On Her Flying Trapeze

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Tip Tuesday – Birthday Parties

I keep getting spam email that says they have “just the thing to make your girl happy.” I almost want to click on the link. Maybe they have a good deal on My Little Ponies or Popsicles or people who push swings REALLY HIGH.

Another thing that makes my girl Laylee happy is a good birthday celebration. She throws several a week for various friends, real and imaginary. Every day used to be Ducky’s birthday but now the celebrations are spread between Laylee, Babs, “The Other Snow White,” and any of her other favorite friends. Somehow, it never gets to be my birthday. Hmmm… I may have to look into this. Perhaps the Daring Family has also stumbled upon the elixir of life and ageless beauty. I will keep you informed.

Besides me, it seems that nearly everyone has a birthday sometime or other. What are your great suggests for birthday celebrations? These can be kids’ birthday parties or you can branch out to include us older folks.

This Tip Tuesday was inspired by Lei and Mir. Lei posted about a great party a while back and Mir got me thinking about alternative birthday ideas. I love her perspective and the thoughtful way she teaches her children about charity and service, even on a day that’s traditionally all about the birth-ed one.

For the most part, I am a huge fan of a home party with a theme. One I’m thinking of doing comes from my Post Partum Dr who, when we got sick of talking about my brain chemistry, gave me some advice about child rearing. He’s a big proponent of make believe and allowing children to have a magical childhood where they are encouraged to believe in things that they can’t see that just might be true.

He told me about a fairy birthday party he had for his tween daughter. (No, as far as I know they didn’t eat any beef at the party, but I do want to point out that I am now listed as the 2nd result on google when you search for the words “beef” and “tweens.” My wildest dreams are coming true through this very blog.) They went out into the forest and found sticks and twigs to make tiny fairy houses in the woods. They told fairy stories from American folklore and even the most cynical in the bunch left with a spark of magic in their imaginations. I love that idea.

Another great idea that seems even greater now that I have kids is to send your mother a gift on your birthday. She's the one who really deserves it.

Now you go.

35 Comments:

Anonymous HolyMama! said...

this is SO UNCOOL of me to admit, but i get hives at the thought of a birthday party at my home. i'd rather pay a bazillion dollars to the Chuck E Cheese corporation than deal with the stress.

4/24/2006 11:31 PM

 
Blogger Nettie said...

I love doing at home birthdays for my kids. It's a fun way to be creative and make a party specific to your child's interests. I posted about a tea party one we had on my blog yesterday.

My birthday tip is about homemade birthday cakes. Instead of writing "Happy Birthday" on the top, I always write "Maddy is 5!" (substituting appropriate names and numbers, of course). Not only is it easier, because it is shorter, but when we look back at birthday pictures we can quickly identify who's party and what year. Die hard scrapbookers would never need this, but my unorganized picture boxes do!

4/25/2006 4:47 AM

 
Blogger Heth said...

Here is a tip that I've never actually DONE, but it sounded cute when I read it in a magazine. At the party have two chairs set out for during gift time. Birthday kid gets one and the gift giver gets the other. Instead of the mad crazy gift shredding time, it's a little more intimate and the giver gets to sit knee to knee with the birthday kid while their gift is opened. Isn't that sweet?

4/25/2006 5:50 AM

 
Blogger Aunt Murry said...

I have a niece that has a birthday in December so in June I have a Half Birthday for her. That was she doesn't get as ripped-off by getting birthday and Christmas together.

4/25/2006 7:24 AM

 
Blogger Rachelle said...

I love doing birthday's! I only have one child who just turned 1, but I had a blast doing his birthday! It's important to me to make a cake and decorate it for them. My birthday cake tip - plan in advance and do a practice one if needed. I posted pics of my son's "Very Hungry Caterpillar" birthday invite and cake last week on my blog.

4/25/2006 7:52 AM

 
Anonymous Tina said...

First time tip poster here. Just love these! Makes Tuesdays something to look forward too.

For birthdays, I like to make up a simple sign (I do it on the computer) but they could certainly be hand written. You prepare it with the help (at least just by talking with) the birthday kid. The sign is then worked into the theme of the party and posted at a prominent place or as a centerpiece.

Here are some of the things I've included -
Now that Jake is 5 here are
5 of Jake's favorite things ...
5 of Jake's favorite foods
5 of Jake's favorite things to do
5 things that Jake can do now that he is 5 ...
etc.

