I have 9 draft posts slated ahead of this one. However, there was a flurry of activity for one of my favourite pins from last year. And, since I’ve been flat tack trying to pull together all the elements for girl’s 6th birthday coming up in T-2 weeks, it seemed like a sign I should reflect on last year’s Princess Party and share my take on the massive chateau we built from the pile of boxes resulting from our USA to Germany transplant. Not to make excuses, but I do feel last year was an “off” year in terms of my celebration execution, on account of how I had a new baby and had to grapple with throwing my first German-speaking party.
A quick comment on my historical efforts to create birthday
parties spectacles my children might someday look back upon and say “wow, our childhood was totally amazing” (or “wow, our mother was completely crazy”). I was asked at girl’s 2nd birthday party (Where the Wild Things Are theme with live costumed actors performing the story and the most amazing Moishe cake ever made) why I would put so much work into an event for a child who probably wouldn’t remember it in 3 months, much less 3 years. Well, I can only recall one birthday party I had as a kid where I was allowed to invite people outside the family, so maybe it’s fulfilling some childhood dream. Given I started throwing over-the-top holiday parties before our kids arrived, maybe the truth is I really wanted to be an event planner, but could never commit to that as a career. In any case, I will share with you some details of these extravaganzas.
So, back to last year’s Princess Party. The decor focal point was this castle, made mostly of Amazon and Ikea boxes with some cleverly placed zip ties to hold it together. We also used zip tie loops on the inner castle wall so we could hang all the princess dresses. The party girls selected gowns, primping and preening as all the guests trickled in.
The cake was my first venture into the fabulous world of fondant. I made my own marshmallow fondant because I’m crazy like that, and the ingredients in regular fondant creeped me out. It was obviously nothing fancy, but girl LOVED it and the taste won rave reviews from everyone. I didn’t get a photo of the real one, but here’s the practice cake I made a few days before. (Yes, I know the photos are sketchy, but starting a blog was the furthest thing from my mind last year when I was relearning how to change diapers.)
There was a treasure hunt (essential at all German birthday parties) to lead into the various activities, starting with colour your own puzzle (“draw the best treasure in the world”), pass the parcel and storytelling with Princess Isabella, then outside for a balloon pop game revealing a scary dragon who was guarding the candy castle piñata. The balloon pop game had gems the girls collected to spend in our Treasureland shop as they were waiting for their parents to pick them up.
Lest I forget, I promised 10 Tips for Extraordinary Kid’s Birthday Parties.
1. Choose a theme. I like looking to literature, particularly stories they’re choosing most at bedtime or songs we sing together.
2. Spend some time gathering inspiration. No matter your budget or style, there are endless sources to scour for ideas. Pick a few key standout elements and let the rest fall into place.
3. Remember the party is for the kids. Things you think aren’t perfect will still be LOVED by the munchkins, so don’t let your perfectionist nature keep you from attempting a project you’ve never tried.
4. Make something with your own hands. You can buy plastic Disney garb, but actually making something for the party will show them the real level of love you have for them.
5. Begin and end with a smile. Plan activities for the start and end of the party as ice breakers and to calm the guests as they leave. The kids and parents will both thank you for making these transitions less awkward.
6. Make everyone feel special. If you have multiple games, make at least one of them an “everybody wins something” activity. Crowns or face painting also help all guests and the birthday kid feel important.
7. Make or buy a cake that tastes good. Because a party without cake is just a meeting.
8. Add a personal touch. There are a lot of great templates for kid’s parties, but truly memorable ones include details related specifically to your child.
9. Do something unexpected. Including the guest of honor in planning is fine, but a surprise pony visit or a balloon drop to close the festivities will produce the most unforgettable moment for you and them. Big or little, just make sure it’s a secret until it happens.
10. Remember the party is for the KIDS. Yes, your home and talents are on display for the parents, and you may feel the need to impress them. But, happy kids make happy parents.
I’m a sucker for a good party story, so share yours with me! I will return favour by writing future posts on my past party takes on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Where the Wild Things Are, Dragons Love Tacos, and Under the Sea – The Singing Mermaid. I’ve also already dreamed up ideas for an In the Night Kitchen cooking party and an Extra Yarn craft party.