Saturday Open Thread: Your Awesomest Parties

March 10, 2007 @ 8:09 pm | Filed under: Uncategorized

My girls had a blast at a fabulous birthday party this afternoon, a backyard Hawaiian luau thrown by a mom I admire enormously, and not just for her awesome party planning skills. Me, I’m not so great with the parties. I did throw Jane a pretty cool Little House-themed party for her sixth birthday—with vanity cakes and a reenactment of the "old crab" scene from Plum Creek, with itty bitty Rose as the cutest little crabby grabby crawdad you ever did see—but that’s about it. I don’t even want to talk about the Greek myth party that Jane planned for months, the one that never happened because we couldn’t get the Perseus family and the Hera family together on the same day.

Nope, event planning is not so much my specialty.

I am therefore all the more in awe of mums with a talent for making a child’s birthday festive and special—without excessive glitz or expense. I’m betting a lot of you out there have the gift. Lay it on me: what are the best parties you’ve thrown for your kids?

(And Erica? That pork was to die for.)

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12 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Anonymous says:

    I admit it, most of my kids’ parties are the expensive kind that you have at some other place (bowling alley, pottery painting place, nature center). Once my kids started wanting to invite more than 8 kids, our home wasn’t big enough. But I have thrown a couple of good home parties for my older daughter — an outer space-themed one (with a refrigerator box decorated to be a rocket) and a detective one (with clues that required much running from floor to floor and a cake with little footprints on it). I have led Valentine’s Day and Halloween parties at school. Having a cake walk is fun for the kids, bingo is always popular, and so is playing “match the riddle question to the answer.” I think it’s too bad that we don’t often do interesting things like that for adults.

  2. Angela, Mother Crone says:

    I am one of those over-the-top party planners, since we do big parties every two-three years. Big successes were: The Medeival Party, complete with costumed princesses and knights, jousting, a performance of a child enacted play (with Pop-Pop playing the dragon)and the food medieval fair and an Olympics themed party-complete with medals and events, and lighting a torch. The Back to the 60s was a huge hit, with making tie-dye shirts, sand art, and games with hula hoops, twister, and frisbees. The pirate party with its treasure hunt and play were so good that I was paid to do it for a friend’s son!
    The big one on the horizon is Girlie’s 13th in Sept. We have chosen an “Amazing Race” theme, though the kids will be divided into teams of five. I will create stations to represent different countries, each with a related challenge or activity. I totally love it, and could easily picture a career doing it!

  3. Carol says:

    I’ve done a couple here – mostly for the oldest daughter when she was preschool aged. My favorite was probably the Clifford party where we made a doghouse out of a storage shelving unit covered with paper rolls. We played toss the bone into the doghouse, made dog collars to wear (wooden bead necklaces), and the cake was red velvet cake.

    We also did a teddy bear tea party where everyone brought a favorite stuffed animal. The table was covered with a pink cloth and tons of pink carnations stuffed into tea pots and everything else I could think of. “Tea” was pink lemonade.

    I’ve always loved parties and can’t wait to hear what everyone else’s ideas are, too!

  4. matilda says:

    Once we got past doing the obligatory “first birthday” parties for new grandparents who wanted to record every little detail (thank goodness that wears off) we started having family parties. One of the hallmarks of our family parties is that Husband and I stay up the night before and make decorations based on whatever “theme” the birthday child comes up with. Sometimes we incorporate premade decorations but usually we make our own. Husband made and amazing spiderweb out of black yarn for a Spiderman theme and we created an underwater feel in the dining area for a Nemo party. My favorite was the construction paper palm tree for our daughter’s Hawaiian party.

  5. Ellen Marie says:

    A couple years ago we had a tie-dye party for my little sister. We bought cheap white tee-shirts and good dye in bulk and the kids made tee-shirts in between squirting each other with water guns, playing on the beach, and eating cake. It was such a hit that we have repeated the idea multiple times. Once we did tee-shirts again, and another time we made towels.

  6. Anonymous says:

    My daughter had a garden party for her fourth. Obviously it was an outdoor event. Each child got received a small pot, filled it with soil and planted basil seeds. In addition to candy & little toys, the flower shaped pinata was filled with garden themed sticker sheets, seed packets and rose petals (you can buy a bag from the florist/grocery store floral section). We had a bubble machine running in the garden. Each child received a party gift of a little child size trowel or shovel ($1 each at Target). It was a lot of fun, inexpensive, and easy!