It so fun, and really gets everyone at the party to know the child even better - then I keep this sign (I just print it on a regular sheet of paper - so it fits easily into a scrapbook or binder) is kept from year to year and it is fun to remember what they were in to back then.

As my son got a bit older I also added a really quick - one of Jake's favorite memories from when he was 5 was.

4/25/2006 8:16 AM

 
Blogger Julie said...

I love Heth's idea about the gift giver. That's my one pet peeve about kid's parties - the kids are so crowded around that none of the adults can see what they're opening. Going to have to include that one.

I also love the idea of sending Mom a gift on your birthday. Going to have to remember that one in um, 17 days :-)

4/25/2006 8:31 AM

 
Anonymous misha said...

I love the mom idea. beautiful.

my favourite is to do a brunch for our close friends that have kids that are our kid's friends. It's lots of hands on deck to help with the kids and the grownups get to be together.

we do sit down for the grownups and serve them waiter style and then kids have a blanket picnic indoors or out. tons of work. kind of stressful, but so special.

4/25/2006 9:40 AM

 
Blogger Liz said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4/25/2006 9:48 AM

 
Blogger Liz said...

can't spell, that's why I deleted -
my biggest fun at birthday parties was getting to invite people I wanted to be there, not necessarily my age group, per se. But then, I didn't get many parties, we mostly made it a family thing but mom and dad made it special by letting us choose the meal, dessert, etc.

4/25/2006 9:54 AM

 
Blogger Amber said...

I think with birthday parties less is more... less money and more homemade fun that is. I've taken my daughters to parties where they have a jumbo bouncey house, a magician, a balloon maker, and spiderman shows up. The kids think it's fun- but at that point it's more crazy and chaotic and overwhelming.

I like to do simple parties with a few close friends (not 30+ kids everywhere) that we do fun things like craft projects and paint nails and stuff. The kids love it and it's more memorable (IMO).

Of course for me the most important part of the whole event is the cake- but that's because that's the funnest part (for me to make).

Sorry for the novel..

4/25/2006 10:19 AM

 
Blogger Woman with kids said...

You're so lucky... the only spam email I get promises to make body I don't have work better, in ways I never realized they should work.

4/25/2006 11:54 AM

 
Blogger Tri Mama said...

I love doing exchanges for birthday parties instead of gifts. I have done a book exchange and a disney movie exchange. The kids love it and everyone leaves with a present (and i don't have to do goodie bags).

4/25/2006 12:10 PM

 
Blogger Lei said...

I have read several great ideas lately in mags - one was actually an art party similar to the one I threw, except the children took their paintings to a local rest home and delivered them to the residents. What a sweet idea, huh? I so wished I'd thought of it sooner... would have been perfect!

I already have an idea for my daughter's party next year (this is an obsession, really)! She's an April child and was born close to Easter. So, we're going to do an Easter egg hunt by night (with flashlights) followed by a backyard campout/slumber party. She is super excited and I am certain I will be hearing about it for the remainder of the year, lol.

Btw, love the fairy party idea. I saw something written up on that recently... super cute ideas like a treasure hunt for charms and miniature fairy letters that need to be read with a magnifying glass.

4/25/2006 12:58 PM

 
Blogger Lei said...

Oh and Heth... we tried that idea out this year and it was wonderful. All the pictures have the giver and gift (to remind us who brought what) as well as the excitement on both childrens faces, which is priceless.

4/25/2006 1:01 PM

 
Blogger bon said...

I like the rule of thumb that however many years old the birthday child is, is how many little guests they may have... the 5 year old gets 5 friends etc...

Plus once we hit the realm of "drop-off" party that ONE HOUR start to finish for the whole party is very important. This means one cute activity, one round of "Happy Birthday," cake, gifts and a little bit of running crazy THE END. This also means that an "at home" party is something that Mama can stand the idea of and she will actually agree to do.

The two chairs for gift opening? Sign me up!

4/25/2006 1:26 PM

 
Blogger Cheerio's on my butt? said...

I totally agree with Holymama! I have recently done a party at Pizza hut and I am sold! No mess to clean up etc. But I still do a theme for my kiddos on the cake and stuff. Yeah...I'm real exciting here! Oh got a contest on me blog you might enjoy!

4/25/2006 1:26 PM

 
Blogger ABC Momma said...

