On June 6, six days before movers would descend on our flat to pack up our things and ship them to America, a small group of four-year old princesses came over to celebrate Hannah’s fourth birthday.
I know I know, I am tempted to make some comment about being glutton for punishment or something like that. But we were moving just a little over a week after Hannah turned four, she had been in school five days a week with these friends all year, and would not be finishing the school year with them due to the timing of our move. I wanted to give her a fun little party with her friends and the opportunity to make some special memories celebrating with them, so I did. Even though the timing was less than ideal, it was a perfect morning.
Birthday parties, particularly for younger kids, are always kind of funny because kids at this age are happy to do ANYTHING. I know that a lot of people feel pressure to put on a very beautiful, styled, themed, and activity-heavy party each year for their children, some blaming the pressures of magazines/Instagram/Pinterest, etc. But I just have never felt that way. I do like to spend time putting together some handmade details, but that is because I enjoy doing those sorts of things and feel a little like it is a part of my gift to the kids. For Jayce’s Lego Party last year I DIY’ed it like crazy, but he was really excited about all of the details, would talk to me about each thing in the days leading up to the party, and weighed in on much of it. For Hannah I knew I couldn’t do this, with my limited first trimester energy and need to be packing and sorting in my awake “free time,” so instead I planned out a few fun little activities for the girls and then just let them be. It was just right. 🙂
(On a side note, what I really think about kids parties is that whatever the parents and kids decide to do is fantastic. Party at home? Sounds fun! You’re a great mom! Rented out a place for the party? Excellent use of your resources and you don’t even have to clean up! You’re a great mom! No party this year? Kids don’t need big parties every year and they will still have an awesome day! You’re a great mom! )
Parenting is hard enough without birthday party pressure. Don’t give in. Also, you should read this scandalous article about a mom who decided not to do party bags one year.
When Hannah walked into the kitchen and saw the streamers she gasped and said, “Oh mom!! They’re sooooo beauuuutiful!!!”
Back to the party. I had a few little activities for the girls to do and planned in between to let them just run around and play in Hannah’s room as they were dying to do. I had bought little princess tiara/wand sets for them to decorate with glitter glue and jewel stickers, there was a piñata, we did a round of pass the parcel, they decorated cupcakes and then ate them, and had a little lunch. It was two hours from start to finish which seemed just about right for everyone’s attention span and my energy level.
I have to say that four years old is the perfect age to take on a little craft like this. I don’t know if it was helped by the fact that they are all in school together and used to having a little activity to complete, but I sat them around the table, handed out their kits and they quietly and patiently took on the tasks that were in front of them. While their masterpieces dried we moved to the living room for pass the parcel.
Pass the parcel is one of those gams that is played at every party, and I admit that I had to Google it when we first moved to London. The kids pass a large wrapped gift around a circle to music, and every time that the music stops, whomever is holding the gift unwraps a layer of wrapping paper and a little treasure falls out. It is obviously rigged, there is an adult making sure that the music stops on each kid at least once so that everyone gets something. But like most games that are intended to be “very fair” it fails, because in the end one kid gets the final prize and all of the other kids are disappointed that it wasn’t them. Sigh. But it is a party staple so we played a round. 🙂
I released the girls to go run upstairs and play for a bit and when we called them back downstairs three of them had changed into a few of Hannah’s princess dresses. 🙂
Next up was the princess castle piñata. No, I did not make it, but I very happily traded Amazon.co.uk ten pounds for it. 🙂 It was a fun little piñata because instead of the kids whacking the thing like crazy until an adult stepped in and took care of it, it had a bunch of long ribbons hanging from a “trap door” at the bottom. Each kid stepped up, chose a ribbon, gave it a firm yank, and the ribbon either popped off in their hand or opened up the trap door and released the candy.
It only took a few tries before the trap door was found.
Next up we shuffled back to the kitchen to decorate cupcakes. Since we were moving that next week I basically just emptied my cupboards of every option of sprinkles and mini marshmallows and let them go to town. The cupcake liners that we used also came with little princess cupcake toppers so they put those to good use as well.
There wasn’t a seat for Jayce but it didn’t bother him.
I made the cupcakes the day before the party, and since we only had one cupcake tray I dumped the rest of the batter into a loaf pan and figured that the adults could eat some of the mini cake while the kids had their cupcakes. HOWEVER, about 30 minutes before the party Hannah got all worked up about how she had wanted a chocolate cake for her party, which was news to me. I had the mini cake and some chocolate frosting, tossed a few sprinkles on it with a “4” candle, and the crisis was averted.
She was very serious about the candle-blowing-out.
Then the girls laughed hysterically about putting hula hoops on their fingers, finished their lunches (kind of), licked the icing from their cupcakes, grabbed their goodie bags, and headed outside to play with the bubbles that had been in each bag.
Four year olds and bubbles, you just can’t beat it.
At this point the parents were arriving/had arrived so I attempted a quick group shot. It didn’t really work out. I got a shot of the group but Hannah had already ran back inside. It took a surprising amount of effort to make sure that no one had run to their parents, get everyone standing together and looking in the same direction, so we’re just going to call this one a win even without the birthday princess.
And it was a win. This was the closest thing to a send off that we were going to be able to do for Hannah and I think it was just right.