My son’s third birthday party got rained out, and it was the best time of his little life. It was wet. It was muddy. It was pure messy joy. Could anything be better for a 3-year-old boy?

That’s when I realized that planning the perfect birthday party was not to benefit my son, whether I thought so or not.

It was about three weeks before his birthday when I sat down to draw out the plans. “We will have a pool party,” I told my husband. “ I’ll buy him a new bathing suit and make cupcakes that look like guard rings.” I was busy picking out the perfect goody bags and making sure the guest list was a mile long. Because, what’s the perfect party if no one can witness it? I was even planning on having the party catered. (By the way, I’m in no way rich. We live in a modest townhome and are a one-income family.) I just had big birthday party dreams.

About a week before the party I noticed the days ahead were representing cooler temps. Not exactly ideal for a pool party. With that thought surfacing, I changed the party location. Oh, bye bye cute little lifeguard ring cupcakes.

I quickly snatched up a picnic shelter at the hippest playground in town. I’m not even joking, this is really the most popular playground in town. And I HAD to have my party there.

The day before the big birthday party, I noticed rain in the forecast. Not just a slight 20% chance, but a 90% chance of heavy rain. I was quite upset; I started calling the other moms to cancel. Now, we all have the super down to earth, nothing bothers me, mom friend, right? Well, once I called her, she laughed at me. “Why would you cancel? It’s just rain! People will show up.” Her positivity was infectious, I decided to stick with my plans on this oh so crummy day.

With little time to prepare, I threw together peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Betty Crocker cupcakes and a few bottles of water. We gathered our umbrella, rain boots and coats. Off we go.

I set-up the sandwiches and cupcakes in the shelter and turned on some feel-good music. We tossed out some sidewalk chalk, and that was it. There were no planned activities, no additional food and no decorations. It. Was. Magical.

I was done with setup in about 10 minutes; I don’t think an ounce of stress even washed over my body. Guests dressed head to toe in rain gear started trickling into the party. They were filled with complete admiration for the rainy day.

They were quick to stomp in the puddles, cover themselves in mud and slide down the slippery hills. They were sharing umbrellas and giggling every time they’d catch a raindrop on their tongue. When they needed a break, they would step under the shelter and decorate the landing with pictures of sunshine and hearts.

Lunch and cupcakes were quickly (and happily) consumed. Everyone was smiling. I was thrilled to host such a fun party, the kids were ecstatic to play in the rain and the other moms seemed quite relaxed with the easy birthday party atmosphere.

Are the days of over-planned, over-expensive and over-stimulated parties behind us? If not, they should be. My son had the time of his life and he had not one piñata, no color coded plates, no rules, no schedules, nothing, nothing, nothing. He was thrilled. Isn’t that all that matters? You know what else made for a lovely birthday? Having an unstressed mother cheering him on from the comfort of the shelter.

In fact, a month later, we celebrated my daughters first birthday. It was a simple get together at our neighborhood pool with just two of her little friends. I ordered a $5 pizza and the kids sat on a blanket to eat cupcakes. It was pure perfection.

My kids will never experience a party fit for Prince George. Speaking of which, I’m pretty sure Prince George could rock some rain boots and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. Anyone want to send this article to Kate? See if she can get on board with the simple birthday parties?

Jackie Boeheim

Jacqueline Leigh holds a BA in Journalism from Valdosta State University. She’s successfully published articles in multiple lifestyle magazines and online publications. She is passionate about entertaining both parents and children through her writing. Jacqueline's first picture book, Time For Bed With Ford And Red, is set to release in June 2017. She makes her home in North Carolina with her husband and two spirited children. You can follow her on Facebook at: