Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Dozen Months & 6 Years

I'm proud, relieved, and too tired to think of another descriptive word to say that both of my children's birthday parties are over for the year, and were quite successful.  I know many parents go a little overboard when it comes to their children's parties, especially when it is birthday numero uno.  Husband and I kinda did the opposite.  In mid-February, I started a list of invitees for Baby's first party.  After a few minutes of writing, I stopped and counted- 42.  As much as I enjoy the number 42, the thought of feeding 42 people, making 42 people comfortable, entertaining 42 people, and hearing 42 voices in our small house was more than a little daunting.  We decided to reduce the number of invitees by less than half, and ended up with 11 guests.  2 friends of mine did amazing Minnie Mouse themed parties for their 1-yr-old girls, I've seen princess themed parties, Sesame Street, Hello Kitty, Strawberry Shortcake, farm animals...I chose balloons. Baby likes balloons.  I was only a teensy bit embarrassed to say "balloons" when people asked what theme I had chosen for her party.

"Bah?  Bah?"
"Yes!  Balloons!"
"Bah?  Bah?"
"Yes!  Baby!  Bunny!  Birthday!  Ball!  She's so brilliant."
On Etsy.com, I had seen a really cute wreath made of balloons, and a hair barrette, too.  Instead of ordering those items, though, I decided to make them mycheapskateself.  The wreath turned out okay.  Not photograph-and-blogworthy, but I think most people knew it was a decoration made with balloons.  After finishing the wreath, though, I decided Baby wouldn't care to wear a balloon-decorated barrette.

Like every great mom, I had forgotten all about baking her cake the day before her birthday.  So, I got up early and did a whole bunch of math and guesswork to make her an individual-sized, dairy free, healthy-ish carrot cake with orange glaze.  It tasted a little floury, but wasn't bad, considering.  We had practiced blowing out the candle, although not with an actual flame.  Turns out, that flickering orange guy is really tempting, and she felt she needed to grab it.  Singed a bit, maybe, but she didn't even cry!  I did have to scrape some melted wax off her tiny finger, though.:(

She dug into the cake like she was one of those TV babies.  Both hands were grabbing huge pieces of cake, shoving some into her face and flinging others onto the ground.  Eventually, some of the treat I had worked so hard on made its way into her mouth, at which point she promptly scraped it out, spit several times, and threw the spat-out pieces at me.  Lucky for our guests, my dear Mother-In-Law is an expert at making ice cream cakes, and with the help of my Sister-In-Law, they provided a delicious one that nobody spit or scraped out of their mouth.
Daddy helped her open presents.
She received great, generous, mostly pink gifts, and seemed truly delighted by many of them.  All the guests left with full bellies, and the party was over quickly enough that she didn't even have a screaming, exhausted baby meltdown.

The next day was Sunday, 2 days before our son's actual 6th birthday.  We had decided to throw a surprise party for him about 24 hours before he asked us to throw him a surprise party... despite that, he didn't suspect a thing.

He loves the show Wild Kratts on PBS (it's about wild animal adventures), so that was the theme for his party.  On Etsy.com, I found (and actually purchased) a personalized Wild Kratts cake decoration on edible paper for less than $10!
Add plastic jungle animals, sickeningly overpriced animal print candles, and you've got yourself a pretty amazing cake for  <$20!
I could not justify spending $23 on the personalized Wild Kratts birthday banner, so I decided to make one. On...um...Etsy.com, I had seen one that I really liked and figured I could copy.  Turns out, I'm better at cutting paper than I am at gluing balloons.

As is my wont, I forgot to take a picture when things looked best; before the streamers ripped and the other balloon bouquet disappeared, and the stuffed wild animals got played with.  
The kids played charades, attacked the zebra pinata like a pride of lions attacking an actual zebra, ate pizza, animal crackers, cheetos, fruit, crackers-n-cheese, blew whistles until every adult was near tears, misused the self-inking stamps to tattoo their bodies, and played at keeping the non-helium balloons in the air by combining perfectly jumping, hitting, and screaming.

He had plenty of help opening his gifts.

The gifts were, again, generous and greatly enjoyed.  The food was (mostly) consumed, the kids got along well with each other, and 6-yr-old had a really super time.  He did ask afterward why we didn't tell him that we were throwing him a surprise party, and seemed a little confused about some of the ways we had tricked him.
"So, did you really go over there to run?"
"No, I went over there to set up the party."
"Why did you tell me you were going to run?"
"Because I didn't want you to know I was setting up the party."
"So you didn't go running at all?"
"Why not?"

Not that most of us have much control over these things, but I do recommend not having your children's birthdays within 3 days of each other.  It makes for a very stressful few days.  I also advise you to be honest with yourself about your crafting abilities when you're trying to be thrifty and use Etsy.com for ideas rather than for purchases.  And, if you need any help cutting paper into very simple shapes, you can count on me!

Has anyone ever surprised you with a party?

Best birthday party theme?  Other than the obvious, "balloons", of course.


  1. So. Darling. You are an awesome mother. And how cool to be done for the year! I wonder what that would be like. ;)

  2. Very fun! Your daughter is so adorable; love her dress!!

  3. Feels like a while since I have laughed out loud but I did it twice when reading this!

  4. I also laughed multiple times while reading this post.
    For most of my life I thought "Birthday Party" was enough of a theme.
    "Balloons" sounds like an awesome theme for a one year old.