Saturday, 8 November 2014

Life With Kids: Birthday Party Edition

My children are now 5, 3 and under 1 year old.
The boys have had a joint birthday party and yes, even V-Man had one at the age of 1.

When I told this to a friend (and I'm sure other people think the same) - she pointed out that the kids wouldn't remember a first birthday party.
No I imagine not.
But here's my reasons for having a birthday party.

Because of V-Man's autism and at the time we didn't know it and just thought he was just being incredibly difficult in new places or waking up anywhere that wasn't home - so having a party was a great way to bring our friends together.  We could "visit" with several people at one time and have a bit of a social life this way.  That and we had some American friends (without children) who were hoping to meet my whole family at once - so this was perfect.
Then when A-Man was born and because his birthday is two weeks prior to V-Man - it made perfect sense to have a joint birthday party.  It saves us money and time and again, we still get to see those friends all in one go.

The first two years, we hosted it in our home because the weather was warm enough we could keep the dogs on the balcony.
But now that the kids are bigger and can open doors - putting the dogs in a separate bedroom doesn't cut it anymore and it's a bit of a bothersome to put the dogs on the balcony because they occasionally bark at other dogs if they see them.
So the past two years, I've been renting out a community room with a tiny kitchenette included (no stove or oven) but it does the job, has loads of furniture and space and the kids can run around like crazy for 4 hours.
That and we've befriended some people who are:
  • Scared of dogs
  • Allergic to dogs
  • Have severe asthma when around pets or any amount of dust
So this saves us on cleaning, worrying about anyone getting sick and so on.

Last year was a Sesame Street themed party but this year I wasn't going to do any sort of theme.  Maybe Moomins - but when I went to a second-hand store and found a few Spiderman party sets (plates, napkins, treat bags, cards and cups with straws) - for 5€ a box - it seemed like the better way to go.
Then all I needed to get was a table cloth, goodies for the treat bags and of course the food!

"Aren't treat bags kind of fancy?" my friend asked.
Well, they can certainly be extravagant, but I tried to keep things within a budget and practical in the treat bags.
And sugar-free because the party has cake or ice-cream - seems silly to pump them with even more sugar!
Last year I made popcorn balls and reflectors on thick pieces of felt with googly eyes.
I also see treat bags as a little gift of thanks to both the child and parent for taking the time out of their weekend to come hang out with us and join the party.
This year, I opted for buying hard plastic reflectors, some little stamps and a little package of colourful clay/play-dough.
It gets dark in Finland and even though there's now snow on the ground, reflectors are definitely a must!

V-Man was at overnight care for the past week so we picked up him and brought him to the party for a few hours and he survived happily with a balloon and platefuls of food for the first hour.
I was freaking impressed!  But once it got to be "too much" for him - too much sounds, squealing as kids chased each other and A-Man stealing his balloon - and the fact he kept trying to leave - that's when I realized he needed a break.
He needed to be alone and I respect that.  I brought my phone and let him watch his beloved Fröbelin Palikat on Youtube and he was much calmer almost immediately.  He was able to focus on the music and tune out the noise around him.

For food - I had finger foods because the party started at 2pm - it was after lunch and before supper.  Perfect time for finger foods - (mostly) healthy and light.
Fruit, veggies, nacho dip, some chips and had cupcakes and ice-cream sundaes (we just used extra paper cups for the sundaes...
Juices, teas and coffees with hot chocolate were readily available. 
There was so much food it didn't fit in the photo.
And because gummy tarantulas were on sale after Halloween, it was a perfect cupcake topper!

I baked regular chocolate cupcakes (low-lactose) and made some vanilla butter-cream frosting.  Then I crushed some Domino cookies (the Finnish equivalent of Oreo cookies) using a food processor and then dipped each cupcake in that and squished on a gummy tarantula - ta-da!

Chocolate cupcakes!

For decorations - I just bought a bag of balloons and at first filled them with too much air - so some were popping with barely any contact.  
I was sort of hoping it would start a friend's labour as she has only a couple weeks left... ;-)

We didn't have any games because A-Man can't seem to grasp rules or be able to sit still long enough, and V-Man wouldn't be too interested either - and of course M-Girl's too young - so we just let the kids run around with the balloons and jump around and they seemed to enjoy themselves.
Also, we had a big pad of craft paper and a box of markers for the kids to colour with and they seemed to enjoy it and proudly took home their artwork. :) 

When we pick up V-Man today, we'll let the kids open their presents together.  It didn't seem fair to let Ahti open them last night because V-Man went back to overnight care after the party and I think he needed the peace and quiet after such a busy party!
We had about 10 children altogether join us yesterday.

I do realize that my children have no idea what their birthdays mean and they don't quite get the concept of Christmas or any other holiday or holiday figure (i.e. Santa, Tooth Fairy etc.) - so I'm enjoying this while I can.
Before they get a little more demanding or requesting to NOT have a party together or a party at all.

And yes, M-Girl will probably have a little birthday party herself next year when she turns 1.  But it can probably tied into with mine as our birthdays are two weeks apart as well!  That and she seemed to handle the loads of attention, balloons (yes, even when they popped) and children running around her quite well.
And considering she can pull herself up to stand and dance in one spot - and move furniture around while walking - she'll probably be able to walk around by her 1st birthday too!

While we have lots of left overs that'll last us quite some time - I remember last year using up the vegetables in a stir-fry.  So I think for lunch - that's what we'll have! :D


No comments:

Post a Comment