Diapers and Dragons

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Older They Get, the Tougher Planning These Things Gets. What Was I Thinking???

I've always been of the opinion that children's birthday parties should be fairly simple and low-key, especially when the children in question are quite young. I've heard about the incredible extravaganzas that some people put on for their tots, complete with petting zoos ("We come to you! Added bonus: excellent excuse to replace your whole lawn afterward!"), inflatable bouncy thingies, clowns (Ack! Really, who thinks kids LIKE those creepy things?), cakes from specialty shops...In other words, people will spend the equivalent of a small wedding budget on a birthday party for a child who may, at most, have some hazy images imprinted on his/her mind for a while.


In the past, all my kidlets' parties have been held at the house. There have been a few snacks, a cake, some balloons and festive party plates, a few inexpensive favors for the young guests. The guests themselves have been limited to family members and a few close friends who also have young children. Fun was had by all. In a very low-key, inexpensive way.

The Widget, however, is having a party this Saturday, and I'm doing things just a touch differently.

First, the party will not be at the house. I have two reasons for this: (1) I really don't feel like cleaning up the house that much and there isn't all that much room on the main floor, and (2) I'd rather have the party at a neutral location, especially because DramaBoy keeps getting confused when his father and I happen to be at the house simultaneously. He's still working through the idea of our separation being a permanent thing.

So I have rented (yes! rented!) a small gazebo at a marvelous little city park nearby, one that has a built-in farm/petting zoo for the delight of our guests as well as a very nice playground that's safely enclosed and has plenty of seating and shade for adults. In addition, the Parks Department is holding a little kite-making and -flying event that morning for kids of all ages. What perfect timing. It's supposed to be in the mid-fifties that day, but shouldn't rain. Let's keep our fingers crossed on that one!

The second big difference is that I actually invited The Widget's little classmates from his Early Learners class at daycare. I decided that since this is happening out of doors and I don't have space issues, I could manage it. Also, I kind of delayed putting this thing together, so a number of The Widget's little friends who are the children of my friends can't come. The more the merrier, right? And even though I know not all of them will be able to come, there should be enough little people running around to keep my boylet happy.

Now I just have to figure out what I'm going to serve them all for a light picnic lunch, how to decorate cupcakes to reflect a kinda-sorta dinosaur theme, and try not to break my limited budget while still decorating that gazebo so it's festive.

Suggestions, anyone?

9 bits of love:

Arby said...

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

1. Streamers are festive and cheap, and easily decorate gazebos! Multiple colors are fun.
2. Buy a bunch of cheap plastic dinosaurs (the small kind) and stick one on top of each cupcake. That way the cupcakes get decorated easily, and the kids get a party favor (2 steps in one!)
3. Food - I'm a fan of grab and eat. Get a bunch of different grab and eat things so you don't have to make anything (whether it's parts of sandwiches and parents can put their own together, or various CostCo-size appetizers). And ofcourse, for the parents, salsa and chips! Maybe hummus and crackers, too, for us crazy vegetarians or health nuts.
For the kids food? I already gave a suggestion on facebook. I don't know what else! (except those tiny juice boxes I see at every kids party now-a-days. I've been to 2 kid parties, so I guess that's not a very big sample size).
If all else fails, PIZZA!!!
Those are my limited tips - good luck! I wish I could be there!

Kathleen said...

Wow, but isn't Arby helpful?

I'd say order pizza. Do you have Little Caesars up there? 5 bucks a pizza. Bring a few bags of chips, maybe some carrot sticks & dip, some soda. Then you don't have to prepare the main course.

Easy idea for cupcakes. Get a bag of plastic dinos. Frost the cupcakes brown and top with a plastic dino. Then you have the dino theme, plus each guest has something to take home. And now that I've written all that, I see SS recommended it too. Well, there you go; great minds think alike. She's just showing off how ready she is to be a mommy!

The Kampers said...

what about just cheese, and grapes, and carrot sticks, and crackers, maybe some lunch meat rolls and juice boxes? I like the dinosaurs on top of the cupcake idea! And streamers and balloons are cheap.

Draft Queen said...

It's been at least 2 years since either of my kids has had a party. Actually, Lil hasn't had one since the year before we went to Disney? When was that? I'm leaning towards 2007? And now that I think about it, she may not have had one the year before that because we drove to GA for my brother's boot camp graduation that November...

A totally had one in 2008. His whole class. AT MY HOUSE. You see now why I took last year off, yes?

But that's not even my point. My point is that her bday is right after Halloween so we usually do her party a bit early and go with that theme. Annually. I have the stuff. The boy? His bday is end of May so it's a last day of school lunch party (always a half day). I usually order pizza for the kids, with fruit choices like various melon and grapes. He's easier because most of the kids he invites we've known since he was 3 so we know all the likes and dislikes quite well.

This just turned into a novel. All to say "I dunno."

You're welcome.

momZombie said...

Warm-weather birthdays are always easier to plan because of the outdoor option. Both of my girls have winter birthdays and parties must be indoors. At this age, kids are just happy to be together and will play with anything you put in front of them. With that in mind, keep the gun, swords, knives and ninja stars at home.

GingerB said...

Good for you, because tonight I was tucking my nearly four year old in, I told her I was excited for her birthday party at The! Little! Gym! (for piles of $) and she said she was not excited and didn't think she would like it. I pretty much flew out of her bed and told her I'd gladly let some other little girl have the party if she would be grateful for it. This made the daughter cry and me so very, very proud of my parenting. Arrghh. I should have stayed simple and cheap!!

Anyway, I was going the same place with the dino-cakes as your other readers. I've seen people hang sheets of gauzy fabric at park gazebos to great effect, looks really nice waving in the breeze but may be a trifle girly.

I always believe in catering by Costco, which has good pizza you can double cut for the little ones and then just serve snacks. They also sell those organic chocolate milk boxes that kids seem to love.

michelle said...

I have anxiety attacks at the thought of throwing birthday parties. Therefore, I have no worthwhile suggestions :(

But... I'm sure it will be wonderful and Widget will have an awesome time.

Anonymous said...

Soooooo.... Watcha gonna do???? We want to know the plan :)
- SoccerSister/Aunti

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