bonus points for Funfetti). Bake the cake according to directions, allow it to cool completely, then spread the frosting with a butter knife. Add your candles and you’re good to go! If you want to get really fancy, you could order a custom cake from the grocery store or a cookie cake from the mall. The only reason to make this step more complicated is if your child has food allergies. Then you have an excuse to let someone else make the cake for you. But keep it simple! Growing up, we always served cake with Blue Bell’s “The Great Divide” because that’s how it’s done in Texas.
Step 4: Food and Snacks
One word: pizza. Just pizza. Everyone loves pizza! Kids like pizza. Parents like pizza. Get a few cheese and a few pepperoni and maybe a veggie option, and call it good. Pro tip: Costco pizza is delicious. While you’re there, grab some juice boxes and a giant box of assorted chips and you have a birthday feast on your hands!
Step 5: Invite the guests!
It is very, very important to make paper invitations for a 90s birthday party. 90s moms didn’t have Evite! They couldn’t go on Etsy and order custom invitations and send out the files in an email or group text message! Buy a package of pre-made invitations and write in all the pertinent details, then pass them out to friends and family.
Ultimately, I don’t think there’s anything wrong at all with planning a perfectly coordinated, Instagram-worthy party. I really don’t; especially if that brings you joy and is something that comes naturally to you! But I promise the kids don’t care. They’re interested in cake and gifts and running around with their friends. Maybe we’d all have a bit more fun if we took a little of the pressure of comparison off of ourselves and just pretended we were 90s moms for a bit. You might even have the jeans for it already!