Birthday parties for children are always bring a smile to my face. Watching your child and their friends race with glee from game to game is thrilling – and exhausting – all at once!
I remember our oldest son’s first birthday. As first time parents, Tim and I were thrilled at the milestone of successfully keeping our child alive, despite our lack of parenting knowledge! We celebrated with family and friends by having a Dinosaur-themed party complete with a homemade Dinosaur Dip Bowl in the center of the table. By homemade, I mean edible – it was Tim’s creation. I’d seen the dip holder on the internet. It looked easy enough, and consisted of all sorts of squash and zucchini’s cut and chiseled into the shape of a menacing looking Brontosaurus.
Putting that dinosaur dip holder together rivaled putting a child’s toy together the night before Christmas and realizing the directions were in Japanese. Martha Stewart had made it look so easy. But several toothpicks, zucchini’s and vegetable slicers later, Tim presented a lovely looking dinosaur that would soon be serving dip and chips to several guests.
While Tim worked laboriously on the Dinosaur, I was busy creating a homemade Dinosaur birthday cake. Do you know how many frosting stars need to be squeezed onto a 1 layer cake the shape of a Tyrannosaurus s Rex? Me either, but enough to make me appreciate every one of them as my hand cramped several times before completing the masterpiece. And a masterpiece it was, in dazzling Pink, white and blue colored frostings.
Little did we know the success of our birthday party extravaganzas would set us up from that point forward. Each year our boys looked forward to what their birthday parties would be like. Each child got to pick their theme and looked to Mom to come up with fun and amusing games. And each year, because tradition had been started, a homemade birthday cake with countless individual frosting stars was created, despite the hand cramps of the baker extraordinaire. Seeing the joy and delight on the kids faces made it all worthwhile. It warms my heart every time I think of it.
The older the kids got, the harder it was to come up with 2 hours of fun for them! The most challenging one was creating a scavenger hunt with clues that took the kids all over the neighborhood, searching for items, figuring out cryptic messages and finding buried treasure at the end. Talk about organization! One year the boys ran obstacle courses and played Capture the Flag with flashlights. It was the grace of God that no one tripped over a rock or got injured running around the property in the pitch black of night.
Swimming pools, Piñatas and water balloons were always a favorite. I’ll never forget (and neither will my swollen thumb) filling up and tying more than 150 balloons for each party, only to have them disappear in 7 minutes flat! But the smiles on their faces and memories they shared years later about how fun their parties were made it all worth the effort.
Every year I’d ask the boys if they wanted to have their party at a place where someone else did the arrangements and we just got to show up. And every year they’d look at me as if I had two heads. “Why would we want to do that, Mom? Our friends want to come to our house cause the parties are always the BEST”. It is fulfilling knowing that the old “classic” games are still fun . Pin the tail on the donkey (or dinosaur), carrying a potato on a spoon around two orange cones without dropping it, 3-legged races and passing a balloon between people without using your hands are sure to bring laughter no matter what age you are. And the best part is, it doesn’t cost a lot of money to create a memorable birthday. Just a few sore muscles and a dirty dish or two.
One year instead of having a party in the afternoon, we had a Birthday Breakfast, complete with Pancakes, bacon, cinnamon rolls and strawberries. Talk about a hit! I guess it’s true, everything tastes better with bacon. But don’t forget the cake. And enjoy the laughter along the way. Happy Birthday!!