And so, having failed to lie to my son about his birthday for my convenience, we threw a birthday party. A Lorax birthday party. A birthday party that found me looking into the gaping maw of the beast called Toddler-Birthday-Party-In-The-Age-Of-Pinterest.
First, let me be clear: I did NOT want to throw a party. However, as the youngest in his class, my son had already attended a number of his classmates' parties and let us know in no uncertain terms that he saw a party as an important part of his birthday celebration. Drat. I set about trying to conceive a party that was as festive as possible while being as minimal as possible. I was . . . semi-successful in those goals . . .
When I was growing up, I was only allowed to have a birthday party every other year. On the in-between years, my parents took me, and sometimes a friend, to the theater in NYC. It was a good system. As I approached throwing my child's first real birthday party (the all-adults first birthday party not really counting in my book), I tried to think of a similar sort of guiding principal and decided that perhaps the first several parties would all be tied to a favorite book. So wholesome!
And so we arrived at The Lorax birthday party.
So, getting down to brass tacks, these were the elements of the party:
- A cake
Here we go.
Decorations. Because the party had a Lorax theme, for decorations we scanned some key images from the book and then used the rasterbator to blow them up and print them out. Then we used loops of blue painters tape on the back to stick them on the walls without damaging our home.
The rasterbator is great and the pictures on the walls definitely seemed to be fun for the kids, but the whole process: scanning, rasterbating, printing, assembling and then cutting out was EPIC. We spent - by far - the most time on this aspect of the party. If I wanted to do this again, I'd either a) choose just one or two images and make them bigger so they could be more of a focal point OR b) start putting these together a month before instead of the week before.
The Cake. This is where I wobbled. Where everything almost came crashing down. I think it is purely luck that the cake came out as well as it did, which is to say, a generous B-. It was delicious but maybe the night before the party is not the best time to establish if your theoretial plan for creating truffula trees from mini cupcakes, straws and icing is in any way a functional plan. It was, but barely.
I made a base cake which was just a white cake with cream cheese icing that I dyed green so it would look like grass. Then I made a batch of these chocolate cupcakes, but I made them mini. Then I made a bunch of swiss meringue buttercream because my Martha Stewart cupcake book indicated that this was the best frosting for the job. Then I just hoped for the best.
I stored the truffula trees in the refrigerator 'till right before the party when i stuck them in the cake along with some chocolate Teddy Grahams which were, of course, frisking barbaloots.
As you can see: neither something to be especially proud of, nor a subject of personal shame. THIS, friends, is how you know I'm NOT one of those crazy Pinterest moms. (Those moms would never stand for this . . .). Bonus: the kids really enjoyed eating the truffula trees (kinda like cake pops).
Activites/Entertainment. We had three elements that lent themselves to "open play" and two parent-led elements.
For "open play" we made a Whisper-ma-phone out of some tubing and funnels from the hardware store. It worked remarkably well - you really could just whisper in one end and hear at the other. Kiddos were curious about it but had trouble coordinating one person talking and the other listening and switching. My son really enjoyed playing with it in the days before the party and I suspect it will be one of those toys that we pull out every so often and really enjoy.
Because I stumbled onto the idea on some other mom's blog (go ahead and google "lorax party mom blog." I dare you.) and suddenly felt like what we had planned wasn't "enough," we also made a magnetic fishing game where you fish the poor Humming Fish out of the polluted water and into fresh water. Fishing poles were a dowel with a string and some magnets on the end; fish were Humming Fish I printed onto orange card stock, cut out, and furnished with a paperclip to attract the magnet. My husband fashioned dirty and clean water out of cardboard and blue paper (and I can't believe I don't have a picture of this!) This one was slow to catch on, but I think most of the kids spent some time being pretty fascinated by it.
I also just printed out some coloring sheets from the internet (google something like "lorax printable coloring sheet") which was so easy and such a good idea.
Once everyone had arrived and had played for a while, we all gathered together and read The Lorax and then we made seed necklaces which are cool to make and not too difficult for kids this age, especially with a bunch of parents around to help.
Food/Snacks. This was a total afterthought. As I was anxiously mulling over the merits of brunchy food vs. lunchy food, my husband said "we could just do pizza like everyone else." Eureka! I married a genius!
I got a bag of clementines, some raspberries and strawberries, some apples which I sliced (and tossed with lemon juice), goldfish and those chocolate teddy grahams ans we were all set. Everyone was happy with fruit, pizza and cake!
What are my takeaways?
- We did a good thing by limiting the number of kids. We invited seven; five made it and the party felt big and full. It was a perfect number for such young kiddos.
- I wish I'd started making the decorations earlier.
- I could have done less and the party would've been just as good, so I will aim to underachieve more next year.
Oh! And what did the kids take away in their goody bags?
Do you have a party-throwing philosophy? Personal guidelines or rules-of-thumb? Share them in the comments!