My younger daughter just turned two, so since we’re back in our old house with plenty of room for entertaining, we decided to keep things simple and just have a cute little Minnie Mouse themed birthday party at home. We’d invite her friends from school, have cake and games and an all-around good time. Sounds simple enough, right? So how did it balloon out of control faster than you can say cake and ice cream? Well, I think it all started when I was talking to a friend on the phone.
“You’re having it at home? Not at a play gym?” My friend was shocked.
Me: “Yes, she’s only two.”
Friend: “Well, that’s true. So, are you going to have The Balloon Man? Or the Party Bus? Who’s going to do the entertainment?”
Uhh, I had never heard of these things and was surprised that they were apparently the new necessities by which a “successful” birthday party is judged. So I tried to put on my hipster hat and just replied, “Well, we’re just gonna rock it old school and have cute games like Pin the Bow on Minnie Mouse and musical chairs and freeze dance and maybe some crafty activity.”
Friend: “Ohhh old school. Yeah, that’s cool. That should work.”
Relief—did not realize “old school” was actually an acceptable theme but glad it worked. Now I just had to make sure I had the coolest, most fun, “old school” style party ever! No pressure! After all, people would be driving out to our house and this would be our first party since arriving back in town. We’d have new friends from my daughter’s school and old friends-but it had to be good!
So I spent hours combing through Pinterest and Mom blogs looking for amazing kid party ideas. And quite frankly, I didn’t really see anything over the moon. Then, I remembered my cousin’s 50th birthday bash which featured an easy DIY photo-booth from Glitzycam.com. You just download the program onto your camera-enabled laptop and voila-you’re in business. Couple that with super cute Mickey and Minnie magnet frames at the dollar store and I had a great, interactive activity and goody-bag keepsake!
But I still wanted to do something educational/stimulating, like a fun craft, so I decided to do a Make Your Own Mickey/Minnie Mouse Puppet station. Supplies: brown paper bags, construction paper ears-that the kids would glue. I could draw the eyes/nose/mouth, and then I’d make Minnie bows for the girls or Mickey bow-ties for the bows.
Run down of my party plan:
1) Games: Pin the Bow on Minnie Mouse, Freeze dance to Disney songs, Hokey Pokey, Musical Chairs
2) Photo booth Station
3) Craft time: Make Mickey/Minnie paper bag puppets
4) Pizza and Cake
5) Success! Best Old School party of the season! And most importantly, happiest little daughter in the world.
Here’s what really happened:
I forgot 3 important things that little kids love.
1) Kids love just playing with toys, especially toys at their friends’ houses because they’re different and it’s like being at a toy store.
2) Kids love tents, especially ones that look like tree houses with windows and doors (which we have in the play area).
3) Kids really love wild animals like wolves and lions but they’ll also go crazy over your typical domesticated dog and cat, especially if said pets are hiding behind the basement door only visible via the open cat door (window)—it creates an instant zoo-like effect.
When the kids arrived, they immediately started playing nicely with my daughters’ toys, the tree tent, and the birthday balloons that were scattered around. Then, many of the children noticed our pets hiding behind the basement door. Uproarious laughter and squeals of joy ensued as they peaked their little heads through the open cat door to see our mini zoo.
To the untrained eye, this looked like mass chaos-no set agenda, no orderly activities. I started stressing out. How were we going to get all of my important Old School style events done on time? I voiced my concern to one of my old friends, who’s son was having a blast in the tree house. “Shana,” she said. “Look around—everyone is playing so nicely. No crying, no pushing, no arguing. Just laughter and fun. Even the parents are having fun! This is a two year old birthday party. It’s basically an open play date- a chance for us parents to just relax and enjoy each other’s company while the kids have a good time. It’s a gift to everyone. Now you just need to relax and have fun.” And she handed me a mimosa.
As took a sip, I looked around. She was right. The dads were drinking beer and talking sports. The moms were drinking mimosas and relaxing. Everyone was having a great time. I didn’t need to have set activities. I didn’t need structured games. All we needed was friends, and fun, and laughter, and isn’t that what Old School is all about anyway? Finding joy in the simple things in life, surrounded by friends and loved ones. So I guess “Rockin’ it Old School” is really just the Gen X way of saying “let’s unplug and enjoy the moment” which is what birthdays are all about.
We never did get to the old school games, or crafts. So I saved the supplies for a rainy day play date. We did however, do the photo booth, which was a huge success, and I know will now become a trademark of all our future parties.