I like a party. I am not sure if I like too party but I like parties. Or the idea of them actually, or maybe I just like planning them. If I am completely honest, I like to design, scheme and prep for parties and that’s about it. But now I am old and don’t have the luxury of throwing parties for myself I live vicariously through my kid.
Last month said kid turned 4 and I don’t know if you know this but it’s kind of a big deal around here (or so we were told). I started planning and scheming in June by hoarding props (toilet rolls) and designing graphics. We settled on the theme of ‘mini adventurers’ based on the kiddo’s unwavering fascination with the natural world, dinosaurs and all that outdoor junk.
Little A’s birthday fell smack bang in the middle of school holidays and it’s hard to gently remind other busy parents of a party if you don’t see them for a week before. So I decided to employ a marketing technique (don’t hate on me I am sorry I am a design nerd and can’t turn it off) and create a memorable invite: Mini Adventurer passbook and binoculars in a little paper bag. Using the months worth of toilet rolls, Little A and I painted and glued them together to create crafty binoculars for each child – who were encouraged to bring them to the party to help explore!
I designed the party logo and supporting elements based on old school Scout badges and continued that idea through the party where kids ‘earned’ a badge after completing every game.
There is always the possibility that someone or something will rain on your parade. Nervous that I would make some sort of rookie school-mum party faux pas I consulted seasoned professionals, i.e. other school mums, to ensure that noses stayed firming in joint. With the stress of invitations done I focused on crafting large amounts of decorations never really thinking the thing that would ruin my parade was actually going to be rain. But there you have it, the week before the party it rained non-stop and I wanted to cry. Getting a metaphorical rigorous shoulder shake from SAH to pull myself together and get on with it – our chosen park had a band stand to give us cover (which my amazing mum turned up at 7.30am to morning of to secure) I did just that. I got on with it.
And although it did not rain once during the party, in fact it was glorious blue skies, it was winding as a – erm, a windy thing so I decided to forego putting up 90% of the decorations, which was a shame but I now have a large supply of decorations for next year.
Effort was also exerted in the cake-making area. Baking the 5-layered cake over the space of a week, I watched a lot of you tube videos on crumb coating and smoothing butter cream frosting to get the look just right. Although I wasn’t entirely happy with the cake batter colour or the cream cheese frosting colour (neither was fluorescent enough for me) the over all affect was exactly what I had wanted. A mixture of adventure animals and tasty snacks adorned the towering beast of a cake. Although in my haste to clean the kitchen the night before the party I accidently threw out the fancy sparkly number 4 candle and I had to quickly retrieve four mis-matched candles from the junk draw in our kitchen.
Party food was kept very simple with no lollies or soft drink, but loads of fruit, sandwiches, pretzels and popcorn – plus cold cuts and cheese for the adults.
We decided on three party games and encouraged the kids to play in the playground together when they weren’t participating in games or eating. We had an Expedition to find creatures (treasure hunt), a Dinosaur egg transport (egg and spoon race, well rubber ball and spoon), and a Mini adventure (obstacle course). We also had a table of craft for the kids to make animal puppets and masks.
Party bags contained a little custom pack of Crayola crayons and were big enough so craft projects and found animals/insect toys could be stashed inside as well.
And the outcome? A complete and utter success. The birthday boy had the best day ever running around with his buddies – a close-knit group of kids at his Montessori school – playing games, earning badges and eating cake. In fact I’ve been asked by the kiddo about his next birthday party pretty much every week since!
I enjoyed the day too, remarkably as I was running around madly setting up, repairing binoculars, corralling kids to and from one game to the next… I even got to chat to other parents and some of the kids and it made my heart sing at how lucky we are to have such a gorgeous little community through our school.