I love hosting parties with enough preparation and structure that it feels a little more special than usual, but not so much so that it feels stressful. Pinterest-worthy parties amaze and impress me, but the truth is, low-key party vibes are my jam and always will be.
(But no judgment here—isn’t the colourful tapestry of our differences part of what makes life on earth so interesting?)
To celebrate our children’s earliest birthdays, we simply had family over for a few gifts, a meal of the birthday boy’s favourite foods, and dessert with candles and singing. It was perfect way to celebrate our children, reminisce about their births, and toast the parents for another year more or less well done.
Now that my kids are getting older, they are much more excited about their own birthdays, they have their own friends and preferences, and accordingly, their birthday celebrations are becoming much more about them.
My eldest son’s fifth birthday last year was the first time he had a kid party with his own guest list, and activities and food geared towards children. For the most part, the parents stuck around, and we had a lovely family-friendly party. The kids did a treasure hunt, played a game of pin the tail on the donkey, and made, decorated, and tested their own paper airplanes following an airplane-making demonstration by daddy (that was my son’s obsession then).
This year, my son turned six. Again, he came up with his own guest list and we invited about a dozen kids over for simple activities and food. Again, we invited the families to stay or drop-off—but this year, the families mostly dropped off and it felt much more like a true kid party. (It was heart meltingly adorable and I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it as much as they did.)
From the previous year, I knew that two games plus a craft worked pretty well, so we did that again. First, we played a game of pass the present to Fred Penner’s Sandwiches. If you don’t know this game, you wrap a small gift several times. The kids sit in a circle and pass the present until the music stops. Whoever is holding the gift when the music stops opens the next layer, and so on. I made sure there were enough layers for each kid to open at least one. The gift at the end was a stack of patterned pencils and stickers for all. It’s so simple but kids love it—the excitement of the music stopping, the fun of unwrapping a layer, and the surprise of the gift.
Next, we did a treasure hunt. The kids followed the clues around the house until they got to the treasure at the end, which was a bowl of Yum Earth lollipops. Here are the clues we did:
After dinner and before bed, here I clean my toes to my head (bath)
Set the temperature very high, here is where I cook a pie (oven)
When my socks start to smell, here I clean them super well (washing machine)
In the morning if I’m lucky, sometimes there’s a special delivery (mailbox)
After we get the groceries home, we put them here to keep them cold (fridge)
It was so cute watching the kids stampede around the house together and getting super excited to find and read the next clue!
Finally, we did our craft: edible necklaces made with Nature’s Path Cheetah Chomps (like berry-flavoured cheerios), Veggie Straws, and pretzel thins. We used ribbon, which worked quite well—although to be honest, I mostly chose this because it’s what I happened to have on hand, haha. A tip if you try this: it’s much easier to thread the ribbon if you snip it on an angle, like so:
Ribbon turned out to be a perfect for little fingers because it was stiff enough to hold its shape while the kids poked it through the holes. Also, because ribbon is a little thicker than string, the edible “beads” stay on it well without sliding around or sliding off.
Happy birthday to my bright, loving, thoughtful, curious, determined, joyful six-year-old. I’m so lucky to be your mom.