It's birthday time again in our household. Of course, with six people living here, it's often birthday time.
My youngest son is 7 now. We offer our kids the choice of "have a party" or "get a nicer gift". Fortunately for us, the oldest two kids have realized that a DSi or iPod is well worth skipping a party! Little do they know that a party alone costs more than either of those, so they are saving us big time too.
Well, the "unfortunately" part of this story is that the younger two kids haven't caught on to money and how much things cost. To them, a DS is no different than a Lego kit. So, The Dude chose a party.
When my oldest two were younger, we hosted some pretty cool, rocking parties (if I do say so myself).
Yep, that's the Pittsburgh Pirate Parrot at our party in 2005. As it turns out, one of my kindergarten son's invitees' dads used to be the mascot in Pittsburgh. He owned a costume business, and volunteered to come to my son's Pirate/Treasure-Hunt party. This party was awesome!
Here is "China"... well our litte version of it during our daughter's "Around the World" birthday party in 2008. (And since this party, we've actually BEEN to China... doesn't look anything like this!) Each girl had a passport and went room to room doing activities/games/crafts. This was to celebrate Chinese New Year. The girls had to break all the balloons to find the puzzle pieces to put together. It was a favorite "country" that day.
Here is my four year old (now almost 12) son at his Bob the Builder party. That's our brownie-laden dump truck cake in the background. The kids all did construction activities and looked adorable.
Strawberry Shortcake party in 2004. Back when my life was consumed with just being mommy 24/7 (no outside work), I used to actually make cool cakes and stuff, too.
Another cake.... Rolie Polie Olie... remember him? Yes, I even gave the pretzel rod legs "joints" by drizzling chocolate on them. Yes, I had too much free time on my hands, apparently.
Ahhh.... those were the days BEFORE having four kids, BEFORE having a job, and BEFORE getting old. LOL I don't have the energy to pull off these huge parties anymore. So, lately, our parties have been at Pump-It-Up (bounce houses), Chuck-E-Cheese's, the skating rink, Libby Lu (closed now, but it used to do makeovers on little girls... too cute), Build-A-Bear, Laser Tag place, the farm, TaeKwonDo school, and more...
Those offsite places are great for keeping your house clean and requiring little-to-no preparation. I could call the store, reserve the party, pay the $$$ price and just show up. So easy! However, notice the $$$... meaning THREE digits. Yes, we often paid over $200 for a party offsite.
So, now that our house has a little more room, we thought we'd attempt to do a party here instead. I asked The Dude what he wanted. "Race Cars", was the response. Well, I've learned that the older the kids get, the less time/interest they have in too many prepared activities. So, we decided to do an almost-sleepover party. Meaning, they could come in pajamas, do a few organized activities, play with toys and Wii, and watch a movie with popcorn... and then go home at 8:30!!
We invited six boys, but only five could come. That worked out great... our table had six chairs and it was an even number... sah-weet for gathering goodie bags and such.
I found on etsy this site: Bee and Daisy. They create printable pdf files that have all the cool things for your party, and this is one of the businesses that sell it as a whole party. So, for $15 or so, I received the files to make the cupcake toppers, signs for walls, candy-bar wrappers, water-bottle wrappers, banners, pennants, cupcake-wrappers, and more. I didn't print out too many things, since it ate up a lot of colored ink in my printer... but everything was so coordinated.
Here is my
butler's pantry party-prep-station.
Water bottles look so much cuter when they have adorable race car wrappers on them. So do Hershey bars and cupcakes, too! I put the candy bars, sticker sheets, a Cars pencil, a Hotwheels car, and Cars pretzel bag into each bucket. My son wasn't happy that I bought "CARS" movie buckets... I guess seven-year-olds are too old for that?... but too bad. They were a buck each at Target, and matched the decor!
I made sure to wrap the vanilla cupcakes with white paper and the chocolate ones with red ... so I knew what I was picking up when the kids requested a certain flavor.
These are the pinata candy-filing bags... ready to go.
Here's the pre-party table, ready for the kids to arrive.
The race car pinata made for a cool centerpiece until it was called into duty. The trifle bowl held little bags of pretzels for anyone who was hungry early.
YAY! A birthday means that I get to hang the ultra-cool Birthday Balloon Wreath!
The circle banner on the fireplace.
After pizza and cupcakes and a little "Wii MarioKart" playing, I pulled out the pinata. Can you believe I put a nail in the little divider ceiling wall (or whatever you call it) to hold this 4 lb sucker? Yes... a nail in our fresh new wall that will just make a hole for nothing 99.9999% of the time. Mike says we'll just call it our "pinata nail". :)
I felt bad that this pinata was the pull-string kind. We briefly entertained the idea of cutting off the strings and handing the boys a bat. However, after I realized that I was alone at this party (hubby took kids to soccer practice) as the sole adult, I figured strings made for a much lower likelihood of an ER visit. Ha!
Unfortunately I had to lift most of the boys... I forgot how high a 9' ceiling really is! I was so afraid that the first kid would yank the whole thing down. Fortunately these pinata people are smart. The one that triggered the trapdoor was about half as long as the others. :) The kids couldn't even reach it... so I was the last puller... and shaker of candy.
They attacked the loot like vultures... unfortunately so did our Westie (caught her quickly before she grabbed any chocolate.)
And, it's almost gone.
After filling the bags, I quickly grabbed them back for taking home. (C'mon... a bag of sugar... I know better with seven-year-old boys... that goes HOME, not immediately in the mouth at a party.) Then I let the boys just go play with the Wii and The Dude's Hotwheels cars while I relaxed with some music and a magazine.
Yes, I relaxed. Can you believe it? My husband and two girls were at soccer. My oldest was consumed by the newest computer game. And I was the sole party-chaperone for six seven-year-old boys. And I relaxed. That alone should prove to you just how well-behaved these little boys were!! Sure, it was loud, but it was controlled and happy sounding.
Before I relaxed though, the pizza-table turned cupcake-table was next turned to the Lego-table. Ever see these at Five Below?
PERFECT solution to the "what else can I plan for a boys' indoor party?" With my girls, crafts are always a huge hit. (Ever buy a cardboard coloring playhouse? Wow... HUGE hit at my daughter's party in December!)
I put names on the plates and opened up the packages to look like this:
Every child had the same kit, so no arguing over who gets what. Before I called them back to the table it had transformed into this:
Here is The Dude with his kit.
And a happy The Dude with it finished. Please ignore the stretched out shirt... remember it was an almost-sleepover. Let's pretend these were pajamas.
After the kids were finished, I put the finished project with the instructions and plate into a ziploc bag. The labeled plate made it easy to identify whose was whose... and it kept the project protected during the drive home.
After Legos, the boys retired in the family room to watch a Hotwheels movie with popcorn and water. As they did that, I brought out the pinata bags, the water bottles that weren't used, and the goodie buckets. All ready to go.
The party was a huge success!