Sunday, October 25, 2009

Peter Pan Party

"Sarahlynn has really outdone herself this year. What is she going to do to top this next year?" my sister asked my mother after Ellie's 6th birthday party this weekend.

I don't plan to try to top myself next year. After all, I didn't plan to do much this year. Just a simple party, inexpensive, few activities, mostly free play, maybe cupcakes.

Here's how it went down.

Ellie's been into the movie Peter Pan lately, so that became our theme. I typed the invitations and printed them on card stock along with a few images (Tinkerbell, a crocodile, Peter and the Darlings flying over London, a map of Neverland). Then I burned the pages into fun shapes and crisped the invitations in the oven. We hand delivered them. Cost: free! So far, so good.

As Ellie's 8 guests arrived (6 because she's turning 6 plus a couple siblings, ages 1-8, girls and boys, some with Down syndrome and some without) they ran around the house and got acquainted with one another.

The weather was lovely, a perfectly crisp, blue autumn day. So for our first activity we went outside and had a "Fairy Flower Treasure Hunt" in the front yard. I showed each child a silk flower, they ran off to find one like it, then brought it back for the next "clue" and so forth. I bound each child's bouquet with floral tape and attached a nametag. Presto: party favors!

Then all the kids sneaked to the backyard to play on the wooden swings/rockwall/slide playset. Eventually a few children started looking around for something else to do, but no worries! I had a few more tricks up my sleeve.

Paul was in charge of decorating and he did a great job with the house. There was a "Welcome to Neverland!" banner beside the front door and a large hand-drawn map of Neverland Island in the foyer. The family room was "Indian Camp," the dining room was "Tinker's Nook," and the basement playroom was Pirate's Cove/Mermaid Lagoon.

The children filed into the living room, where I sprinkled imaginary pixie dust on their heads and asked them to hold out their arms. "You Can Fly!" played on the computer as the guests swooped around the room, stopping on small maps of Neverland when the music stopped. Each round, one child found him or herself without a map upon which to stand and was "out." They didn't mind, though! Because I sent them straight downstairs to Walk the Plank.

Paul was waiting in the basement with the next activity. Kids bounced on the mini trampoline, walked down a low balance beam, then jumped off onto a blue blanket (the lagoon) where Paul waited for them with fairy glitter and temporary tattoos (fairies or pirates).

After getting their ink, guests came back upstairs to me, where I waited by the tee pee in the family room with a hot glue gun, more colored card stock, and some feathers. "What's your favorite animal? What's your favorite activity?" Each child discovered his or her Indian name and got a fancy nametag. (I particularly enjoyed "Singing Chicken.")

Soon, it was time for cake. My parents were here to help this weekend (bless them!) and my mom thoughtfully baked the cakes so all I had to do on Saturday afternoon was decorate them. We had a strawberry Neverland Island iced green (two small inverted pyrex bowl shapes with cupcakes embracing a blue lagoon) and a chocolate pirate ship.

My second best moment of the day came when one guest's mother said, "Look, the cake is just like a pirate ship!" and her daughter replied, "No, Mom, it IS a pirate ship!"

My first favorite moment of the day was seeing how happy and excited Ellie was the whole time. She doesn't open gifts and is easily overwhelmed by too much stimulation. She didn't want to play the games, though she loves to watch. And she looked forward to the party with such excitement and had SO MUCH FUN having her friends over, playing outside, and walking the plank to jump into the lagoon. Most especially, she loved the whole cake/candles/ice cream/singing part of the party.

How can I top this next year? By showing up. Ellie is a child who is impossible to spoil. She is so generous with her smiles and hugs and praise. She appreciated every aspect of the party, but she would have been thrilled to have just family and a a simple cupcake, too. Her attitude takes the pressure off, though I can never resist trying to design an afternoon that's so perfect for her she didn't even know to wish for it. I'm sure I'll try again next year. (I'm thinking: The Little Mermaid at the swimming pool.)

I'll post the pictures for my Friday Photoblogging this week.


RobMonroe said...

I've begun to find that the best parties/gatherings are the ones that are half planned and just come together. Abby has taught me a lot already!

Glad that everyone had a great time!!

Kathy G said...

This sounds like a good old-fashioned party, where the kids were free to use their imaginations.

Jessica said...

I was blown away by what you did - seriously.

In fact, we celebrated Dylan's birthday hours later...remind me to tell you how that went tomorrow evening. We were cracking up at the contrast all night!

Sarahlynn said...

I want to clarify that I didn't really do anything much. The kids made the party by themselves! And all of my creativity is borrowed from the Internet.

Kathy, it was a good old-fashioned party . . . but I'll never live up to my own mother! With no budget whatsoever she was still be the coolest mom in town, throwing the best parties.

Thanks, Jessica. I look forward to hearing about Dylan's birthday! Thank you both so much for coming over. Sorry I was so frazzled . . . and put you to work! After you left and everything was in place, as the guests started to arrive, I poured myself a glass of wine and relaxed. :)

ccw said...

Sounds like a wonderful birthday party! Glad Ellie had so much fun.

This will be the first year we have had to do a "big" party since Teen L gave them up in 5th grade in favor of smaller sleepovers. I have no idea what we are going to do and who we will invite. Right now it stands at all the girls in the class plus the GS troop. We used to do big for Teen L but now I can't seem to remember how we pulled it off.