Parenting

A "springtime" birthday party

Anna wanted to celebrate spring for her sixth birthday. From decor to treats and games, here's how Tracy did it

Anna's beautiful garden cake

Anna’s sixth birthday party is over, and all we’re left with is lots of leftover cake and happy hearts. I’m always looking for birthday ideas, so I thought I’d share some of the things we did.
 
I have a friend who is all about themes — she’s an event planner so it’s her way — and I’m always so impressed with the pizzazz of her parties. I definitely go simple and straightforward when it comes to ours. But I do love it when I can do simple and straightforward and pull it all together with a theme.
 
Last year it was a pajama party, which was super-easy and everyone loved coming in their PJs, kids and adults alike. We had pillowcase races and the loot bags were bowls with individual boxes of cereal and spoons.
 
This year, we did “spring” because the girls wanted to decorate with flowers. The theme was solidified when I asked Anna what she wanted on her cake (thinking she’d say a princess): “I want brown icing on the bottom, like a garden, and a girl watering beautiful flowers. There should be little blue drops coming out of her watering can. Maybe she could be watering six flowers because I’m turning six! And it should be a bright, sunshine-y day. That’s what I want.” OK then!
 
The woman who made her cake did an absolutely incredible job. When Anna looked at it she said, “It’s even more beautiful than I imagined!” And I agree. I couldn’t believe the work that went into it. Thank you so much, as always, to Amy at Bake Me a Cake.
 
We put flowers all over the walls and I tried to make a rainbow effect with balloons across our living room, which I just love (I might keep it!). As a treat, we used terra cotta pots and made them into little ice cream gardens for the kids. I got the idea from SavvyMom: Wash and dry the pots; put an Oreo on the bottom; fill with ice cream (we used cookie and cream flavour); top with crushed Oreo to look like dirt; add a gummy worm for true garden effect. We topped with these butterflies from the dollar store.


 
I got lazy in the game department. We had 12 kids aged two to 14, which makes games hard. However, I’ve learned that the kids who come to our parties really love something we started two years ago — a scavenger hunt to find their loot bags. We pair them up and give each team a set of clues and directions appropriate to their age, including things like slithering like a snake, counting a certain colour of balloons, jumping 10 times on the bed, suggesting they blow their nose/brush their teeth to find a clue, etc. until they find their way to their loot bags. My sister was over the night before and graciously made more challenging lists for the older kids, which included word scrambles and other brain-teasing clues.
 
The scavenger hunt is something we always leave until way too late the night before the party and I sit wearily and say, “maybe we shouldn’t do it this year.” But I’m glad we did. It really is fun to create the lists. I was surprised when my friend’s son (who is eight) came up to me as soon as he arrived and asked excitedly if we were doing the “clue thing” again. So I think it’s going to be a staple of our parties.


 
I always struggle with loot bags, but this year think I hit on a good idea. I bought some stainless steel water bottles — Hello Kitty for the girls, camo for the boys — on super sale from Old Navy. They were five dollars, then on sale for 15 percent off, then I had a coupon for 15 percent off my entire purchase. The day after Valentine’s Day I was at the dollar store and they had Valentine chocolates on sale, three packs for a dollar, so I slipped those in. And I found some stickers that I’d picked up somewhere and wrapped them up alongside the girls’ water bottles.
 
A fun time was had by all and Anna was thrilled with her party, which is what really counts. Her birthday isn’t until Thursday, so we’ll keep the decorations and the festive spirit up all week.
 
What are some of the favourite things you’ve done for your kids’ parties, or seen at other parties?