My little man turned 4 on Sunday. 4. I just can’t believe he’s that old, a solid preschool age, not ambiguously toddler or anything. He is growing too fast, just like everyone said he would (his sister on the other hand….that is going by quite slowly….). He has been patiently attending his friends’ birthday parties for the last few months, frustrated that he still couldn’t have one of his own (apparently his giant party last year was too long ago for him to remember at this point).
(Not a bruise on his forehead, by the way. He seems to always have a smudge of dirt in that spot. Still haven’t nailed down how that happens…)
I got an invite for a birthday party that is happening in May and then it clicked….aw, man. I need to throw Dexter a party. Really soon. Planning for Easter should have been enough of a reminder. It was 4 years ago Easter that I was sitting at a picnic, miserably hot and cranky. Outdoors, Florida, April, 9 months pregnant is only fun if you are a) in a pool or b) ….really, only in a pool. The next day I was in labor, and he was technically born on Tuesday following Easter, but at 4:56AM so it still felt like Monday to all of us involved. But I digress. I asked Dexter what kind of party he wanted. Do you want to go to the beach with friends? Do you want to have a party on the playground at home? “I want pizza, balloons, cake, and friends. And Legos.” Ah, I see. He requested we have the party at home, and demanded the balloons and pizza, copying from some recent birthday parties he has attended. Easy enough. But Legos? He was only turning 4, many of his friends are in the 1-3 age bracket, and itty bitty Legos with 1-year olds seems like a pretty bad call. I tried my best to convince him of another theme, but he was not having it. So a Lego party it would be.
I sent out a quick Facebook invite and got to work planning the details. Menu first, since I love food. Well, it had to be pizza or I would have a meltdown of disastrous proportions on my hands. I decided to phone it in and let the local pizza place handle the pizza (and yummy garlic knots…mmmm). I decided to make a salad to accompany it (with local organic produce, to make up for the pizza perhaps) and a fruit salad (just cut up fruit). Easy main course! For appetizers, I made some Kale Pesto White Bean Dip that I’ve been wanting to try (and am snacking on the leftovers as I type) with carrots, pita chips, and pretzels to dip, as well as some Annie’s Trail Mix as a special treat and sliced cheese.
I decorated the food table with a ‘4’ sign and a utensil holder made out of Duplos. Aren’t they cute? And I got the idea to spray paint bubble wrap to look like a Lego base plate here. The banner came together quickly! I wanted to replicate some more legos and used card-stock and punched circles for the front of the table.
The other table on my patio got similar decorations, with Legos in mason jars as a centerpiece.
For activities at the party, I knew that actual Legos just wouldn’t work out. I like to have activities that don’t require wrangling all the kids together at this age, since most of the partygoers were of the under 4 set (aside from a few cousins and older siblings). We had ‘Design a Minifig’ Coloring by the playground
And the bean bag toss set up…
I had seen so many ideas for a ‘Pin the Head on the Lego Man’ or ‘Pin the Brick’ etc, but I know that pin the anything on the anything has not worked at previous parties for this age group…
So I made ‘Build the Lego Man’ instead.
I made a Lego Man outline on poster board (I just free handed it, following the minifig outline I found), then made cardstock pieces to fill it out. I attached Velcro dots and done, easy game.
Ages 2-7 enjoyed it, so I’ll call it a win.
Also, I had our Duplos on a parachute in the corner of the patio. This was very nice for the 1-3 set, who just wanted to sit and play for a little….while also keeping everyone out of the house for the most part, so cleaning up after the party was a breeze ;)
I had a few other games ready if necessary, but everyone was so busy with everything we had out already (plus pool and playground time) that they were not necessary.
For party favors, I made Lego bags out of plain color bags, circle punch, and foam sticky dots. Inside, there were Lego man crayons I made from a mold bought off EBay, a coloring book I printed from some free Lego images, Lego stickers, and bubbles, because everyone loves bubbles.
I stamped one of the circles on the bags with Thank You, too.
I did ask everyone to not bring presents, and most didn’t. We really don’t want more toys in the house, but D did get a few new Lego sets (he’s already built all of them, so much for that lasting awhile).
I had everything out to bake cupcakes for the party and was avoiding it as long as I could. Then I casually check Facebook, and there’s a special at the local cupcake shop for $1 ‘naked’ cupcakes. I packed up my baking supplies and sent hubby out…I try, but I’m not a superhero or anything. I made some whipped cream frosting (with a little gelatin to stabilize it in the Florida heat) and topped with some chocolate Lego men. Done. I did bake some Lemon Crinkles and made some popsicles (I bought cheap molds, pureed some frozen strawberries from when we went strawberry picking earlier, added in some banana and apple juice). Both were a big hit. No pictures, since serving popsicles to toddlers requires all hands on deck :)
Anybody else plan birthday parties for a wide range of ages? How much of your parties are homemade and how much are from the store?