Each year we ask the children what they want to do for their birthdays. Sometimes they choose a party, sometimes a trip. If it's a party they decide on the theme, location and guest list themselves, and I do my best to pull it together the week (or in some cases -- night) before.
Our kiddos mostly ask for small parties with just a few close friends. We don't live near family, so there's no pressure to celebrate twice... or with everyone at once. It keeps things simple. If a birthday falls during the school week we decorate the kitchen and ornament tree before breakfast, bring a muffin or fruit snack to their class, and treat them to dinner anywhere they'd like. Back at the house we open gifts and slice cake. On the weekend they rock out with their besties.
So far we've had the following themes: Monkey Business, Steam Engines, Dino-Mite, Bitty Baby, Harness-Racing Museum, Butterflies, The Red Balloon, Strawberry Picnic, Pirates (here too), Pony Riding, and Pikachu. It seems like such a funny mix. Ollie turns three next month, and I'm curious what he'll choose. Maybe a Superhero adventure (?), given that his main objective in life is to to fly and save people. He delights us every day with his imagination.
Buby turned eight this month. Originally he thought about a Magician party but over the summer changed his mind to a Pokémon picnic with Pikachu as the mascot. He's been reading Pokémon books from the library for the last eight months. In June his buddy Jonas handed down the Official Handbook, and it sort of sealed the deal for Buby. Since then he's read every book our librarians could track down for him. Did you know there's an entire industry behind these pocket monsters?
A week before the picnic I walked around the house gathering up random things in yellow, red and white... loose paper, unused photo frames, place mats from parties past. Also, I have a supply closet stocked with servers, utensils, candles, mini bubbles, etc. I pulled out everything in the Pikachu color scheme, and a bucket of dirty golf balls too.
There were a few holes to fill in the materials department, but I knew just where to go. Amazon has figurines (good for dessert toppers), tattoos, trading cards, how-to-draw books (for party activities), and plain yellow shirts. Michael's has fabric paint, punch balloons (in the $1 bin), sticky letters, ribbon, and basic favor bags. Party City has individual popcorn boxes, circular labels, and licensed Pokémon stickers and pencils. I didn't like the rest of the character stuff.
I threw everything in a corner until the night before the party. My Sweets went to the market for all the fruits, veggies and cheeses I requested and then made dinner for the kiddos while I painted t-shirts, assembled bags, and labeled the drinking glasses. I didn't do everything I wanted, but I did just enough crafting to make it festive. Buby was happy. Party pictures coming next!