Like any mom, I’ve been to my fair share (and maybe even my unfair share) of kids’ birthday parties. One of my favorite things about party day is
finding the adult beverages seeing the creative ways people bring themes and activities to life. I have some outrageously talented party-planning friends like the girls at Tin Parade (I mean how do they think of things like this centerpiece??) and Santa Barbara Gift Baskets (no surprise the mother of a sweet little girl and not two WWFer wannabes designed this gorgeous ice cream party). But what are those of us with jumpy-house-loving kids (and big tight-knit neighborhoods) to do? (Besides use their party theme packages, of course.)
Well, my friend hit the nail on the head. I walked into her son’s backyard party and within seconds saw detail after detail of practical party planning genius. It was a race car theme, but these ideas could work for just about anything.
As rowdy as my boys can get, they’re slow to warm up in new situations. Right when we walked into the backyard, there was a table set up with little wooden cars, markers and stickers (all from Michael’s). This was the perfect ice breaker for the quiet ones who weren’t ready to bounce themselves silly.
Give ‘Em A Nibble
Instead of putting out snack-sized bags of sugar-filled treats, Jen took the time to fill up little cups with Goldfish and blueberries. Just the right amount to eat before the kids got distracted and ran off (without leaving half a bag of wasted food behind). And fruit skewers and Trader Joe’s pigs in a blanket were a perfect way to serve substantial food without having to hassle with plates and silverware. And no need for juice boxes or water bottles. Just a couple coolers: one with lemonade, one with water.
An Adult Escape
The “real” food—and, more importantly, drinks—were set off to the side, away from kiddie traffic and curiously grubby fingers. This is where you could find the dads who braved the festivities.
Ok, the homemade cake was waaay beyond me (perhaps I’ll do a post someday about the first cake I made my husband when we were married…that would help explain my baking phobia). But adorable. Little checkered flags, hurricane vases filled with Matchbox cars, a cute t-shirt for the birthday boy and upcycled car-shaped crayons as party favors were just a few of the little touches that made a big difference.
I just kept saying to myself, that seems so obvious (note, I didn’t say simple), why didn’t I think of that? Next time around, I will.
I made a homemade birthday cake for the first time this year when my son turned 5. I have a son turning 7 in August so I suppose I gotta keep things fair and bake him a cake too. But no fancy decorating. Sprinkles are about all I can handle.
If you can manage quiche (even if it is the kind you buy in the freezer section, though I assume it’s not), you’re worlds beyond me in the kitchen. I’m seriously a danger to myself and others. Seriously…just ask the spatula turned machete! Poor, poor pirate cookies…
I think we’re all so pleased when we get new ideas for entertaining for big people or small. Anytime I hear that it’s store bought–I know I can do it and get really excited. Don’t get me wrong, homemade is wonderful and personal. It’s just that it’s nice to know quick tips that can make a gathering special and enjoyable. I’m finally realizing it’s really about being with special people and having them enjoy the time with you! Your friend really planned well, with her two sets of guests in mind. What a fun party!
Cambrien Snyder says
I loved reading these ideas. I too have a phobia of baking since making my son’s 1st birthday cake last year. I have nightmares of squeezing “stars” out of frosting from those little silver decorating cones. Obviously my lingo indicates my lack of baking knowledge. I will be buying a cake this year.