It wasn’t until just recently (by recent I mean just last week) that I discovered something about myself…  I like a good reason, any reason for that matter, to throw a good party or host an event. (I know I know… I don’t know WHY it’s taken me this LONG to understand this about myself!) Very few things in my life give me more pleasure and satisfaction.  I must admit, I still have a long way to go before (and need a lot more $$$) before any of my parties and events with friends and family are anything like Martha Stewarts or P. Diddy’s (they’re the queen and king of party planning) but I think I do a fairly good job with what resources and limited time (because keep in mind, I still have to play “mommy” to four restless boys) I have available.

I’ve been thinking over the last couple of days about my “party throwing nature”… when did it all start???  One of my earliest memories of a party I threw was when I was about 7 years old.  My cat Athena was just about to have her first birthday (February 2ND- yes, I knew my cat’s birthday, how pathetic was that?!) and I decided I wanted to throw a birthday party for her.  My mom took me to Petco, where I bought her some cat treats, a few new toys which I later wrapped in gift wrap for her and then I invited a couple of my close friends over to help celebrate the occasion. It was CAT-tastic! The party dragon inside me stayed pretty quite and dormant during my teen years; although I do recall planning a few events for the young women in my ward at church and I’ve been thinking about how during my senior year in high school I campaigned to be the School Spirit and Activities Commissioner only to be beat by my opponent and friend Thommy (Of course! He was probably the most popular kid in school… the popular kid ALWAYS wins!) … I lost my chance at being in charge of planning all of the school lunch time activities but was awarded the title of being the Commissioner at Large; I was responsible for planning all the big fundraisers for the school, organizing food drives and organizing a student exchange with students from Australia AND I was in charge of managing all of the other commissioners in the Student Body Government…  I enjoyed my calling and feel like I excelled in my duties BUT I can’t help but imagine that somehow, the student body at my high school lost out just a little because even though Thommy did a decent job making activities during lunch time and at pep rallies fun, I COULD HAVE blown it off the roof!  Oh well…  In college I was all about having good clean fun and partying it up.  At the end of one semester, my roommates and I had an excess of uncooked pasta in the pantry we couldn’t possibly consume just on our own, SO, we threw a pasta party and invited all of our friends over to eat pasta with us.  Another time, we had a ton of hot chocolate left over, so we threw a “B.Y.O.M”, otherwise known as a “bring your own mug” party and invited at least 20 or 30 friends over to drink hot chocolate with us.  Every Thursday night my roomies and I threw a Fajita Night dinner, complete with chips and salsa, chicken fajitas and virgin margaridas. The event was HOT and everyone who was anyone wanted to come; unfortunately only a select few were ever invited each week; if you wanted to attend your name was generally put on a waiting list (usually we just stuck to inviting hot guys and all their roommates).  We threw pizza parties and beach parties during the dead of winter in Rexburg, Idaho… we also held dance parties… practically every evening.  Oh yeah, and every day at 4:20 in the afternoon we had a “Manditory Bob” moment (meaning Bob Marley… we would play one of his songs).  I have to give credit where credit is due; that idea wasn’t my own, I actually carried on the tradition from one started on my home town radio station, 91X.  I think the original intent was to encourage people to go smoke a bong, but being the good clean Mormon girl I am I don’t engage in that sort of activity.  After 2 1/2 years at college I left for my mission to Portugal.  As a Sister Missionary we were encouraged to be humble, not worldly, and distance ourselves from activities we might normally engage in like dancing, going out with friends, hitting up the beach, etc. so we can have the Spirit with us and stay focused on doing the “Lord’s work”... I dove head first into doing missionary work, but still couldn’t completely shake the urge I had to throw a good party or an event every now and then.  In the M.T.C. (missionary training center), my companion Sister Livingstone and I decided to throw a surprise birthday party for our other mission companion Sister Smith.  Obviously party invites, balloons and cake aren’t readily available to buy in the missionary bookstore, so we improvised and made party invites out of note cards and handed them out to at least 50 or 60 other missionaries, then we found her a party hat, some presents and somehow, we found someone in the M.T.C. who had some sort of connection and managed to get us a microwavable brownie cake that we decorated and put a candle in so we could sing her “Happy Birthday”…  the party planning didn’t stop in the M.T.C…. after about a year in Portugal I started to get the “party planning itch” again and persuaded my mission companion Sister Livingstone to help me organize a ward activity/party for our investigators, new members and old members in Viseu.  I remember carefully crafting the signs advertising the event, (it had a summer/beachy theme so I used some of the Surfer magazines I had tucked away in my suit case) and we made a GIANT Twister board.  We went all out on the event and the members and non members really had a great time.  Since being married, I keep busy and happy planning birthday parties for my boys and hosting dinners or play dates for our friends and family.  My husband Spencer isn’t really the “party planning”,“celebrating” type person, but he’s had no choice being married to me. He has brought me back down to earth though on occasion when I start to go a little overboard on my event planning. I LOVE having any good reason to celebrate!  I like the satisfaction I get in seeing others happy around me. Spencers accused me a couple of times of throwing parties and events just to show off, but showing off has NEVER been my intent… I just like the change and excitement a party can bring into an otherwise humdrum day AND I enjoy good company, making others happy.  Especially kids.

