It’s very easy to get caught up in the Birthday games, where the winner is the mom who spends their money, time, blood, sweat and tears on the perfectly created theme where no detail is ignored. A beautiful party is a lovely idea, but on many occasions these kind of parties are not kid-friendly (or mom friendly for that matter). A slew of colorful decorations and elaborate tablescapes in a theme that very often the child couldn’t care less about can be overwhelming for children, as can large crowds. My feeling as a parent is that if it’s supposed to be a party for the child, shouldn’t it be about the child?
E at the moment likes Thomas the Train, Mickey Mouse (specifically Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, don’t judge) and Octopuses. Tablescape that one.
Being that we were clearly going to be piecing this one together (surprisingly enough there isn’t a large demand for Thomas with Mickey and some Octopus decor) while also keeping it kid-centered I had E help make the decorations. Displaying children’s art work is a wonderful way to validate their abilities and efforts, while also giving them a sense of ownership over the space. It becomes not just a well decorated room, but a special place they took part in creating. I came up with the odd idea of Mickey and Thomas (as Mylar balloons in this case) sailing the high seas, each in their own ship, along with some fish net on the opposite wall lined with fish, octopuses, Thomas decals, and a Mickey Mouse Happy Birthday Banner. E showcased her artistic talents in finger painting, marker swirling, and having her hands stenciled by painting the boats, coloring the tops of the waves, and having cutouts of her hands be the arms of the octopuses.
This was a multiple day process. For the boats, after she painted the paper brown I let it dry and then cut out the shape of the boats. The tops of the waves are coffee filters colored with blue and green markers that are then lightly spritzed (I used a garden hose nozzle on the mist setting) to make the colors bleed together like watercolors.
The Octopuses are a repeat, you can find the original post here.
For the tables we used cloth mermaid themed tablecloths (a repeat from her first birthday party, reuse and recycle) and had a light brunch menu with various salads and breads, including Goldfish for the kids and Mimosas for the mamas.
And of course, a cake!
We kept the party very intimate. My sister and her family, a few close family friends and their respective little ones. We asked guests that weren’t intent on bringing a gift to not feel obligated as she was going to get so many as it was. Like overwhelming crowds, tons of gifts can be too much for a little one, taking the fun out of birthday presents. And really, how many toys does one two year old need?
We were clearly not lacking in gifts, and with a manageable number we were able to let E open each one in her own time.
Her favorites: A Thomas The Train for toddlers, and anything to do with baby dolls. The various puzzles and Duplo blocks (including a block set that came in a John Deere Truck) were also at the top of her list.
I wasn’t completely sure I was making the right decision by having it be a small party with handmade decor, but by the time the party had begun I knew I had made the right decision. It was calm, fun for all, and E was excited on multiple occasions to point out her artwork. Proud mama I am. Best of all, E’s Dada was there to celebrate with us.
A family picture from the night before E’s party, at my extended family’s annual beach party. Yes, that’s my necklace she’s sporting, and no, she’s not donning a crop top!
Here’s to many more calm Happy Birthday Parties for E!