I have to set the stage first. I don't always like what birthday parties have become. When we were kids, we had the most amazing birthday parties. I struggle with so many things that are typical at birthday party trends. I bet you Rebecca will say the same things about birthday parties.
We are very conscious about the way we celebrate our kids' birthdays. There are several elements I like to stick to.
-I make their cards. I like to take the pictures and use Photoshop to create the invitations myself. I print them at Sam's Club like a picture. The years I haven't used pictures, I hand made the cards with paper.
-I always have a craft for the kids to make. It is a great opening thing to have the kids gather to make some kind of craft.
-I make the decorations myself. I use a projector to put up an image that I trace onto poster paper. I keep them in a large portfolio folder incase we ever want to use them again.
-I like to make a game that incorporates their face. Pin the X on my kid aka Super Man.
-I don't make the cake. I know this is a crazy thing to say. I spend weeks and weeks getting the party ready. The cake is something I can pick up easily and saves me time on the day of the party. Our cakes don't even match the theme. We take our kids with us to pick out the cake. Since our 3 year old can't eat we don't do cake for his parties.
-We play games. I think often parties now don't include all the fun games we grew up with. I feel like parties are so much fun with games where the kids interact with each other.
-We make a big production about giving the gifts. I know my son gets disappointed when he can't give the birthday child the present he picked out for them. My kids put a lot of thought into what gift to give and they are excited to give it to the birthday child. We do *heavy heavy hang* and take a picture on the spot with the child, my child and the gift so I don't have to mess with a birthday list. I'm not sure where the saying came from. Both my Grandmother's said they always did a version of this too and my parents both did this...the gift giver stands to the side or behind the birthday child. The hold the present over the birthday child's head and says "Heavy, heavy hang over thy poor head, what do you wish this person with a *bump* on the head?" When you say bump, you lightly tap the birthday child's head with the gift. Before the present is handed over, the birthday child wishes the gift-giver something. It is usually something like "I wish you a million dollars." or "I wish you a pony." Then the birthday child opens the gift. It makes the gift-giver feel special because they spent some time with the birthday child and the birthday child has to think of something for the gift-giver.
-I make the party favors. I hope that I am making something that will be used and used as opposed to a junky toy that breaks before they even leave my house.
I like our parties to be as hands on as possible.
This is just our formula and it works well for us. Most of all we want it to be a full on celebration of our the amazing lives we brought into this world.
Here is a small collection of the last two parties for my oldest son. We do lots of other things, but these are a good idea of what they are like.
Last year my son wanted a Super Hero party.
Our invites: (one was on the front and the other was on the inside)
Personalized Pin the emblem on the Super Hero game:
This year the party was a LEGO Indiana Jones party. The personalized invite:
Handmade decoration…I made this pennant decoration using an Indiana Jones calendar.
For the craft, each child got to make shrinky dink key chains. I had printed up Indiana Jones and cupcake images that they could trace if they wanted to. They also had the choice to make whatever they wanted. This was a huge hit.
One of the outdoor games was a *poison dart* game. I had drawn a Lego Indiana bad guy image on a big box. They each took turns blowing a q-tip dipped in paint from a straw to try to hit the target. (Even the dads had fun with this game.)
For the goodie bag/take home thing, I made each kid a Fedora hat and a rope. (Again 20 of each. We have a big family and a handful of friends.)
It took me a few mock-ups to get the Fedora hats just right. I had a blast making the pattern.