Niamh is 3
Niamh is 3 and had the party to prove it! Her real birthday on Thursday was celebrated in school with ice-cream sandwiches and at home with cupcakes. I had to leave extra early for work but I heard her rustling around in her room so I went in to say good morning and she wanted me to sing her happy birthday. It is so cool that she ‘gets it’ this year. The party on Saturday was the first with-friends party. I had many ideas for this party come and go but I think the end result proved out fun for all. The chapter on birthday party in “your 3 year old” book was eye opening and reformed a lot of my ideas. In case you are planning a birthday for a three year old here were the hits;
Timing – 3-5pm, after nap, after lunch, end before dinner. Basically the ‘best’ time for most kids I know – I got this tidbit of knowledge from a 1950’s article about parties – the reprint in good housekeeping was like 7 years ago and I read it in a dr’s office or something but it stuck with me.
Goodie bag on arrival with NO candy. Our bag was a med size gift bag with handles, it had a few cool ducks, a little stuffed animal, and a bunch of self-inking stamps. The stamps were the major hit. I was worried about kids not liking the animal/duck they got but that did not turn out to be a problem. They didn’t actually even play with the little toys but that was not a big deal.
First half of the party was play time. I set up a folding table at the shortest height and covered it in paper and collected all the kid sized chairs I had. I added a bucket of crayons, a dish of sliced apples, and a bowel of cheddar popcorn. This was loved by all! For kid sized chairs, I actually only had 3 real chairs and 6 kids – I transformed two older task chairs into kid stools by removing the back and sinking it down to the lowest setting. I think I’m going to keep them this way, they work really nicely as stools and the parents could sit on them too. I also gated off the downstairs and one room I didn’t want people in, the bathroom and Niamh’s room were open. I used the baby fence to block off the computers area too so the room was totally kid proof. I also set out the dress up stuff and another double sided easel with paper and chalk. I put the baby toys up high and put away all the toys with lots of bitsy parts but there were still lots of options and things to explore (plus other people’s toys are fun anyway). This free play time was great so people could arrive and mesh into the party. The Book specifically said no planned games and I think its right, getting that crew to play a game all together would have been hard.
Next we moved up for cake. The table was pre set for all the kids and The Book recommended a small toy at each spot. I put an orange at each spot and while it looked nice it was not great for the flow since none of the kids had orange opening skills. The other fruit and treats on the table looked nice but only the parents ate them (but parents count too) since the kids were all for cake and ice-cream. Getting food onto plates is always an adventure but it went well overall and all kids ate.
Post cake was presents in our upstairs where there was a new selection of our toys to play with for all the kids who didn’t want to pay attention to Niamh opening things. Niamh loved everything and we succeeded in not opening all the new things right away. After that the kids roamed upstairs and downstairs since they were all comfortable being somewhere new so some of the parents could sit and talk.
As everyone left we had a helium balloon (Book suggestion) tied to a little bag of candy for each kid. Leaving everyone looked happy with their goodie bag and balloon.
The only other activity I had was making balloon animals. My friend Hailey gave us this kit years ago and we actually opened it this winter so I learned how to make a few things. After a little practice balloon animals area really easy as long as you don’t require perfection. The 3y crowd is impressed with anything and they don’t care that their giraffe seems to have a huge tail… I also made balloon hats and that was fun too. At least 2 of the kids busied themselves with the extra balloon and pumps trying to make their own so having extras on hand is a good idea.
So, by 5:30 we were back to 4 people in the house and the cat came out of hiding. Clean up was not so bad and Niamh was over the moon with the gifts and the party. We also got to meet two new sets of parents so that was fun too. It was stressful getting the house not only clean but 3 y old proof plus setting up the various things all while toting a baby and wrangling my own 3 year old but the side benefit is that the house is still clean!
Notes for next time – I should have added more dress up stuff in bigger sizes… buffet stuff for parents on the island… pre scooped ice-cream