My girls are still pretty young so they would never know if their birthdays passed and we didn’t do anything. They also wouldn’t notice if their party didn’t have a theme or any decorations. So why bother? My husband even thinks I’m a little kooky for putting so much effort into parties for kids under the age of 5. I planned Sophia’s first birthday party before she had even reached 8 months. Her first and second birthdays were Sofia the First and Tea Party. The only year we didn’t do something with a fun theme was last year due to COVID, but we still had some simple dollar store Princess decorations. That was Nina’s first birthday unfortunately, so she hasn’t had many themed parties yet. But I digress. Why do I get so into these parties?
My parents did give us birthday parties every year for family and friends, so I definitely didn’t go without. Hubby Stanzell (HS) got birthday parties where his grandma hung a birthday banner and his mom homemade the cake. However, neither of us had the cutesy themed birthdays. HS couldn’t have cared less. I always loved looking at the magazines with party supplies dreaming of some themed event. I suppose it shouldn’t have come as a shock to anyone that I ended up pursuing a degree in theatre and writing a book. Admittedly, I may be living vicariously a bit by doing these, but at the end of the day, my kids ENJOY getting this little thing I had always wanted. It’s a good outlet for me. We really don’t do much for toys and asked others to do the same. Therefore, I think it only makes sense we put the effort into the experience. As I always tell the kids, it’s about the others’ presence not their presents. Plus, they get to feel really special for that brief space in time. That will make a more lasting impression than the most expensive gift any day.
Being the girls’ birthdays are 3 weeks apart in June and July, they will never get to celebrate during school time. They are also going to likely share a party until the day they specifically request not to. Our summers in Minnesota are so short; why not throw a big get together for the two of them to get the maximum amount of fun? Sophia starts preschool this fall, so next year we could be inviting school friends, but as of now it’s church friends, neighbors, family friends, and family. Around March every year, I start thinking about what I want to do for their party. I have the invitations out the beginning of June typically even though I throw the party in early July between their birthdays. Figuring out how to make a memorable experience for my kids gives me a thrill wedding planning or planning events for myself never did. This year, I talked to my girls about what kind of theme they wanted. When they became deadlocked on mermaids or unicorns, I decided to just do both. When I found the amazing banner on Amazon, I knew it was meant to be.
This is where the fun came in. I began to look for anything and everything that could go with the theme. I found invitations that had a mermaid tail on a unicorn. Pinterest became my go to for snacks. Not to brag, but I think I did pretty well: unicorn horn chips (bugles), homemade unicorn popcorn (popcorn with candy melt and sprinkles), salt water taffy, goldfish crackers, homemade mermaid ice cream, and rainbow fruit and veggies. I also served a few different colors of Hawaiian Punch. The decorations looked way more expensive than they were. Most things were from the dollar store or were under $5 from Walmart. I used some craft supplies from the dollar store to create personalized unicorns with the girls’ names and birthdates as well as mini canvases with their theme of choice. Nina had everything mermaid and Sophia had everything unicorn although both do like both. I also made a bunch of melt and pour soap as party favors for the guests. Sophia had a blast helping with this one nap time. HS cleaned the garage which he uses as a wood working shop in the summer and I got to work. Even though I had spent the day prior to the party deep cleaning my house, I got up early the day of the party to set up. I wanted to beat the heat and not be rushed. HS thought it was a bit much, but I transformed the garage into a magical paradise for our girls.
The party started at four so Nina could still have her nap. At 3 o’clock, I got her up and got the girls dressed in frilly skirts and custom mermaid unicorn tshirts. They LOVE matching so this was an exciting moment for them. I also got the cakes out of the fridge to start acclimating to warmer temps before I would eventually bring them out to the 85 degree party space. At 3:30, all of the food minus the cakes were brought out. The soaps were too , but I think next year I’ll wait on that. They ended up melting a bit on the table from the heat. Not that anyone cared, especially since some where still under the table and the guests went home filthy. More on that in a bit. We also took this time to give the kids their big present from us as their Daddy was setting it up in the back yard. The kids now have an awesome wooden playhouse to call their own. Along with an inflatable pool, trampoline, swing set, and mini basketball hoop, our backyard is a kids’ summer adventure zone. This is why I never plan games or activities. I just let the kids loose in the backyard. And I can assure you this has never failed yet. At 4, the guests began to arrive and the party began.
They didn’t have to wait long to get their first present from a guest. When their “Uncle Eric” came (HS’s best friend), he immediately put up their new ladder for the trampoline so they could get on by themselves. He had been on HS for months to do something. Apparently, he didn’t want to wait any longer and just got the kids’ one himself. This was an excellent thing as at one point 6 or 7 little girls between the ages of 2 and 7 were on the trampoline at the same time. Most of the little boys chose to play in the dirt. I’m not even a little bit kidding. So many people they care about came to celebrate. Sophia’s best friend was sick, but her mom (my best friend) and one of her younger sisters (Nina’s best friend) still came and surprised them. Unfortunately there were a few people who had prior engagements or had come down with an illness, but I can honestly say I was so pleased with the turnout. The “piece de resistance “ was when I brought out the 2 custom cakes. My friend, Taylor, is a very talented cake decorator. I had arranged to pay her for 2 cakes made to the girls’ requests. A chocolate cake with raspberries decorated like a unicorn for Sophia and a vanilla with Bavarian cream dyed blue (Nina wanted a blue cake) decorated with chocolate sea creatures and mermaid tails for Nina. These cakes tasted even better than they looked. In all of the years I’ve known “Uncle Eric”, I’ve never seen him eat cake. He doesn’t like sweets much. However, he had multiple pieces that day. The girls were pleasantly surprised to have gotten many gifts themed to their party including clothing, water bottles, umbrellas, and books. Below is a brief overview of some of the amazing nontoy gifts they received.
I was beyond glad at the lack of toys. Sure, there were a couple, but nothing big. My girls have very different present opening methods. Sophia opens them as fast as she can, throwing the previous gift to the ground in order to open the next. I’m not even sure she knew what half of the items were. She certainly didn’t open the cards. I still don’t know who all of the gifts were from. Nina on the other hand, opened her first gift which was a little mini Anna doll from Frozen and showed very little interest in opening anything else. We got a look when she opened Princess goldfish crackers since she loves those, but she was too in love with her Anna. She even fell asleep with it clutched in her hands. Unfortunately the very next day, her Anna doll disappeared without a trace at church so Momma had to go get a new one. We learned a valuable lesson in watching our things and how material possessions are temporary. Did her devastated two year old mind comprehend that? Probably not. But her sister’s did. Might as well turn negative experiences into a lesson.
At the end of the day, everyone had a great time. There was so much laughter from children which is the best sound in the world. Even HS talked about how much he enjoyed seeing so many kids have so much fun. It’s easy to go to bed happy when you just had a bunch of smiling, tired, and dirty children leave your house. Throwing themed parties may not be for everyone. But it is good for my momma soul. I’m already thinking about Henry’s first birthday which isn’t even until February.