Thursday, May 20, 2010

Throwing a party for your child?

It doesn't have to be expensive to be fun and creative!

I know it can be a daunting task. With my daughters 7-yr birthday approaching this summer, I'm here again, trying to figure out what to do for her.
It will be hard to "out-do" last years Pirate Party (see below), and in fact, I don't think I want to get into the habit of always "out-doing" the last party. So my brain has been mulling.

We went to a birthday party last weekend. It was splendid and simple. It was a bunch of children (maybe 15? 20?) and their parents. It was at the birthday boy's house which also happens to be on a beach. There was no agenda. No planned games, party decorations, not even much food. Just a bunch of kids, a beach, a lovely grassy yard, some watermelon, a hose, and a beautiful sunny day. The parent's all stayed and it was a lovely gathering for all.
When we got home, my daughter said it was the best party she had ever been to.
Holy cow!

This got me thinking.

Her Pirate birthday, was, in contrast, incredibly detailed. It was also a great party and lots of kids said it was the best ever, but in hindsight it was a lot of work, and definitely has got me thinking. Is it really all about the themes, the goody bags, the games? Yes and no. Children don't have the expectations that we as adults have. They are so easy to please at this young sweet age. All they need is friends, a little water to play in, and a beach apparently.

If you're leaning towards something a little more exciting and 'planned' there are a wealth of ideas to save money.

Our Pirate Party was a huge success. We planned it at a park with a beach. Here are some of the details that were involved, all on a budget!

Scavenger Hunt with Buried Treasure:
To do this, we took an old trunk we had lying around and filled it with our 'loot' bags, and buried it on the beach. We marked the spot with a big X made out of sticks.

The children digging up the buried treasure chest

Everyone carrying the treasure chest back to base camp

Scavenger Hunt Clues:
This was so fun. I wrote out each clue in a rhyming, piratical lingo, then typed it in the font called Cezanne (very Piratey, but you can use anything). Then, I tore it around the clue (no straight edges). Then the clue got soaked it in coffee. After it dried, I brushed lemon juice onto the paper, and using a craft heat gun, dried the lemon juice to give it an antique look. Incredible transformation!



The other clues

The first clue was a letter that Captain GoldenEye had left for the kids, stuck on a tree at 'base camp'

And here I am reading the letter from Captain GoldenEye. The children were mesmerized! Is it real??

They found the last clue in a bottle washed up ashore, and the bottle had an 'old' treasure map in it showing where the treasure was buried.

Holding up the treasure map!

Loot Bags:
To do this, I went to a local coffee roaster and got several free burlap bags that the beans come in. I cut the burlap, filled it with the loot and tied with hemp twine.
We filled the loot bags with GOLD. This consisted of rocks we collected from the beach and river, and spray painted. The kids *loved* the gold!

Painting gold nuggets

There is all but one burlap loot bag left in the chest (there were 15 total). You can also see a smattering of gold still left in the chest. The kids thought it was real gold!

Pirate Sword Craft:
We cut swords out of cardboard, and wrapped the handle in black electrical tape. The children wrapped their own swords in tinfoil, then decorated them with glitter and 'jewels'.

Pirate Josh manning the pirate sword craft table

The swords

Pirate Cake:
This was easy and fun. I made two simple round cakes, and put them on a big piece of blue poster board. I iced them white, and sprinkled crushed graham crackers all around for the 'sand'. Then I simply used my daughters collection of Pirate Playmobil toys to decorate.

We bought a bouquet of Red, Black, White, and Gold balloons to make the party spot.

We called it a potluck, parent's brought the food, and voila! Pirate Party!

We had all the party guests come wearing white shirts. We dressed them with a red sash (just red scrappy fabric we got for very cheap) torn into long swatches. Then we wrapped more black scrappy fabric for the bandana. I had also scored a big pack of eye patches off eBay for $5. Arrrrrr!

And here are some of our party guests. We had about 15 kids plus parents, and my sister did a little face-painting for them, hence the little skulls on some of their cheeks!

So, while it was very affordable, it was a huge amount of work to put together, although worth every minute! This year, I want to take a different approach. Especially after the incredible beach party we just went to last weekend.
Stay tuned!


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