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Planning My Child's Birthday Party in 24 Hours

Updated on November 30, 2016
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Seafarer Mama/Karen and her family are members of an intentional community in Massachusetts and love the company of their neighbors.

A Pretty "Tea Party" with Friends

September is a very busy month. It just became busier as my daughter has become involved in more activities. She has Kindergarten, ballet classes, and girl scouts. The volume of paperwork required of me from Kindergarten alone has been phenomenal. Then there was my participation in the present 60 Day Challenge initiated by Sunforged, which demanded the lion's share of my energy. In the middle of it all, the time spent reading to and playing with my daughter has been very important to us. Given all this, solid plans for her sixth birthday were perpetually put off. Yes, I sent out the Evite a month ahead of time, but the rest was simmering on the back burners of my brain without physical manifestation for most of that time.

Birthday Party Photos

Looks like we're having a party...
Looks like we're having a party... | Source
Birthday balloons
Birthday balloons | Source
Favor bags decorated by the birthday girl
Favor bags decorated by the birthday girl | Source
Party favors that filled up the bags
Party favors that filled up the bags | Source
The group of girls having fun petting a kitty on a neighbor's porch
The group of girls having fun petting a kitty on a neighbor's porch | Source

Planning and Shopping

September breezed by and the weekend for her birthday approached at an alarming rate. Something needed to be done. The day before her birthday, a couple of lady friends and I chatted as one of them gave me a facial. We decided on a "Tea Party" theme for the girls and created a shopping list of things to purchase and do in the 24 hours leading up to party time - 1pm the next day. My husband and I shopped with our daughter on Friday evening when I picked him up from the train station after his commute from his Boston-based job. Since Stop & Shop offers gas rewards based on our monthly purchase totals, we thought we could reap the best advantage from shopping there. It was close to home, too. I brought the list, coupons, rewards card, etc. and we set upon purchasing items to ensure a delicious party. Our daughter was consulted on the flavor of her cupcakes, her favorite frosting, the types and colors she desired for sprinkles to top the cupcakes with, the party favors, art supplies, and snack foods and beverages that would be served. Ironically, none of them was tea. Apple cider and Newman's Own Lemonade were the winners. When the three of us arrived home from our shopping excursion, we ate dinner and went to bed.

The Big "Day of All Days"

The countdown to party time began the next morning. Since we could not find party favor bags, my daughter decorated some brown lunch bags and filled them with the favors we purchased the night before. I made her birthday card while she did that, so that we were able to squeeze in some "quality time" together doing something creative at the table amidst the madness of preparation. The next "to do" item on my list was cutting up the celery for one of her favorite snacks, "ants on a log." We decided that we would use a 3-sectioned wooden serving plate of my husband's to set up a "build-your-own-ants-on-a-log-snack" station. The final endeavor was the baking of the cupcakes. Cosette and I made the batter from one package of Betty Crocker angel food cake, which was all we needed. That one package made 3 dozen cupcakes. We used paper cups with a balloon-and-streamer design.

Even with a list, we are bound to forget to actually put one of the items in our cart. For us, that was the bouquet of balloons. Since we planned to use them as a marker to guide guests to the room where the party was held, we needed to drive to get them. Yet, there were more cupcakes that needed to be baked and we were closing in on 11:30 a.m. Yikes! Good thing we live in a cohousing village. My daughter and I walked down to the home of a cohousing friend to ask if she would finish baking the cupcakes while we took a short trip to the store for the balloons. Thankfully, She agreed, and we were able to procure both a Mylar balloon bouquet, chosen by our daughter, and a set of pretty, pink, flowered pencils to add to the favor bags. The shopkeepers at The Paper Source store blew up the balloons and we were on our way. When we returned home, our daughter joined a game of "Four Square" with a group of cohousing neighbors while we decorated the dining niche of our community's common house, with the help of more co-housing friends,

The Birthday Party

The basic schedule for the party follows:

1.) Tissue paper art project and snacks upon arrival

2.) Games that involve movement

3.) "Decorate your own cupcakes" and singing the "Birthday Song" to the guest of honor

4.) Gift opening

Spontaneous Party Fun with Friends

My daughter having spontaneous, unplanned fun with friends at our playground
My daughter having spontaneous, unplanned fun with friends at our playground | Source

What Happened

My daughter greeted her guests eagerly, with smiles and hugs. Since all four girls were full of energy, the art project segment of the party was very short. They were eager to play together, and seemed to be of one mind as to what they wanted to do. They played harmoniously in the kids' play room of the common house for fifteen minutes, then moved outside to the playground and field. The adults watched from the niche as we chatted and snacked. The girls were not interested in organized games. They swung on the swings, petted a neighbor's cat on one porch, and squeezed into a giant red chair on another. The adults went with the flow of the girls' energy and took lots of pictures. Given how much the girls' loved to play "kitty" and how much they loved to pet our neighbor's cat, maybe next year we will plan a party based on that theme.

After about an hour, a couple of the adults shepherded the girls inside to wash their hands and decorate their own cupcakes with a choice of icings and sprinkles. They sat down at the table and a "6" candle was lit for the "birthday girl" to blow out after everyone sang the birthday song to her. This was followed by her opening the lovely cards and gifts brought for her by her guests. All in all, the party was a success. We kept the whole affair simple and flexible, and everyone had a great time.

© 2010 Karen A Szklany


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