Six years of birthday parties, and you know I love me a good collage of comparisons! Observe.
A week ago, we had Truman's sixth birthday party. And it was the first time we rented a place, hosting it somewhere other than our own home. And it was glorious;)
I love having our friends and their children to our house for parties, don't get me wrong, and we will surely do a big BBQ with everyone for Cecelia and Porter's parties this year. But those will happen when there isn't snow on the ground, and I suppose Truman is at the age when the party needs to be more for him than his parents.
And so? We rented out a small indoor soccer field that has two small rooms attached. Definitely not fancy but absolutely what Truman wanted---a place to run around, play soccer, eat some food, and open gifts. Done!
I tried my hardest to keep this 'low key' but it turns out that even planning a party that is not in our home can be rather involved. First comes the classic question of: How many kids will we invite? Where do we draw the line? Entire class at school? Just neighborhood friends? WHY IS THIS SO TOUGH?
We ended up inviting ten kids and eight were able to attend, plus we had a few of the 'second borns' come to party along with the 5-6 year olds. I made it open to parents to either stay and hang out (i.e. help with crowd control) or drop-and-go, and I assumed most parents would take us up on the opportunity to leave their children at the party while they ran errands. But actually, most every kid had a parent there to observe the chaos which was great! It just meant I felt 'pressure' to have more adult-friendly food choices other than pizza and birthday cake. But we didn't actually make anything special for sides like I had considered. We stuck to ordering pizzas and breadsticks, ordering a cake from the grocery store (delicious!), then we brought bags of Sun Chips, sliced apples from Costco, and grapes. Bottled water and juice boxes topped off the very hefty list of items we so lovingly prepared for our guests.
Oh, but I DID end up making my royal icing cookies. Let me tell you about this story: I made the cut out sugar cookies for Christmas but ended up freezing all six dozen of them when I just couldn't get my stuff together to ice the cookies after a rough holiday season. I started brainstorming ideas about how I could utilize my snowmen, Santa, Christmas tree, candy cane, and gingerbread cookies for Truman's party and I was really struggling with how to make them less festive. I decided to ditch the candy canes and gingerbread men because they were just too much to disguise. But the others ended up being fairly birthday-ish with the bright colors and kids' names on them. I went for the 'abstract' look and tried not to get too bent out of shape about whether or not the cookies looked like defrosted Christmas. Bottom line: six year olds do NOT care if their name is written on a snowmen. They will eat that sugary goodness in record time, without discrimination. And what do you know? I still really enjoy the decorating process!
We rented the soccer field for two hours, and I drove up there with Truman to meet Lois and Tony about an hour before our guests were to arrive. Nate, Cecelia, Porter and then my mom and Memaw (who flew in for a short visit based around the party!) all drove up right before the party began. So the 'early' crew had planned to clean the building really well, then set up the tables for food and what not. But the building was quite clean before we arrived, so we could get right to decorating and setting up the food that I brought along with us.
I purchased our first piñata from Party City, and bought the candy to fill it there. Truman has always asked for a piñata and we had to make it happen this time around, so Tony was in charge of figuring out how in the heck to hang the thing from the extremely high ceilings. I bought paper soccer balls for decorating and just taped them to the wall, brought my trusty felt 'Happy Birthday' banner from Target (used many times already), and bought helium balloons since those are a MUST for every party these days. That was it for decor, aren't you proud of me?
I also had gift bags for each kid, composed of random 'junk' from the dollar store like slinkies tattoos, arm sweat bands (total hit), stickers, stamps, and then the personalized royal iced cookies. Truman wrote the names for each guest on the bags and was a total help with this part, probably because a goodie bag-o-junk is for sure a highlight for all six year olds.
The cake was a delicious marble variety from our favorite grocery store, and all I told her was 'soccer theme, go for it.' It turned out really cute and was delicious, I'm glad I didn't try to make a cake or cupcakes this year. Outsourcing is really the best.
After we set everything out and decorated, we got a family picture and guests started to arrive at 11am. We had the place for two hours and I planned to let the kids run off their pent up winter energy for an hour by 'playing soccer', but I totally underestimated Nate's abilities to organize actual activities with the eleven kids that showed up to party. They scrimmaged, they did drills, they were laughing and having the best time. I had the pizza delivered at noon and the kids were happy to sit on the floor to devour their pizza (and some fruit with chips). Then Truman wanted to do presents, so we negotiated that we would sing to him first, then cut the cake and serve it while he opened gifts. DONE. He received so many awesome/thoughtful gifts, even though he needs nothing. Saying 'no gifts necessary' on an invitation doesn't always mean people show up empty handed. So I will usually say something like, 'keep it super inexpensive and simple, Truman will be happy with total crap wrapped up in a gift bag.' Something like that, I think.
After we sang to the birthday boy, ate cake, and watched him open gifts, we decided it was piñata time. I was worried that my sorry-looking soccer ball would bust open after one hit. But alas, every child got about four swings at the thing before Nate took pity on the very patient children and ripped it open the rest of the way. I had ziplock bags ready for the acquired loot and there weren't too many tears about how so-and-so got more than me. In fact, Cecelia was the one who felt most slighted by her candy stash and two little girls went over to her and offered their extra candy to her. So sweet.
Once the piñata was successfully man handled, we had them play more soccer with the dads while the moms chatted for a bit. Then two adults came out to announce that three kids were crying, and when I looked at the clock it was 1:00 on the dot. Time to pack it up, people! Heightened emotions after such a high were expected, I supposed, and it was time to go. After a group 'hands in the center' chant, we sent our guests on their way with goodie bags and hugs.
Cleaning up was not a big deal at all and it was AMAZING to leave the facility and not deal with eighty billion toys strewn across our house after a birthday party. Once we returned home, I panicked when I realized that I didn't get any pictures of Mom and Memaw with the kids. So a forced photoshoot was a must and I'm glad we did it, since you really can't take too many 'four generations' shots, right?
Seeing Truman on cloud nine with his friend was well worth the (outsourced) effort for his birthday party. I know the other kids had fun, too, and the best part was when Nate and I left later that day for an overnight getaway in Madison. A beer festival, dinner out, and a night in a hotel? Don't mind if we do!
But seriously? This guy is six and he is the best. Time flies. Ugh, it really does!
Oh, and his actual birthday was Tuesday, which also happened to be pajama day at school. So basically Truman was in heaven! He got to wear a crown, we brought cookies for his class treat, and he opened two presents before school. Then once Nate was home, we had Tony and Lois come over and we ordered out for dinner (chicken tenders for the birthday boy, his fave). He opened gifts, blew out the candles on a homemade cake that CC and Porter helped me bake (ahem, box mix), and pretty much had an excellent birthday.
I managed to do the Pinterest-y thing with the number and sprinkles. Delicious!
Sklyander Superchargers, magna tiles, and clothes for his growing body were his main gifts this year. He's pretty easy to please, and was just so proud of himself for having a birthday. Announcing it to anyone within ear's shot on the playground: "Today is my birthday. I'm six.' What a guy, that Truman!