When I send out invitations for a party, I typically plan to have about half of those invited actually attend.
For Kaelin’s party, I sent out 27 invitations. So I planned for a party of about 14 kids. A few days before the party, I had received 20 RSVPs and was scrambling to get more supplies. I even placed an emergency order with Oriental Trading because it became apparent that we would not have enough of the craft supplies I had previously ordered (craft supplies, I might add, that apparently aren’t sold in stores). The day before the party, they called me to say that (despite their initial guarantees that I would have it on time) there had been a shipping delay and I wouldn’t receive my box until the following week.
Lesson learned: Over-order the first time and return the extra supplies when you’re not in a time crunch.
The kids had a great time playing in Rapunzel’s tower. I had braided 3 skeins of yellow yarn, which I initially planned to use in some clever decorative way. It ended up just being a prop in the play house and, eventually, a tug-of-war rope.
The craft projects were well-received, and our shortage of supplies didn’t seem to cause too many problems. I had lanterns for the boys to decorate with glittery watercolor paint, and foam crowns for the girls to decorate with stickers and jewels.
Of course, some girls decorated lanterns and some boys decorated crowns, but really there were only a few that didn’t get to decorate what they wanted. I really wish I had been able to get more lanterns – if I had it to do over, I think I would have skipped the crowns altogether and gotten lanterns for everyone.
Needless to say, with 20 kids and about 15 parents, our house was a little crowded and a lot crazy during these two hours. But everyone seemed to have a really good time. The craft project entertained the kids for 30 minutes, which was the exact amount of time I had planned for this activity before the Magician arrived.
Unfortunately, he was running 15 minutes late.
Lesson learned: When using hired entertainment, come up with a backup plan.
Since our sunroom isn’t really meant to contain 35 people, the party spilled into the living room where the kids started entertaining themselves with the stack of toys in the corner. At this point, I got a little hypertensive, because TWENTY KIDS! IN MY HOUSE! WITH NO CONSTRUCTIVE, PREARRANGED ACTIVITY! WHAT DO I DO???
(I love kids… but there’s a reason I never became a kindergarten teacher)
Much to my amazement, the noise level miraculously went down after about 5 restless minutes. As I surveyed the kids to see what was about to get broken or explode, I found a group of kids laying on the floor, coloring (on paper). Another group was having a lively conversation. Others were still out in the sunroom working on craft projects or playing in Rapunzel’s tower. As long as I could keep them from going upstairs or back into our bedroom, they seemed very good at entertaining themselves without causing major chaos.
But all good things come to an end and eventually the kids got restless and the noise level began to rise past comfortable level.
Fortunately, that’s when my magician showed up.
Last year, I tried to provide all the entertainment for Kaelin’s party. I made up the games and ran around herding cats and ring leading a bunch of 4 and 5 year olds through various FUN! and EXCITING! activities, while Jens and the other parents watched from the sidelines.
It was pure torture.
This year, I hired Gregg the Balloon Guy.
He was amazing. He was the best part of our party, and I totally forgave him for being late. The kids were enraptured. I missed a lot of the magic show, but I could tell it was a success because the only commotion coming from upstairs was intermittent uproarious laughter.
Kaelin especially had a blast. As the Birthday Girl, she got to play a special part in his show.
Even the parents enjoyed the show, and several of them commented what a good performer Gregg is. While he was doing the balloon animals portion of his act, the adults were all downstairs trying to figure out how he does the magic tricks.
Kaelin has already told me she wants him to come back for her birthday next year.
While Gregg was entertaining the kids, I had the chance to clean up the craft and set the tables for cake.
Unfortunately, I really don’t have many pictures from this point on, because I was too busy leading the party poppers (which the kids loved), cutting and serving cake, and seeing people out the door.
Lesson learned: Have a second photographer.
Overall, I think the party was a big success. I enjoyed meeting a lot of the kids from Kaelin’s class (and their parents) for the first time – including a certain young man we’ve heard about before. He’s a cute kid and apparently the crush is mutual. His mom told me she had stopped putting gel in his hair, but one day he came home and told her she had to put gel in it again because Kaelin likes it that way. His birthday card contained a picture of himself, which now sits on her dresser.
The party ended right on schedule at 5:00pm, and we said our farewells to all the guests and handed out the party favors. Kaelin had quite a stack of tantalizing gifts left over.
We saved most of them for the following day, but she did get to open one while her good friend Madelyn was still here.
Then we had a nice quiet evening before retiring to bed.
No, that’s what normal people would do after a crazy birthday party. Naturally, WE immediately rushed out the door to watch the Rangers play World Series Game 3.
See, when the World Series is taking place at the ball park where you work, it’s kind of a big deal. So, exhausted as we were, we just couldn’t miss it. I did enjoy the opportunity to rest my aching feet and sit down for the first time in two days. Unfortunately, the Rangers got creamed that night, which was disappointing, but at least it allowed us to get home a little earlier.
By which point our Birthday Girl was most definitely done for the day.