1. News
  2. /
  3. Hillsborough

Tales from the Crib: Big birthday parties equal big stress

I was that mom who sent out hard copy invitations six weeks in advance and followed up with RSVP cards. Man, I must have been annoying.
Lynn Cristina is a Wesley Chapel momma with two girls and works full time as a marketing manager. [Courtesy of Lynn Cristina]
Published Sep. 11

I love planning birthday parties, and I will be the first one to admit I lack self-control. I grew up planning my own birthday parties and graduation parties. Later in life, I became a professional event planner. It is part of who I am and difficult to just shut down.

Each year I promise my husband I will tone it down, invite fewer people and stay on budget. But I fail.

My friends like to tell me I am a bit over the top, but not in a Kardashian kind of way — just when it comes to the fine details. I like themes, which leads to custom invitations, cake toppers, matching candles, lots of decor, party favors and entertainment. Next thing you know, the logistical details have spiraled out of control.

Until recently, I would plan these parties a few months out. I was that super organized mom who sent out hard copy invitations six weeks in advance and followed up with RSVP cards.

Yes. I. Did.

Man, I must have been annoying. My husband would gently remind me this isn’t a black-tie gala for 1200 adults — it is a preschool pool party. Settle down, sister.

One year I had custom invites made for Ella’s 4th birthday. There were lanyards with her picture that served as the “VIP ticket” to the party. I sent them out weeks ahead of time and to my surprise all her friends wore their “Ella necklace” to class every day which was a real distraction. Her teacher loved me.

That same party turned into an event for 75 people. I am of the more the merrier mindset; sure, bring your husband and the other kids, too. Birthday parties in many ways have become the new parents night out. It is a chance for us socialize, meet new people and squeeze in some sangria with a sprinkle of adult conversation.

The party resembled a scene from the movie Animal House and the patio and playroom were destroyed. At the time, I didn’t care because I made it into the bouncy house with the other moms to have a little fun of my own. However, the aftermath left me asking the question: why am I like this?

Well, I am adopted, and I was an only child for twelve years. For most of my formative years it was just me, my mom and my dad. To say I was spoiled would be an understatement, and my birthday was always a big deal. As an only child, I was lonely even though I had lots of friends. I was always planning parties, playdates and get togethers to be surrounded by people. I didn’t have a full house, so I created one.

My husband on the other hand has a large, loud and charismatic Italian family. They never rented out venues for birthday parties because his family was the party. His celebrations consisted of several aunts, uncles and cousins enjoying a signature strawberry cake and partying in the living room until the break of dawn. It wasn’t fancy, but it was fun and full of love.

My passion for events might be hereditary. When Ella was two, I remember asking, “Baby, what is your favorite holiday?“ Her response: “My birthday.” The last few years she has gotten into the details and will quiz me on the music, the cake and the party favors. Rest assured little one, Mommy’s got this. I still love to throw a good party but to be honest I’m slowing down. I’m tired and big parties equal big stress.

Now I have two little girls and a lot more on my plate, so I haven’t been bringing my A-game.

In a few days Adriana turns 4, and this will be my first small party. She begged me for a mermaid-themed pool party, but we are scaling it way back. This time we will skip the bounce house and princesses. On Adriana’s special day, we will focus on her and celebrate another year of survival in the parenting jungle.

Lynn Cristina is a mother of two who works full time as a marketing manager. Contact her at or on Instagram @lynncristinablogs.


  1. A company called Flock Safety is selling automatic license plate readers to neighborhood associations to cut down on crime, and Tampa neighborhood Paddock Oaks is one of their customers. Pictured is a Flock camera on Paddock Oaks Dr. | [Luis Santana | Times] LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Atlanta-based Flock Safety has provided 14 area communities with high-speed, high-definition cameras for surveillance.
  2. The number of single-family homes sold in the Tampa Bay area during August rose 2.8 percent when compared with the same month last year, according to a monthly report from Florida Realtors. (Times file photo)
    The midpoint price in the bay area rose to $250,000, which is still lower than the state and national median prices.
  3. The Aldi store located on 1551 34th St N, St. Petersburg, Florida in 2018, features its updated layout. JONES, OCTAVIO   |  Tampa Bay Times
    The store will re-open after renovations on Thursday, Sept. 26
  4. The Tampa City Council was told Thursday that it had little power to prevent a medical marijuana cultivation,  processing and dispensary approved for East Tampa. ANDREW SELSKY  |  AP
    Trulieve plans to open a facility near a recovery center. State preemption prevents the city from taking action.
  5. Stay with for the latest news and updates. Times
    The vehicle overturned a number of times and came to rest in trees beside the highway, troopers said.
  6. Patrick Thorpe, who owns part of Marti/Colon Cemetery in West Tampa, wants to start a nonprofit group to cover the costs of burial grounds that are falling into disrepair. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    Architect Patrick Thorpe is working to keep old Tampa cemeteries from falling further into disrepair.
  7. A Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy responding to a domestic violence call shot an unarmed 17-year-old along Skipper Road in north Tampa on March 26. The deputy thought the teen was pulling a gun. The teen was paralyzed and the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office has ruled that the deputy will not face charges. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    A Hillsborough deputy was cleared because he thought the boy, 17, had a gun. Records show how it happened.
  8. From left: Simone Till, Nicholas Sherwin, Molly Dashney and Ellois Hannah. (Photo courtesy Demmeri Gallon). Photo courtesy Demmeri Gallon
    The program is open to high school juniors and seniors.
  9. Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming is coming to Carrollwood this fall. [Courtesy of Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming]
    The Orlando-based franchise is a specialty retailer of pet food and supplies.
  10. Apex Performance is located at  4205 W Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. (Photo courtesy of Sam Poole). Photo courtesy of Sam Poole.
    Workouts consist of a warm-up, weight lifting and cardio finisher.