It’s for this very reason that this past Friday, the 23RD, I invited a bunch of Spencer‘s friends over with their families for a pool party/movie night outside.  Yes, I invited HIS friends, who have also become my friends as well, because I know he LOVES his friends but would never think to on his own do something like a pool party/movie night with them.  I’m a good wife. (wink, wink.)  It was a holiday weekend (the following day, the 24TH, was Pioneer Day) so I already knew that a lot of our friends would have time off of work and be looking for something to do… why not celebrate the night before and get everyone together for a fun time!

We’ve done movie nights before outside with friends and family, but never before at our new house.  I wanted to have everyone sit on the grass out front to watch the movie but that meant we’d have to put the movie screen across our front porch.  In the past, we always used two white bed sheets pinned together as a movie screen, but our porch is pretty big and if we were to use white bed sheets, it would probably take at least 4 of them to cover the porch.  It was evident that in this case, using bed sheets wouldn’t really work too well.  Spencer considered buying an inflatable movie screen, but they cost quite a bit (especially large ones) and we couldn’t justify buying one when we need to spend our money on wiser, more practical things, like a new sink, a new door handle for the front door to our house… get the picture?… anyhow, up until the day of the event we weren’t sure WHAT we were going to use as a movie screen… we had some serious brainstorming to do.  Spencer woke up Friday morning with a brilliant idea; he grabbed the car keys and took off to The Home Depot.  He didn’t return for an hour.  When he did get back, he brought with him a HUGE beige canvas tarp, some screws, a paint roller and a can of white paint.  He laid out the tarp on the garage floor, popped open the can of paint and quickly started rolling the white paint onto the tarp…

He was painting us a movie screen we could project our movie onto. Brilliant!

While he was busy getting the movie screen painted and set up, I was busy myself getting all the snacks ready for the evening.  We had popcorn for our guests, along with Twizzlers, sodas and stuff to make ice cream sundaes/banana splits.  As one of our guests later put it that evening, “It’s so typical Stephanie fashion to go all out on the treats”… I chuckled when I heard her tell her husband so, but then considered it true.  I do kinda like to go all out on treats.  I mean who wants to go to a party where they say they’re serving banana splits but forgot everything but the vanilla ice cream?!

Here’s a look at the movie screen in front of our house…
It was pretty big!
Here’s what it looked like that evening.

The picture above sort of gives you an idea of just how big the screen really was, especially with the two kids standing in front of it.  There were kids standing in front of the screen all night, but none of them ever made it so we couldn’t see the movie because the screen was ginormous!
We had a ton of fun with our friends and their families.  First we swam for a little bit, then everyone came back to our place to make their sundaes and splits, grab some treats and enjoy the movie outside on the grass. The night was perfect.  The temp was just right and there weren’t any bugs out to bother us, plus we live in a pretty quiet neighborhood so there weren’t any other noisy distractions around. Oh yeah, in case you were wondering, we watched Hotel For Dogs.  Originally we meant to watch Hook, but Spencer couldn’t get it to play (the boys probably scratched it up- we learned it’s a good idea to test movies before a movie night at our house just to be sure they work) so we settled with Hotel For Dogs. The kids and adults all seemed to enjoy it.  Pay no attention to the following picture… I took it during the opening credits when no one knew I was taking it…

The 2 girls weren’t really asleep, not yet at least, but most of the dads WERE texting on their phones or checking sport updates and all the little kids were in fact playing musical chairs.  I found at least 20 opened sodas on the grass that evening, left unsipped by the little kids and a couple of them were up walking around so much during the movie, some of them stepped into bowls of ice cream and tracked it around the grass and sidewalk.  Thank goodness the mess was outside and NOT inside and thank heavens for sprinklers that cleaned up most of the sticky mess.  I had to chuckle because 3 of the dads that evening were playing “mommy” to their kids because their wives couldn’t make it due to work.  They really did an awesome job keeping their kids happy and out of harms way.  Of the 3, I’d have to hand the award to Jeremy.  He was watching after 5 kids all on his own!

We really had such a fun night with our friends… I already can’t wait to invite them all over for another fun movie night outside.  I’d have one every weekend if only I could convince my husband to let me…