Saturday, November 19, 2011

Harper's "Friend" Party - A Really LONG Post with Lost of Pictures

I can't think of a better way to do this birthday party wrap-up post, so we'll sort of go one element at a time.

The basic facts:

       - party was comprised of 8 first grade girls, including Harper
       - party lasted two hours (long enough!)
       - dinner of pizza (carryout!), grapes, and carrots was served

The cake:

Did anyone really think I would get through birthday season without baking/attempting to decorate a cake?

Step One: Basic cake. Headache spared by not trying to cut it into particular shape, or even remove it from the pan.
Step Two: Cover in basic pink frosting. "Draw" outline for Harper's requested music note.

Step Three: Add chocolate frosting music note, attempt to stay in the lines, fail. Add sparkling accents. Harper was very concerned that I make the "slash" correctly. That's what she called the little detail on the music note.
Step Four: Admire sparkling accents closely... Harper LOVED those sprinkles.

The Goody Bags/Decorations:
First grade girls' goody bags: fruit snacks (last minute addition to bulk up bags), sticker sheet, two fun pencils, smiley face bracelet, ring pop, Bonnie Bell lip gloss.
I totally struggle with goody bags. I don't want to spend a fortune on them, but I don't want to fill them with cheap junk either. I don't want to give a lousy goody bag, especially when some kids give really nice gifts. I also don't want to give a goody bag that costs more than the average gift. Also, this soon after Halloween, I don't want to give all candy.

Goody bag / paper products table. We were actually pretty cleaned out of paper plates, etc. so we splurged on matching stuff from the party store. Turns out our "theme" was on sale.
We always splurge on fun balloons for the kids' parties, it is generally the only "decorating" I manage. I heart the owl balloon.
Harper had her heart set on a banner this year and it didn't break the bank either. I like that it is easy to store/reuse. Let me know if you want to borrow it! (Seriously.)
The Activities: 

For about the first five minutes or so the kids just ran around like crazy as everyone arrived. It was insane. I wonder whether the parents were grateful to be dropping their children off, or concerned that I apparently had NO CONTROL over the situation...

I remembered late this week that I had some extra shrinky dink sheets - the kind you just draw on, not the pre-printed ones. I thought we'd start with those while Matt was out getting the pizza. The kids were pretty happy to draw on their pieces and no one freaked out and asked for a new one. I'd warned them ahead that I didn't have any extras. (I baked them while the kids were eating).

We ate about 15 minutes into the party. There was a burping contest going on the whole time - what the heck? The girls were MUCH more rowdy that I'd expected. I'm pretty sure one little girl didn't anything except dessert. I figured she'd be okay since the party was only two hours long.

After pizza/grapes/carrots/pretzels/juice I decided we needed to do a calm-ish activity. I gathered the girls in the living room for some charades. We used the cards from our Kids on Stage game. I just had the girls take turns being the "actress." They drew a card out of a cup and acted it out. Anyone could guess what they were or were doing. We did not do any score keeping. Each girl was able to act out two cards. Once everyone had had a turn, they each acted out one more. The girls enjoyed this more than I thought - I was worried someone wouldn't want to do the acting part, and made it clear that no one had to do it if she didn't want to. (Side note, I kind of hated birthday parties as a kid, I was afraid of having to participate in games I didn't understand or wasn't good at...)

We were half way through the two-hour party time when charades were wearing out their welcome so we headed back to the table for singing and eating cake:

The sparkling 7 was a pretty candle but the flame was impossibly small. 

Opening gifts was the next logical step. It feels sort of strange to have everyone sit around and watch Harper open gifts, but that is pretty much standard for a birthday party.

After the gifts were open we were about half an hour from the end of party time. For the next several minutes we let the kids dance around with a video camera connected to the TV so they could watch themselves. I took that idea directly from Giselle and I would like to thank her because they loved it!

We do not have a tripod but made do by placing the camera on the entertainment center. It worked OK. The girls liked getting really close to it, which made me nervous, but they couldn't really knock it down so I don't know what I was worried about.
After ten? fifteen? minutes of dancing, the girls got a little wild - after the third or forth time Matt suggested they not throw things, it was time to transition to another activity.

