David’s surprise Incredible Hulk birthday party

Yesterday we threw a surprise birthday party for David, and I’m telling you right now that it was the greatest scheme I’ve ever been a part of. This was such a fun party to plan, and if you think your kid would like being surprised, I HIGHLY recommend it.

I’ve thrown a lot of birthday parties through the years, but I was by-far, for sure, without a doubt more excited for this than any of the others. The week before the party I couldn’t sleep because I kept running through the details and imagining the surprise.

The details actually weren’t that hard. I was able to do a lot of the party prep without David noticing. This wouldn’t be true for all kids, but David isn’t the type to give me the third-degree about details. If I tried to do this for Mary Virginia, she would not be fooled, “Hey, Mom?” she’d say. “I noticed you’re cleaning the house with increased anxiety. I wrote up a report cataloguing some of your behaviors this past week and I can only conclude that you’re planning a surprise party for me in the next four hours or so.”

The whole thing was actually David’s idea. Sometime in July I asked him how he wanted to celebrate his birthday. I figured he’d say something like “a shark party” or ask to go somewhere special with friends, but instead asked for a surprise party.

I laughed, and told him that surprise parties don’t work that way. You can’t request to be surprised, because then it won’t be a surprise at all.

He was disappointed, but he understood, and a moment later I started planning his surprise birthday party.

We leave for vacation a few days after his birthday, so I told him that we’d celebrate with family and then after vacation we’d celebrate with some friends, and since he was expecting a much-later celebration, I was able to ask him questions like who he wanted to invite, what sort of cake he wanted.

He asked for Incredible Hulk cupcakes, which I tried to talk him out of because the Incredible Hulk is super-hard to create in cake form for someone who is sleep-deprived and also skill-deprived. My cupcakes initially looked like dead-ringers for Oscar the Grouch, and even after a lot of work look like monsters, zombies, Frankenstein, oh yeah and sort of like the Incredible Hulk now that you mention it!

David also mentioned wanting a piñata, and so I made my first ever piñata. Maybe you’ve made a piñata before and so you already know that they take days of application, drying, decorating. The entire time I was terrified that it wouldn’t turn out. Tom was THISCLOSE to recording himself on a loop saying, “… This is going to be smashed by 7-year olds … You can always just tape over any holes … worst case scenario we can just buy a piñata … David’s going to love it no matter what … You’re the greatest mom ever … ”

The piñata looks super scary and is far from perfect, but it did its job. It broke after a few kids got some swings in, and most-importantly, David loved it.

I think I’ll be more confident when I make another piñata (that groan you just heard? That was Tom, because, “What do you mean ANOTHER piñata!?”) I’ll be more confident.

After David’s party, we now have a new Venus Flytrap, a pet Beta fish, and a freshly-minted seven-year old.

It’s going to be a great year.


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  1. Becky August 17, 2018

    Yay!! So glad it turned out well.. for the record I knew you had in the bag! You are a great mama!


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