It’s my first party, please be nice!

Birthday Girl

I have decided to throw a kids birthday party, a first for me, and it only took seven years to feel strong enough to commit myself to a few hours of crazy girly excitement. My daughter will soon celebrate her birthday and she has formed quite a nice group of friends so I thought it would be a good idea to invite a few over so she could revel in that wonderful childhood feeling of being special for a day because it’s her birthday. Do you remember that feeling? Waking up on the morning of your birthday and just feeling different; today was all about you, you were one year older and people would acknowledge you more than others making you feel something near to VIP status. If there was a party involved you were usually surrounded by the kids desperately trying to be your best friend so they could be invited – at least that’s what happened to me; I’ll never forget one girl being ridiculously nice to me just so she could be invited and once it was all over she returned to being a bully. She was never invited again!

Although there are 20 kids in her class there’s no way I am holding myself responsible for that many kids so we capped the number at 5, which I think is a good enough number, plus family. If everyone says ‘yes’ we are looking at a combined party of about 14 bodies so it will be a well attended party me thinks. We have also decided on a Hello Kitty themed party – surprise, surprise – so I managed to find favors that will make little girls gush with giggly excitement (thank you Party City!) I don’t want to go overboard on the theme so decorations and stuff will most likely be pink and white. As for activities my daughter has requested a Pinata, Pass-the-Parcel and Pin The Tail on The Donkey – although we’re changing that to Pin The Bow On Hello Kitty. I’m also thinking of doing an art themed game where kids each have a canvas and paint to doodle whatever for 20 seconds before changing to someone elses painting for 20 seconds, change, etc. By the end each child will have a painting that each friend contributed to. (I hope that’s a good idea because sometimes artistic talent causes meltdowns if someone else adjusts it in any way!)

As I’m planning I’m actually getting more excited than nervous; when I was originally asked if we could host a party my anxiety levels rocketed but after a good old-fashioned think through I didn’t see why my feelings should get in the way of my daughters fun. My mum hosted parties for my brother and I a few times and we always had a blast so it would be nice for my daughter to have those memories too.  Even my son is excited that his sister invited him to her party, bless him! Oh, did I mention the party is at our house? YES! We are opting to be utterly mad and host the party ourselves and not choose to be lazy and have a ‘party’ at a kids playground! Don’t get me wrong, that can be fun but there was recently a ‘party’ in which there was no reservation made at a local kids play arena and the birthday girl and mother (who was stoned into another dimension) arrived over an hour late leading to much confusion and quiet ridicule. I will attempt some form of Martha Stewart-esque party and keep my fingers crossed I’m not overstepping my abilities. I’ll let you know how it goes next week!

Next Sunday, 2-4.30pm, our house. The invites are out – it’s game on!

March Break – the planning has started!

March Break 1

You read right – I am already starting to plan for March Break and I’ll be honest with you, I enjoy it! We are more of a ‘Stay-cation’ family so I try to make the most of the week off and keep things interesting and slightly educational. My quest for fun started last year when I was raking my brains for things to do to keep my two young kids occupied so they wouldn’t bother my husband too much. His office is in our basement and the insulation between floors in this house is, well, there isn’t any, so to minimize stomping feet I had to come up with some clever and all-consuming ideas to keep the craziness at bay.

MB3

It was while I scoured the good old internet that I started seeing a lot of activities that combined learning with fun and the more I searched, the more excited I became about getting my kids to make weird and wonderful experiments. By the time March Break arrived I had an arsenal of science based activities that could span the whole week. Due to the fun that was had the kids often ask to make stuff even if it’s only the weekend and it has also seeped into play-dates so now when a friend comes over the first thing they cry out is, “Can we do experiments?!” The current favourite is rainbow volcanoes.

MB2

The key to having a really successful week is to plan ahead and start allocating a different activity for each day.  We would spend most of the morning and some of the early afternoon being messy, then the rest of the day the kids had their own playtime and I gotta say, it worked out brilliantly! The weather was fairly cold so being inside for a whole week straight required plenty of attention diverting cleverness. (I will pat myself on the back here!)

This year the kids have been very much a part of the planning process. They sat with me for over an hour this weekend and poured over various sites and pages filled with ideas and fun. Our starting point was Pintrest before we moved on to learning pages and finally Amazon to buy a book called ‘150+ Screen-Free Activities for kids’. It’s from a great site called Fun at Home with Kids and it has lots of really clever ideas to keep little ones occupied. We also bought some liquid watercolors because a lot of activities call for coloring of some sort and we have found food coloring to be a brilliant stainer! One play-date resulted in a friends hand being dyed blue…I’m sure I may have not been popular that night!

RainbowAs I mentioned the theme last March was Science and every day we did different ‘experiments’, taking our cue from a website called Steve Spangler Science. We found recipes for Ooblek, Borax Snowflakes, color-changing milk and more. It’s a great site and worth checking for plenty of fun ideas. (Links to sites are at the bottom of this article.) Some of the experiments call for ingredients that you may not have in your home so the bonus of planning ahead also includes being able to source out and get supplies needed.

This year the kids want to mix science and art so we have come up with a few new ideas such as watercolor ice cubes, magic snow-globes and gelatin castles. Sounds messy, right?! That’s all part of the fun! My daughter also wants to try her hand at making cosmetics and after a trip to Lush we decided to attempt to make Bath Bombs and lip gloss. While she is doing that my younger son can have a go at making Galaxy Slime. Even though it’s still under a month away, we are all getting a little excited at the fun that will happen and I can’t wait to watch my kids be enthralled by new activities and learning adventures.

If you are dreading the looming holiday and want to find something different to do then here are a few sites I would recommend to start your search for fun. Many of these activities are aimed at younger kids but a few sites also accommodate older children.

  • Two-daloo.com
  • Steve Spangler Science
  • Instructables
  • Etsy (I found plain, paintable Russian Dolls here which the kids decorated themselves. It was a really fun project and a wonderful keepsake.)
  • funathomewithkids.com As I mentioned the book can be found on Amazon although it has been very popular so it may take a while to arrive. Unfortunately for us it won’t arrive until after March Break but we figured it was worth having in the house for all holiday’s.