My little man turned three this weekend. This indicates we are approaching the halfway mark to the birthday season. As you can plainly see we like to conceive children during Valentine’s Day weekend so it’s back to back birthdays around here; first it’s Edie, six days later it’s Kale’s. But then two weeks later it’s Craig’s, shortly after that it’s Sweet Baby Jesus’s and then a few weeks later it’s mine.
So with much experimentation and it being my third year of birthday bootcamp I think I got the simple kid birthday celebration thing nailed down to a framework I’m comfortable with and brings the maximum amount of joy and minimum amount of meltdowns:
- The kids are awaken with a gift, usually a hand knit item finished at midnight the night before, and their usual morning verse but with a saucy twist:
Day is breaking,
Birds are waking,
Calling Birthday boys (girls)
To wake from their dreams.
- I love the classic guideline of number of guests not exceeding the age of the birthday girl or boy. This is easy to implement here due to my kids not running in the hugest social circles being Backwoods Mama loin fruit and all.
- They wake up to the house decorated with streamers hanging over the breakfast table in their favourite colour, balloons in same colour, and their designated birthday banner hung up. I made Edie’s pink, Kale’s blue, Craig’s green, Sweet Baby Jesus’s red, and mine purple and hang them around the kitchen so by the end of birthday season there is a rainbow of buntings that will stay up until Whitsun when the white ones go up for summer. Portlandia enough for you?
- The kids’ parties I like to have right after lunch because that way I don’t have to worry about serving a meal and instead offer a simple snack like hummus and carrots, guacamole and a low sugar beverage like a herbal tea and apple juice combo – with just a splash of the latter. You call it punch and the kids get all excited and you get to witness a fascinating placebo effect style sugar high.
- When Edie turned six we started with party ice breaker activities (Kale’s too young. He was just super stoked to have the big boys over.). Last year we traced out her full body outline on a big piece of paper and then had the girls colour her dress with watercolours when they arrived and this year it was a treasure hunt with yarn and a crown for each guest waiting at the end of the tangled throughout the house strings. After that we open the presents.
- After presents we play games, and again, being homeschool, living in the boonies, this is a novelty for my offspring so is a big highlight. I keep these super easy though I attempted this complex tie a potato to your waist and drag it around the ground behind you game that got a lot of giggles but was logistically challenging. Sardines is always a hit – remember that one?
- Then some free play time (which is the part my kids loooove) while I get cake fixin’s ready and then it’s cake time! My stand by cake recipe is the one from Heaven On Earth which is low sugar, super easy to make and seems to be pretty much fool proof.
- And as the coup de grace – the puppet show. Every year until this one I told Edie the story of her coming over the rainbow bridge but this year she requested something a little more sophisticated than my limted puppet stash can manage so I called in an expert (Kale still got the amateur show) Next year I’ll be more prepared – if she is still into puppet shows that is.
- And then it’s tata time to our little buddies, maybe give them a goody bag that contains a little handmade gift from us (this year we made mini bunting banners) and we walk them out to their cars and frolic in some fresh November snow. Yes. Snow!
And there you have it, my current recipe for a simple birthday party. For more ideas and inspiration check out the Birthday Book. But even with keeping it simple like this I still manage to get pretty uptight for a couple of days leading up to the first one. I guess that comes from wanting things to be super magic and golden. I just try to be prepared well in advanced, get lots of sleep, lay the whole family low for a few days prior to the festivities (because I’m anal like that), remember that they’re mostly stoked about just having their friends over and enjoy the party myself (and a piece of cheese and a little glass of wine beforehand. Thanks Cheech for that timely suggestion)!