As my daughter’s 4th birthday approached, I struggled with what kind of party to plan and what sort of gift to give her. We’ve done a lot of work over the past year to simplify, and I know I still have a long way to go. With that in mind, I asked myself, “What does she really enjoy doing? How does she spend most of her time?” Well, the answer to that was easy – singing (usually VERY loudly!), and dancing. We have a raised stone hearth around our fireplace that usually serves as the stage for her many performances. Then I asked myself how I could encourage her singing and dancing, and I came up with the idea to make curtains for our “stage”. For the curtains, I splurged (with a coupon) and got real silk. I added a gold decorative stitch to make it feel a bit more “theater” like and hung it with some tension rods.
We also gave her a puppet and some play silks. For the silks, I bought (again with a coupon) a couple yards of fabric & then surged the ends. I am grateful that the curtains, puppet and silks have inspired many creative adventures.
I wanted a party that was a celebration of being 4 years old, so this is what we came up with:
I planned to start off with games outside before it got too hot. None of the games lasted as long as I planned, but the kids had a good time. (Unplugged Play by Bobbi Conner is a great resource.) Red light/Green light was the biggest hit.
After they were all hot and sweaty, we came back in for snacks– cheese, crackers, & pear slices. (I planned on apples, but pears were on sale! I’d also planned to make all of the crackers, but sometimes you just can’t do it all.)
Then it was time for a craft – making felt party hats. I wanted to find something to give as a party favor that would actually be useful and something the kids would enjoy having for a long time. I came up with the idea of making felt party hats with Velcro numbers so that kids can use them every year for their birthday. I hoped that they would find a nice home with the kid’s dress-up clothes so that it could be used every time they played “birthday party”, or maybe they would be treasured and come out only for birthdays. But hopefully they wouldn’t be seen as trash & thrown away. After days of cutting out circles & numbers (Thanks mom for the help!!!), they were ready for the kids to assemble!
I LOVE that some of the numbers are glued on backwards, and I’m actually quite impressed that any of them are on correctly!
After the party hats were made, it was time for the most important part of any birthday party – CAKE! Alyssa helped me make yellow cupcakes using freshly ground whole wheat flour with chocolate frosting & sprinkles. I’m not really sure what’s in sprinkles, but I’m willing to ignore that because it’s such a small amount & it’s for her birthday. Besides, that’s Alyssa’s favorite job – sprinkling the cupcakes after I frost them. Nobody complained that they tasted “whole-wheaty”, so I hope that means that everyone enjoyed them.
A couple of years ago, we asked our guests not to bring presents, but everyone brought something anyway. So, we decided to ask them to bring something for a charity. Earlier this summer, Alyssa helped me make dinner for the interns at Project Transformation, so we asked our guests to bring school supplies for their after school program.
A few weeks after her birthday, Alyssa got to come with me to the end of summer Celebration Banquet and deliver the supplies she collected. It was a beautiful culmination to her fourth birthday.
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