Monday, May 10

Birthday ideas for the young child

Toucie turned 5 at the end of April.....we had a really lovely celebration. Us bigger folk in the family always end up having just as much fun as Toucie and I think the reason is that I've learned (now that I'm on my fourth child) to keep things VERY simple and to let every family member involve themselves as they wish. We have followed a basic rule of thumb when it comes to the number of guests to invite: 1 guest for every year of the birthday child's age. I never plan games or activities...just a general theme, like "play in the creek", or "play in the new sandbox". With hopes that it might spark someone else's party planning imagination and prove useful, here is a little list outlining Toucie's springtime birthday celebrations from age 1 to age 5:

Age 1: Playsilk Party
-1 one-year-old friend and his mama came to our home for lunch.
-Favors/Activity: my mama friend helped me dye 10 white playsilks with koolaid and I sent 5 home with her.
-Food: soup and bread for mamas...lots of nursing for the babes :)
-Special present: a store-bought rainbow silk and a wooden horse swing (Nova Naturals)
-1 1/2 hours long

Age 2: Creek Party
-2 two-year-old friends and their mamas met us at a local park with a crystal clear wading creek.
- Activity: playing in the creek, pouring endless cups of water, trying to catch frogs.
-Favors: we made big batches of homemade play dough beforehand and put big balls of the stuff in big paper cones (after wrapping the dough in plastic wrap). We attached the recipe for homemade playdough and added 2 cookie cutters to each cone.
-Food: nibble trays (muffin tins in this case) of fruit/veg/cheese/crackers/etc in toddler-bite sized pieces and cake :)
-Special present: a huge yellow wagon and a wooden ride-on 'bike'
-Supposed to be 2 hours, but everyone had so much fun it lasted for 3 1/2!

Age 3: Sandbox Party
-3 friends of mixed ages (and their parents) came to our house for cake and to inaugurate the new sandbox that Daddy and I had built as her birthday present.
-Activity: Play in the sandbox, of course! We asked each guest to bring a bag of playsand in lieu of a gift. Each child emptied their sand and mixed it with the rest, and so their gift became a 'forever' part of the sandbox.
-Favors: I used the sandbox sand to make a stack of 4 sandbags (palm-sized, like beanbags) out of pretty fabrics for each child.
-Food: just cake this time!
-Special present: well, the a wheelbarrow/shovel/rake
-2 hours long

Age 4: Garden Party
-4 friends of mixed ages (and parents) came to our house to have a "garden party" and some snacks and cake.
-Activity- planting a bed full of sunflower seeds and puttering in the dirt.
- Favors: each child received a big tin watering can (just like the one Peter Rabbit hid in!) inside it were some big tissue paper flowers and a cd that I made of favorite gardening/growing songs. Also an invitation to come back at summer solstice to see how high the sunflowers had grown.
-Food: nibble trays of fruit/veg/cheese/crackers again...this time served in clean flower pots. Cake!
-Special present:
- 2 hours long

Age 5: Rain Party
-4 friends (the fifth one couldn't make it) of mixed ages and their parents met us at a local park where we set up under a picnic shelter with a fireplace...we chose this spot because rain was forecast. We wanted to be outside in the rain, but have the option of shelter from lightening should it become necessary.
-Activity: play in the rain and in the network of little rills that criss-cross the park. (We also brought frisbees, hula hoops, balls, kites, and bubbles to take advantage of the park's broad spans of green lawn)
-Favors: a large, colorful umbrella for each child, tied with a ribbon.
-Food: baguettes and cheese/veg and fruit/hummus...and, instead of cake, two birthday pies as requested by the birthday girl
-Special present: she got her ears pierced...she'd been asking since she was 2 yrs old.(I got mine pierced when I was 5) Also, with much ceremony, she got her own library card.
-3 1/2 hours long (what stamina!our friends can really go the distance!)

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