I am so not the party thrower--I just buy a cake at Albertsons and take the family out to eat. Although, my son will be 8 in a month and is expecting a party with friends because he didn't have one last year. We've messed up on our rotation. I'm thinking he can have a small BBQ with his friends on his b-day, but make a great big deal with the family on his baptism day. Any suggestions?

4/25/2006 1:42 PM

 
Blogger Kim C. said...

Some fun things we've done:

For several years, we used the same Birthday Tablecloth for every party. Guests signed with permanent markers.

Bought a slip-n-slide. We sprang for the $30 3-lane model, and set it up before the party. We needn't have worried about cake, ice cream, or anything else. We had to beg the kids to come back up the hill for gift-opening.

Treasure hunt: we took donations of loose change ahead of time instead of gifts and did this for 3 children together, who got to split the loot at the end of the hunt. The loot was buried in a small locked box inside an old chest with a padlock, and the key to each was found in the course of the hunt. All of the guests participated in the hunt, and the chest had balloons and party gifts for all the guests besides the locked money box for the birthday kids to share.
I'll have to blog about it - it has become the standard by which all parties are measured now. Needless to say, none have measured up since. :)

And we nearly always give the birthday kid a choice of desserts. I can make the decorated character cakes, but they're time consuming. I'm pleasantly surprised at how often the kids would rather have something fun and easy like banana splits, ice cream sundaes, cupcakes, parfaits, or ice cream floats. Often the dessert choice provides a fun activity for the party: guests can make/decorate their own.

4/25/2006 1:45 PM

 
Blogger Chilihead2 said...

Our birthday person gets to choose what we have dinner that day. It can be cooked at home or eaten at a restaurant.

I've done all but two birthday parties at home. In fact, we're having one here on Sunday! The girls are all dressing up in diva costumes and we'll do hair, makeup, and put on a singing show.

4/25/2006 2:19 PM

 
Blogger Jewels said...

We love parties at our house. The girls pick their themes way in advance so I keep a look out for clearance items.

One of our best parties was a "favorite color" party. My oldest's favorite color is blue. So everything at the party was blue. Blue Moon ice cream, blue m and m's, blue jello...you get the idea. You can guess what else was blue the next day. On the invitation we asked everyone to wear blue in honor of the birthday girl.

Our Target has a dollar store section at the front and after awhile the stuff will go on clearance for 25 cents. Birthday party jackpot!

4/25/2006 3:09 PM

 
Blogger Heather said...

Hmmm, so I have had only one kids' birthday party so far that wasn't a complete failure.

Not sure I'm qualified to comment here.

I think the best thing we've ever done for birthdays is to not have a birthday party. Last year, for our daughters 7th birthday, we had a birthday date insted.

She got to choose two friends to come with her and J Dub and I took them out to dinner and were planning on bowling but happened upon a traveling carnival. So, we ate cotton candy and rode the ferris wheel and slid down the really big slide. We had three terribly excited and overjoyed girls on our hands. They had the time of their lives and didn't stop talking about it for weeks. And for me it was a much less stressful, much more fun way to blow 50 bucks than a party.

4/25/2006 3:35 PM

 
Blogger Heather said...

I love heth's idea for gift-giving time. I definitely prefer that to nagging my kid to say "Thank you" after each present and him not even looking up as he mumbles, "ank oo". On to the next one!

4/25/2006 3:39 PM

 
Blogger Heather said...

And I'm wondering why I'm not good at the party think. My Mom was always awesome. Okay, I'll stop posting now.

4/25/2006 3:39 PM

 
Blogger Farm Wife said...

Tea parties are always a blast. Especially if everyone is asked to "dress" for tea. We threw one for my sister when she was 8 or 9. It was a HUGE HIT.

Being a southern gal at heart, the big thing south of the mason-dixon is beauty parlor parties. You can rent out the entire parlor and have hair and nails done. Makes them feel grown up, and Mommy's can hang out too...although the thought of eating cake in a hair salon kinda creeps me out.

We do family B.B.Q.'s Pot luck of course.

4/25/2006 6:17 PM

 
Blogger Amy A. said...

One year I did a crazy fashion show party when my daughter was 8 or 9. We set up a run way and everyone modeled the goofy things they wore.

I also always give out snacks during present time. Keeps everyone seated so they don't get in front of the camcorder!

Fortunate to have a son with a summer bday so that is always outdoors with lots of water.