We ended the evening by using the white board to play a drawing game - basically the exact same thing we did earlier but with markers instead of acting. I think every girl had had one turn and then the parents began to arrive.

All in all I would say the party was a success - the girls had fun and I'm pretty sure there were no tears.

Final thoughts:

- I should have had a calm activity (we made some coloring pages I should have used) set out as the girls arrived to try and avoid the first few minutes of everyone going completely insane.

- I should have waited to turn music on until the actual dancing time, again, to avoid some of the insanity.

- Eight girls was probably one or two girls too many. But which girls not to invite? These were all pretty good friends of Harper's. We could have easily invited three or four more. I'm so glad we didn't!

- Two hours was a great amount of time. If we hadn't been serving dinner it would have been too long.

- One of my concerns about "friend" parties is the gift part. As a parent I know it is difficult to buy gifts for a child you might not know that well. There are also a handful of things that are popular that I really don't want Harper to have - happily none of them appeared tonight!

If you read all of this, you deserve a treat. Do you want some leftover cake?


Chris said...

I just spit out my coffee at the monitor when I read about the burping contest! Somehow, that doesn't go along with that group of girls. How funny! Looks like it all went well, though. And again, you are done until next year!

Anonymous said...

I read your entire post and enjoyed all the details. My favorite part was the burping girls! With our 4 boys, that wouldn't surprise me if it were to happen someday, but I love imagining little girls in party clothes burping as loudly as they can.

Jacob was in kindergarten the year the triplets were born. Our 'neglected' boys have not had any friend parties yet, save the one time we bought (won) a bowling party in a charity auction. We've been busy these past few years plus our house is WAY! TOO! SMALL! I can't imagine bringing any more boys into this crazy place. But my ultimate goal is to have an awesome at-home friend party one of these years. Notes to self: short time frame for party; attempt to find calm activities for boys (ha!); try to get over my dislike for goody bags and give them our anyway. Loving your posts!
~Beth Anne Krahn

Jill said...

may I please have some cake? very cute stuff and great ideas. we may let Keeley have some friends over next year, but we thought 3 was too young. We LOVE the balloon and had it at Keeley's 'who's 2' themed party last year. awesome! we got her a pirate one this year, and who knows next year? probably princess, sadly, which is why we did pirate this year.

Kate said...

This is the first year I think we won't get out of the birthday party thing. With Colin's b-day situated the way it is... we're going to try one in January. I like your 2-hours with food idea. We don't have a lot of toys at our house and I worry about the kids entertaining themselves. We DO have a Wii, though! Thanks for the ideas!

CARRIE said...

Great cake! I'm glad the party went well. And I will certainly take cake, even though it was fun to read your post. But I never refuse cake.

Erin said...

Awesome post. I am taking notes. Sounds like you did a perfect birthday party! And I love the camera/ dancing idea. Though I have a feeling it would turn into a wrestling/ boxing match with Cal & his friends.

Hosting friend birthday parties actually scares the dickens out of me. We're hosting our first on Dec. 10. But we're cheating and having it at the Y. PHEW.

Pam said...

This sounds like a GREAT party. I'm going to steal the video dancing idea. And I loved the girl's burping contest!

Sara said...

I'm rereading your post because Ally's birthday is quickly approaching and I am starting to panic! Not to mention, she brought up inviting a boy! We had 4-5 girls last year and nothing went as planned. We served pizza for lunch, but I had create your own sticker scenes for a craft, and none of them were interested. They were more interested in rummaging thru Ally's toys and playing. I'm not sure how I'll handle it this year..sigh. I do love the idea of the video and dancing. One thing the girls did enjoy was that I made cupcakes and left them unfrosted. Then I gave each girl a small bowl of white frosting, and allowed her to pick what color she wanted--then I dyed it with food coloring. Then I had sprinkles and candy for them to top them with. That was probably the best part of the party! :) Could you find enough safe treats to do that?