Tuesday, August 11, 2009

a few lessons about birthday parties

Blaze and I decided to do a Hawaiian Luau theme for her 8th birthday party, which was last week on August 5 (I've needed almost a whole week to recover from it!)
Actually it was an easy party to put together, because we already have a lot of beach-type decorations (Blaze and Dreamer's room is done in beach-theme), and our church also had a lot of luau decorations that I borrowed. Add a couple easy crafts and game ideas from OrientalTrading.com, stuff a pinata with candy, warn your husband he's going to have to lead horses around for pony rides, invite 10 girls, and you have the recipe for a perfect party, right?

I know Blaze was absolutely thrilled with her party, but here's a few things I might do differently next time!

Lesson #1 - don't have it on a week night

When your birthday is in the middle of the week, it's painful waiting for your party on the weekend. So I choose from 6:30-8:30 pm Wednesday night, right on her birthday. I figured that would give me all day to get ready. What I forgot, is that dinner has to happen around 5:30, and because it always takes me longer to get dinner than I expect, I was still frantically cleaning up and throwing dishes in the sink when the girls started to arrive! Also because it was a week night, some of the kids' parents came to get them earlier before the party was over.

Lesson #2 - crafts aren't as easy as the instructions say they are

If you're going to do crafts with 10 girls, try them out ahead of time so you know exactly what to expect. And have someone to help you because all you will hear for the next 20 minutes is "I need help!"

Here's the girls busy stringing hawaiian beads for necklaces and glueing together foam turtles, flowers and surfboards for refrigerator magnets.

The girl in black looking right at the camera is Nicole - Blaze has been spending a LOT of time with her this summer.

Lesson #3 Kids would rather ride horses than play games.

I love kids games. I love relay races and playing tag and capture the flag and I even like musical chairs and pin-the-tail-on-the donkey. I'll probably still want to play party games when I'm 80. But I forget how insecure kids can be about games!

Anyway, I found a few variations on games with a beach/Hawaiian theme: one was seeing how fast you could fish a dozen duckies out of a kiddie pool while blindfolded; another one was a "lei race" - two relay teams racing to put on as many leis around their necks as possible. We started with the ducky game, but several of the girls said "I don't like games, could I ride one of the horses instead?" They must have seen B. saddling Keg and Rebel, our two trusty "bombproof" horses. So we spent the next 45 minutes giving pony rides, and we never did get around to the lei race. But Blaze didn't mind, because B. saddled Jewel for her with her new neon pink reins (the matching saddle pad is on order), and while the other girls were being led around at a walk, she got to trot and lope around on Jewel and hear everyone exclaim "wow, she's a really good rider!"

After we finally coaxed all the girls off the horses, we hung up the pinata and let them beat it up. Here's a picture of Blaze still in her "riding outfit" - her Hawaiian print bathing suit, a sarong, and cowboy boots (she had a grass skirt on earlier but took it off before riding so it wouldn't spook the horses).
We ended the party with the usual singing around the cake (Blaze insisted on an ice-cream cake, and that's another lesson I learned last year... a lot of kids don't like regular cake) and then opening presents.

Here's a shot of all the kids oogling the loot.

This year the trend in presents seem to be "littlest pet shop" and "furberries". A furberry is what looks like a furry berry (it even smells like a berry) and then it pops open and becomes a purple teddy bear. Blaze also asked for anything "Ponyville" (tiny horses with names like "Cupcake"). Oh yeah and Bendaroos (waxy string like things that you can use for decorations or for building).

The best present, in my opinion, was Grandma H. giving her a year's worth of ballet lessons. (It's going to be a busy year: 4H starts this year, too. Plus there's soccer in the fall, and AWANA).

Lesson #4 Girls don't get along very well.

I actually learned this one last year. It's tricky when you invite a bunch of school friends, who all know each other, and then other friends who know Blaze but don't know anyone else at the party (a friend from our neighborhood, Ruby; friend from church, Claire; friend via parents' friends, Tabitha). That's why I planned crafts and games to try to keep them all occupied so there wouldn't be so much opportunity for feeling "left out". It went a lot better his year but there was still a few signs of girlish cattiness. Next year I'm tempted to try to limit her to picking fewer friends, but I know that is no guarantee. Why are young girls so catty and fickle with each other? I remember that after age 10, I was too afraid to have my own birthday parties anymore!

Fortunately this hasn't been the case so far for Blaze. She looked forward to her party for months and wasn't disappointed one bit. So I am very relieved. And now, almost a week later, I finally have all the decorations taken down (though I'm still finding koolaid stains on the floor, and bits of wrapping paper under chairs). I'm so glad I won't have to worry about planning a party for the twins' birthday for at least another couple years!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Margo - I took notes! :)
    Lucky girls you have though - with a mom that throws them such awesome birthday parties!