This year, another daughter planned her own 8th year birthday party. She planned games and picked her own favors and decorations. It was a lot less work for me and she had a blast!

We also have most of our parties in our home because I'm too cheap to do the Chuck E. Cheese thing, except for my last daughter, who has a Dec. 23 birthday and C.E. Cheese is the only place that isn't decorated for Christmas, which makes her birthday more special and seperate. It's hard to share a birthday with Jesus, after all!

4/25/2006 6:26 PM

 
Blogger Cmommy said...

While it's still Tuesday...

For her fourth birthday, we gave our daughter a beautiful life-like baby doll (you know, the $100 one that sucks her thumb). LilDollyGirl had a "baby shower" birthday party. The guests were told to bring their baby and blankie (child care provided!). We played 'pass the paci' and 'blanket folding race'. The gifts were related to the doll. VERY cute! My daughter will be eight this year, but our friends still talk about that party. :-)

4/25/2006 6:32 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

We don't open presents at the kids' parties; we wait until later. My older son has ADHD and is easily distracted and overwhelmed, and present opening can put him over the edge. (We also don't do big parties, for the same reason.) And we have noticed two things: his friends don't seem to care/notice that he's not opening gifts AT the party (more time to play! and eat cupcakes! hooray!) and he enjoys the presents more when he can open them without a lot of distraction and chaos.

And then there is this funny bonus: when he opens presents without his friends there, he actually ASKS to send thank you notes, to be SURE his friends know how much he liked the gift. I swear this is true.

4/25/2006 6:55 PM

 
Anonymous Caryn said...

I don't know of any terrific birthday themes, but one year my mom made these: http://www.recipezaar.com/17865. We LOVED them.

4/25/2006 7:06 PM

 
Anonymous Caryn said...

P.S. They may be young, but we had some fun parties where my mom made cupcakes and/or cookies, then gave us icing in different colors and told us to go to it with the decorating. It was a mess, but so much fun!

4/25/2006 7:07 PM

 
Blogger The Flip Flop Mamma! said...

I did a google search for "beef" and "tweens" and you come up 3 times! You go DYM!

4/25/2006 7:12 PM

 
Blogger Leah said...

I just celebrated my oldest son's 7th birthday. We had a party at the park. We invited friends from school and church, and family.
He had cake, ice cream, and played to his hearts content.
It was a great day, and he had more fun than if we'd given him some kind of themed party at home or at a restaurant.

4/25/2006 7:40 PM

 
Blogger Jen3 @ Amazing Trips said...

Hi - I stumbled on your site and thought your video clip of dozing baby while sleeping was a riot. What's even better is that you caught it on film. That's the kind of material for Funniest Videos. You could win a boat load.

Re: birthday parties ... we had one last October for our trio. My husband made a 7-tiered cake (ancient family recipe) that required us spending $650.00. The ingredients for the cake were only about $40 ... but the specialty pans and 8-quart KitchenAid mixer cost a FORTUNE. We had the party ... a load of people & kids came ... and within 3 days our kids were sick. They'd never been sick before and it was awful. I blame it on the party. (The cake, fortunately, came out great). Since then, I swore I'd never have another birthday party until my kids were big enough to blow their own noses. We'll see. They'll be 2 in a 6-months and I'm already thinking about a petting zoo...

4/25/2006 8:16 PM

 
Blogger HLH said...

Yah, birhtday's at my house make me really stressed, it means way to much leaning and then I have to negotiate the whole, what toys are you willing to share bit. The last few years we have held my son's parties at the nearby park. The kids play and we offer food. This year we went to a park that my son loves that has a train, so in addition to playing, the kids all got to ride the train. Way more fun I think than haning out at our house.

4/26/2006 8:02 AM

 
Blogger beth said...

We're moving the week after my son turns one. The last thing we need is more toys to pack up so we are having our friends write wishes for him. We had our family do this back when he was born. I'm not sure of the specifics yet, but all these wishes will go into a wish box of some sort, and I intend to write something new for him each year (like what he has been doing that year and a new wish specific to his age). Then we will probably either read these together each year on his birthday once he is old enough or maybe I will give it to him as a gift one year, like when he is going to college or when he turns 16.

This is a great post and perfect timing for us. I am planning his first b-day party now and have gotten a lot of ideas!

4/26/2006 11:37 AM

 

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