  7. J says:

    In light of all the hype at, I like the Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) method of a low key, intimate parties with interactive food (like pita crust pizzas assembled by guests, chocolate frosting fondue, critters on a log or Brazilian hot dogs) in locations that don’t require 9 hours of cleaning or prep work before and after the party (like the park or the beach).

    I also like the idea of donating money you would have otherwise spent on various party extras to a great kid friendly charity like Heifer. This way you can constructively cut back on any intended or unintended competition from other birthday parties.

  8. Erica says:

    Ahh, thanks, Lissa!! My one talent, I tell you! Because of fairly large family parties with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, we long ago decided that our kids would have one friend birthday party. We picked 10 as the age which has been nice as the kids are old enough to help and give ideas and young enough to be very excited about it all. That is the reason this party was so extravagant!

    I think the highlights of the luau were the relay race, limbo (of course!), and the ‘What is your Hawaiian name’ activity. I found a website that helps you translate your name using the twelve letters of the Hawaiin alphabet. The relay consisted of carrying a coconut between your knees, carrying a pineapple on your head, putting on a lei, carrying a macadamia nut on a spoon, and eating a banana. My favorite part was the vintage Hawaiian music we played throughout the party!

    Oh, the pork….search for ‘Kalua Pig’…it was soooo easy, but soooo good!

  9. Gwen says:

    I will never be able to top this: For one of my son’s (8th?) birthdays we had a firefighter bash. I do not even remember where we got this huge box but my husband and I painted it to look like a house and cut windows in it and the kids had to shoot balloons out through the windows with the hose. I don’t remember the other games or food. At that time my oldest son had a friend with a real fire truck and we hired him to come blaring down the street with a siren and stop in front of our house. All the kids ran to the front of the house (our son didn’t know this was for his party). They all got to wear a fire hat and coat and rode around the block. We had a Polaroid and took a photo of each one; then we made frames when they were done. Doing theme parties is something I enjoy a lot. The kids only get one every few years (around ages 7, 11, 13 or 14 and 16). We’ve also had a Pirate party, Movie theatre party and Tea parties.
    Erica your party sounded great!

  10. Melanie says:

    We have had some pretty fun parties, and they aren’t expensive. We can’t afford it! 🙂 My daughter’s last one was a tie-dye party. We invited her friends over to tie dye in the backyard. It wasn’t as messy as you’d think. You can buy kits with everything you need, and I kept everything outside. We had tie dyed cupcakes and the girls spent the night and rinsed out their creations (we did pillowcases) the next morning. Then I washed them and threw them in the drier in time for them all to go home. Their pillowcase is their party favor.

    My personal favorite was an arts and crafts party for my craft-loving daughter’s 5th birthday. I had a bedsheet with paint pens for all the guests to help decorate as they arrived. They did a couple of crafts to take home and I just made plain white cupcakes with gels and paintbrushes so that they could “paint” their own cakes. I made baggies of glitter pens and markers and other crafty stuff for favor bags. 🙂

    Ok, one more. For her 4th birthday we had a princess party. The girls came in dress up clothes, dug for “gems” in the sandtable, made crowns with silver posterboard that they glued their gems onto, played pin the kiss on the frog, and had a castle cake. I am no gourmet, and I tell you that castle cake was the saddest looking thing you ever did see, but the kids loved it. Baggies of play jewelry and lipgloss went home for favors.

  11. Mary Beth P says:

    I did a Dino party (what else?) when Richard turned 5- I even made “fossils” and buried them in the sand box. We used balloons as “eggs” which had little dinos stuffed inside. When the kids popped them, they “hatched”.The most impressive part was that I was 6 month pregnant at the time!

  12. Ria says:

    For my 9th birthday and my brothers 7th we had a joint ‘Lord of the Rings’ themed party. We played a life size “boardgame” with a huge cardboard die, each taking our turn and moving around the yard to different scenes from the story(such as a picnic table covered in a tablecloth for Moria). We also did three-legged races, wheelbarrow races (in honour of Sam Gamgee) and a relay race, ‘Elves’ vs. ‘Men’ with dress up items to be passed between teams. Treat bags included Ring Pops of course (: And we topped off the day with a very cool Minas Tirith cake, made from many different shaped pieces of cake stuck together with frosting in the shape of the city, created by my dad.