27 September 2011

Red Balloon Party

When our babes turn three we give them more options for how they want to celebrate their birthdays. They choose a party or experience {ie. family trip or tickets}. Buby turned six on September 13th and asked for a Red Balloon party for him and his besties. Then he wanted a Pirate party. Then Red Balloon. Then Pirate. No, definitely Red Balloon.

The 1956 French film by Albert Lamorisse is one of Bub's faves. I bought it here. It's the sweet story of a little Parisian boy who happens upon a huge red balloon and quickly discovers it has a mind of its own. There is almost no dialogue, and the whole film is just 34 minutes. I'd
love to snag a copy of the original hardcover for our collection.

This summer while in Lake George, Buby escaped to a craft counter and penned his birthday party guest list on construction paper. He was absolute on which friends should come. A few weeks later I stopped at Michael's for plain white scalloped note cards {six with envelopes for just $1}, bright red buttons and an Eiffel Tower stamper. I already had a "You're Invited" stamper that I've used many times.

For location Buby and I decided on a grassy riverfront area within our village park. Next best thing to the river Seine? It's near and dear to our boy, as we've walked there several times a week since he was born. Off the beaten path and free of playground equipment. Where Buby learned to skip rocks. Convenient in the way of a pavilion, a bathroom and long tables. Surrounded by birds and hiking trails. Ripe for a young person's imagination.

But, as fate would have it, shortly after invites were mailed
Irene hit the East Coast. She had her way with our little river town. The area of the park that we love most was flooded and infested with wicked mosquitoes and no longer very festive. Two days before the party I spread word that we were moving it to our home.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and we felt lucky to be outside most of the day.
I kept the party details as SIMPLE as possible. Two hours before the party My Sweets had lawn and balloon duty while my mother-in-law entertained our wee ones so I could set up the patio. In all there were 10 children, 15 parents, 3 baby brothers and 1 guest dog!

Decorations for a balloon are a cinch. I bought a bag of ten 36-inch round red balloons from this wholesale balloon manufacturer that caters to auto dealers, a roll of white twine from a dollar store, a 75-count bag of 12-inch red balloons plus six large tissue-paper balloons from Party City, red polka dot ribbon from Michael's, and ten round place mats from Target. Et voila!

A note on helium: Unfortunately the large tank I purchased at Party City was a dud. It was supposed to fill 50 12-inch balloons but only filled three out of our ten 36-inch balloons before it died. My account was credited back the next day, and the children were impressed with three just the same. The rest of the balloons were not helium.

A note on place mats: I discovered a week too late that Christmas Tree Shops sells the same round place mats in a bazillion solid colors for half the price. It's an inexpensive way to set the color scheme. I'm tempted to stock up on these.

As for favors,
I usually prefer ones that guests can play with or make during the party and then bring home. I'm not a fan of bulk-style tchotchkes bags. Those bitty plastic trinkets are chokeable for younger sibs and are usually thrown away within a day. I had a stack of red-balloon paper bags, red punch balloons, bottles of bubbles, and whatever crafts.

I did buy a circle cookie cutter and cookie sticks with the intention of giving each child a plain balloon cookie to take home. {Plain because the ready-made icings are full of dyes.} My Sweets baked a batch late the night before, but they just didn't come out. I tried again the next morning, and they crumbled once the stick came into play. C'est la vie. Who needs cookies anyway? I still can't believe My Sweets offered to bake from scratch after a long day at work. MAN!... I love that man.

I've never been one for organized party games {too forced}, but I do love an open crafts table. We had one of those. Buby's our bookworm, so the project de jour was decorating bookmarks with basic items such as a balloon hole punch, red buttons, a balloon stamper, red ink, red string, and thin satin ribbon. I placed a few examples on the table for inspiration and just let the kids do their thing. Nobody was manning the table {that takes the creativity out of it, no?}, but by the end of the party everyone had made something.

Red pipe cleaners were also out for shaping into balloons. Did you know that Buby is obsessed with pipe cleaners? I've always got pipe cleaners, and he's always got ideas!

Since the goal was an easy breezy play date in the park, My Sweets and I didn't fuss with elaborate menus this year. I put out a few healthy-ish snacks, filled our outdoor fridge with cold beverages, made a pot of Folgers 1/2 Caff., and pretty much ordered the rest.

Our local market prepared fruit and veggie platters for us the morning of.
I made a spinach and grape-tomato salad with toasted pine nuts, slipped three mini garlic loaves in the oven, and ordered three large pizzas to arrive shortly after the guests. Black olive, loaded veggie, plain cheese. Who knew entertaining without cooking could be so fun?

I asked friends to suggest a local baker for the cake, and they all came back with the same name. The owner agreed to make ours fresh at 6 a.m. the morning of. It was the most delish non-whipped cream cake I've ever had. {Back when I placed the order our party was still at a park with no refrigeration.} The cake was a tall 12" yellow round with chocolate-raspberry filling and a creamy marshmallowy frosting. It was sweet but not overly so.

Two of my three guys look SO much alike, don't they? I'll have to take a side-by-side shot to prove my point. My Sweets has black hair and blue eyes while Ollie has toasted goldy locks and milk chocolate eyes. But WOW they remind me of each other all day long.

As for the whiskey and rum, not sure when those spirits appeared on the scene, but there was a little after-party tasting for some of the adults. We're all friends :=)

I just had to get these all-natural milk chocolate balls. I love chocolate, and they look like red balloons to me. Buby snuck four of them -- the most chocolate he's ever had.

I wish I had more snaps of the birthday boy and other PEOPLE at the party, but I was busy chatting and babywearing once guests arrived. Plus, I still feel awkward photographing friends, even though I always wish I had more people shots in our albums.


Grandma DJ said...

It was very festive and fun .. Thanks for time with kids .. Love you forever

Lindsay Stewart said...

I am going to be doing a "little red balloon" party for my daughters 2nd birthday party this summer - thanks for sharing your party - I am taking great inspiration from your party here! Love your blog! So cute!

udayhomeful said...

I stumbled upon your scrapbook page when goggling "red balloon party ideas" and loved your blog.
I also cam across urbandictionary.com site which states meaning of red balloon party as below:
Red Balloon Party
Meaning that one is not pregnant; throwing a metaphorical party in celebration of getting your period instead of a baby.
Guy 1: So how did things go with Jessica? Is she pregnant?
Guy 2: Nah man, it's all good. We're throwing a red balloon party this month.