The Birth of the Birthday Party Sweatshirt

Here's the front of the Birthday Sweatshirt

A strange tradition started in our family on M1’s third birthday. Well technically, I guess it started on his fourth birthday when I realized we were throwing a volcano/dinosaur-themed birthday party and I didn’t have anything volcano/dinosaur-themed to wear. (If you’re new to the Calandros Clan -here’s something to note: It’s all about the theme for a party around here!)

Anyway, it was the day before the party. The To-Do List was a mile long, there was no time to go shopping for a new outfit, and I had no money for anything new anyway.

We made sweatshirts for M1’s Sesame Street-themed third birthday party the year before with iron-on decals. Nothing fancy, just plain white sweatshirts with a picture of Oscar the Grouch on the front, the words “Max’s Party”, and The Count on the sleeve.

Of course we didn’t throw the sweatshirts away! (Dear Hoarders….) Then came M1’s 4th birthday and we ironed on a dinosaur patch (see earlier in the post where I reference panic and a desire for something themed to wear). 

The simple act of ironing that decal on the swearshirt we’d worn the year before birthed the Birthday Party Sweatshirt. (This is how legends are born around here. Or how traditions are started: typically out of desperation and/or lack of funds.) 

Next came M2’s first birthday. We debated about using new sweatshirts and having a set for each kid. Naaaah. Too organized. Not wacky enough. We decided to put every theme for every birthday for every M child on these sweatshirts. And we wear them every year for every birthday party. (We are quite the spectacle. Dear What Not To Wear….)

You can see by the photos, the sweatshirts are quite, ummm, colorful by now. And if you look really closely, you’ll see they look a little “worn”.

The back of the sweatshirt

Almost every party is represented: Sesame Street, Go Wild! (jungle), Commotion in the Ocean, Disneyland 2x (one of the patches was acquired thanks to a good friend who traveled to the big D and got them for us. We were such spazzes while we were at the Big D oursleves, we forgot to look for patches!), Star Wars 2x, LEGOs, Pirates, Up!, Hot Wheels, Thomas, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, video games, aliens, volcano/dinosaur, Willy Wonka, Have a Ball! (balls), Cinco de Miles (fiesta), Fantastic 4 (Super Hero), firefighter, and football. Take a look. You can see every one of these parties.

We’re missing one more Disneyland patch and something representing Jelly Bellies (we took M1 there for a tour last year for his birthday). Other than that, these sweatshirts catalog the celebrations of our three sons. 

It’s almost time to pull the sweatshirts out for M1’s birthday, but we have a problem: this is the first year we’re stumped for a theme or activity or patch or something for the sweatshirt. M1 turns thirteen. (Dum dum dummmmmmm….cue the doom music.) We aren’t sure what we’re doing for his birthday yet. Nothing came to our minds. It’s Spring Break, his friends are scattered everywhere and he’s a teenager. A party isn’t the first thing he thinks about or wants for his birthday. Maybe I’ll just paint a big, black thirteen on the sweatshirt.

*Excuse me while I get a tissue. I need to blow my nose. Yes, I’m crying. Don’t mock me.*

This makes me sad. I knew the day would come when these sweatshirts would be retired. It seems this might be the first year it gets retired for M1. We still have many more parties for M2 and M3 (do I still have the energy for this?!?!), but the day will come for them, eventually, too. The sweatshirts will get stuffed in the closet and won’t come out until M1 gradutes from high school. (Oh, you KNOW the LOML and I will do this!! We’ve already warned the boys. And the wedding rehearsal!! Just wait until the Rehearsal Dinner! Future Calandro Brides -consider yourselves warned.)

Anyway, this year brings us closer to the end of something started almost decade ago. I know, all good things must come to an end. I just wish they didn’t come to an end so soon. (Okay -you got me -some days I wish some of these Parenting things would come to an end immediately, but you know what I’m talking about here. Humor me. Thank you.)

Onward! (And happy birthday to my favorite 13-year-old on the planet. I consider you one of the greatest blessings of my life. {Mwah!} -Yep -I’m still going to kiss you -even though you’re thirteen!)

Comments (10)

  1. molly campbell

    This is great! xoxo

    1. Eileen (Post author)

      High praise from you, Molly! Thank you! Xo back at’cha.

  2. Slack


    Maybe it’s time you put a Playboy bunny on the shirt for M1? Or a pic of some girl in school he has a crush on?

    I’m just not sure if this would be a ‘good’ path to head down for future years? If you know what I mean?



    1. Eileen (Post author)

      Point taken, Andy! The good news is, M1 is still cool with how dorky his parents can be. I know we’ll get to “You are so WEIRD!!” soon enough. I’m still happy to be here while we can. Thanks for always chiming in about the Ms!

  3. BusyDad

    First, HAPPY (soon to be) BIRTHDAY, M1. Second, that is the COOLEST idea ever. It’s like a wearable blog.

    1. Eileen (Post author)

      Thanks so much! How did we get to 13 so quickly!?! How about we combine the other coolest thing ever ~Lunch Box Daily~ and take over the world!? :) Kudos From you means so much, BusyDad. Thank you!

  4. maggie b.

    Long live the awesome sweatshirts. Even if they no longer get annual patches for M1 and will someday retire for the younger boys as well, you know that there IS a Santa Claus and that the bell still rings for those who believe. Same for the party sweats. The birthday bells will forever ring for your boys thanks to the seeds you’ve planted and parties you’ve thrown.

    Cannot WAIT for the rehearsal dinner getups in a couple more decades!

    1. Eileen (Post author)

      Anyone who can bring a tie-in of Santa Claus and the Birthdatpy Party sweatshirts is SPEAKING MY LANGUAGE! Thanks for getting it and I appreciate your ability to project forward to the rehearsal dinners ~those will be a lot of fun!

  5. Christine aka @chancesmommy

    What a cool idea! I may have to borrow this from you! :)

    1. Eileen (Post author)

      Please do! You make SO MANY people smile every day -I’d be honored!


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