Before I go into all the details, let me preface this by saying I am a Grinch. A party pooper at heart. It hasn’t always been this way. But having kids and feeling the cultural obligation to have over-the-top parties has soured me a bit on birthday parties. I don’t mind attending others’ parties, but planning our own family’s has made me Grinchy. I’ve even been toying with the idea of not having a party for Katie this year. Instead, I’ll let her pick one or three friends (You can’t have an odd number of girls – ever.) and take them somewhere like Build-a-Bear workshop or out to a special dinner. It’s an idea I’m still formulating.
But it still doesn’t get me off the hook for Jackson’s parties. Heaven forbid that one day down the road, he whines that “Katie got all the special privileges! She got to have parties until she was six and you stopped having parties for me at age two!” Siblings whine about the treatment of others, you know. (Of course, my siblings would never do that. Right.) I’d like to say that I’ll just turn to him and reply, “Deal with it!” Hmmm… that’s an idea. But until then, I must party on and plan chaos for my little angels. Ahem.
So… now that those details are out of the way, I can tell you about the *small* party we had for Jackson. It was a very limited guest list (immediate family, two neighbors, and two friends) and I fretted quite a bit about offending other friends for not including them on the guest list. It finally boiled down to a question of who Jackson sees most often, and I just drew a line there.
I searched online for cute (read: EASY) party ideas, and settled on three: space, football or construction. FamilyFun magazine’s website had really great ideas for all of these themes, and I compared them and settled on the construction theme. It seemed easiest, cheapest and involved the least amount of craftiness. Woo hoo! I based everything on this link I read on their website.
The decorations were simple. I used this tutorial I found on Ohdeedoh and sewed up some two-color streamers.
We also decorated with cones, orange caution tape, yellow balloons, and yellow construction signs made out of poster board. I used our own toy dump trucks and borrowed some from neighbors for more decorations and toys for the kids to use. In the photo, you can also see LOTS of large cardboard boxes.
When each party guest arrived, he or she was given a personalized tool belt to wear. Inside the belt was a selection of personalized foam tools for the guests to play with all day then take home as their favor. I found the tool belts and foam tools for a dollar each at Michael’s. I personalized them to make them cuter, but also because I didn’t want to end up with three extra hammers or wrenches at the end of the day. This way, everyone took home their own favor!
We used some of the dump trucks to hold chips and dip on the food table. You can see the cute plates I found too. The orange and yellow square plates were from the Wal-Mart Easter aisle, but they fit in our theme perfectly. The stop sign plates were just circular red plates I found and trimmed into an octagon with scissors. FYI: don’t think you can be all cute and write “caution” or “detour” on the plates. I tried that with Sharpies and it didn’t work. The plates have a waxy coating that Sharpies can’t adhere to.
Besides the HUGE appliance boxes that I collected from local stores for the kids to crawl in, color and beat on, I also saved paper towel tubes and random small boxes for the kids to stack and knock down. I tore the boxes apart on their seams, flipped them inside out, and taped them together again.
To keep the kids busy, there were markers and paint daubers to color the cardboard boxes, plus we had a marshmallow building activity. The kids got a pile of toothpicks and marshmallows, and built Tinker-Toy-style. They ate more than they built, but it kept them occupied until pizza arrived.
The masterpiece of the party was the amazing backhoe cake that Grandma made using this link from FamilyFun. Jackson’s face lit up when he first saw it, and he kept asking throughout the party, “Can I eat my cake yet?”
Turns out the party was lots of fun, not too expensive, and small enough that the chaos was at a minimum. I think Jackson enjoyed himself. Can you tell?