Monday, July 11, 2011

It's a Party and I'll Obsess If I Want to

For the last few weeks, I've been obsessing...no, make that OBSESSING! over S's 3rd birthday party. Her birthday is August 28th, so it's not like I am running short on time to plan. However, unlike the last two years when I had a clear idea early on what I wanted to do for the party and had things booked and confirmed in June, this year I've been indecisive and wishy-washy.

Pool party? Carnival party? Zoo party? Bouncy party? Children's museum party?

It didn't help that we've attended a few of her classmates' parties recently and so, in the spirit of not repeating what everyone else is doing, I had to cross the carnival party idea, which I considered for the local Kiddie Park that S loves, off the list, as well as the zoo and the bouncy house (we actually did a bouncy house party last year). I crossed the pool party idea off the list because S has been having some issues with her ears since her last tube surgery, so we haven't been swimming as much this summer as we did last summer. And I nixed the children's museum party idea because a friend of mine had taken her son to one recently and the museum is so big, they didn't see much of the people at the party except for the 20 minutes they served cake in the party room. I want to see and hang out with our guests, thanks.

My criteria for S's party are as follows:
  • Not at my house
  • An activity or location S likes
  • Something different than what we've done in years past
  • Something that has built-in activities for the duration of the party
Then, I came across a local farm/petting zoo that hosts parties. The Nana and I took S out Friday to check it out and make sure she would like it. Given that she loves animals, I wasn't too worried, but just wanted to be sure. I also wanted to see how the party setup worked.

S and the Nana arrive at the farm. The Nana realized pretty quickly
she's going to need to wear different shoes at the party.

The only downsides to the farm party I could see were (1) the farm theme is dangerously similar to the cowgirl theme we had at last year's party and (2) it would be an outdoor party. In August. Which is hot as hell! (The main argument for the pool party-coolness!)

Luckily, the farm has several covered pavillion areas with electricity and fans to keep party guests cool. Each party gets its own pavillion. The kids will be able to feed and pet goats, llamas, pigs, bunnies, and guinea pigs and be able to see a real longhorn cow, donkeys, and a huge peacock that roams the grounds.

S feeds the goats--so cute!

S pets the goats. Of course, we smelled like goat the rest of the day.

The kids can also play in a huge sandbox and water table and playground. Every kid will also get a pony ride during the party-S will get two rides as birthday girl! And then they will take everyone on a hayride around the property!

Big sandbox--everyone will need a bath after the party for sure!

S riding Butterscotch the sweet pony. S got right up in the saddle. The kid has no fear!
No idea where she gets her fearlessness from. She seemed like a natural.

It took us about an hour and a half to do all of these activities on Friday...add in time for pizza and cake and I think that will fill up the two to three hours of the party perfectly. So, location-check! I put down a deposit and booked the party at 10 a.m. so as to beat as much of the heat as possible.

The Nana, my co-party planner, and I decided we would focus the decor around the animals, so as to differentiate it from last year's western theme. I've found two printable party designs on Etsy I like and am trying to decide between them:

Option 1 is probably my favorite. The seller has a version
where everything shown here in red is pink, which I really like.

Option 2 is also cute in pink and green...didn't have a picture of all the pieces together.

Both options have matching invitations and the pieces can be customized with S's name. I'm probably leaning toward option 1--what do you think?

I've also decided to make the party and invite planning easier on me by outsourcing all the photography. Last year, I was chasing S around in our backyard, trying desperately to snap cute shots of her in a cowgirl hat for the invite. Then, at the party, I got all stressed out trying to be the host, make sure everyone was okay and had what they needed, and take pictures. (In my family, I'm the designated photographer.)

A friend of mine introduced me to her friend who is a young, stay-at-home mom of four, who takes beautiful pictures, and is looking to expand into photography as more of a business instead of just a hobby. This week, I'm going to have her take some casual shots of S for the party invite and if I like what I see, I'm just going to hire her to take candids during the party, so I can actually enjoy the party (and maybe even end up in a picture or two LOL). Since she is just getting started, she's not charging very much for the pictures, but if she does a good job, she'll certainly get more business from me!

So, now I'm just obsessing over the details (cake! favors! food! what to wear!), but feel better that the location has been secured and the theme selected. And that I've solved the photography problem of years past. And yes, I'm sure I'm a little crazy, but I have great memories of the awesome theme parties the Nana threw for me when I was growing up, and I just want S to have the same. :)

What was your favorite birthday party like--either one you had as a kid or one you threw for your kid? I can always use more ideas to obsess over!

2 comments:

  1. Hmmm, my parents didn't really do theme parties for us (not sure if it was a money thing because there were four of us and money was always an issue)but I've sort of done them for my kids. The exception, of course, being Shelby. Last year, Joey had a college football theme party at my parents' home. Tail-gate food, everyone wore their favorite college team shirt, football field on the cake. This year my theme for Will (who turned 2 in May) was "What are Little Boys made of...snips and snails and puppy dog tails" and had it outdoors at a park. Grilled, we painted flower pots and planted grass in them and the kids had a playground. I made "dirt cupcakes" which were a hit except with the child who thought the gummy worm was real (his parents actually thought his reaction was adorable and weren't horrified). For Joey's birthday this year, we are doing another outdoor theme/football. His birthday (in September) is on a Wednesday and my husband's former high school has their homecoming game that Friday so we will go to the game Friday night and then Saturday morning we will go to a state park with natural cliffs where they have nature trails, a snake museum, a picnic area and a swimming area for his party. Will's birthday is May 7 and next year the Saturday before is Cinco de Mayo. Guess what our theme is going to be? We plan on catering some great Mexican food, making margaritas for the adults, having a pinata and screening the 60's Disney films "Saludos Amigos" and "The Three Caballeros." A real fiesta.
    Funny, we had a birthday play-date for Shelby this past weekend (just for her and her friends and their parents) and all but one child were on the autism spectrum and everyone said the same thing you did about a Children's Museum party (some of the kids are more high functioning than others). I might do a princess theme party for Shelby next year, but most of her "friends" and classmates are boys! Not sure how that will fly :). I really like time-period themes (although that tends to work better when they get older) and cultural themes. I am hoping that maybe Jeff will throw me a roaring 20's party or a Chinese themed one :). I can dream...

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  2. I love the petting zoo idea. I'll hope for a seasonally cool day for you. =)

    You're making me start to daydream about planning Gavin's future birthday parties. With a late-October birthday, I envision a pumpkin farm/carving birthday, complete with hay rides and even stencils for their pumpkins! (Of course, this will have to wait something like 5 years, until Gavin and his contemporaries are old enough - ha!)

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