I couldn’t very well have just ignored that and thrown him a theme-less birthday party, could I? Especially not after I realized I could name the affair “Spring Fourth” (get it?) and use astroturf as a tablecloth.
Okay, I called it an “affair” up there, but let’s be real. For the most part, four-year-olds don’t give a crap, and even if they did, it’s A FOUR-YEAR-OLD’S BIRTHDAY PARTY and I have an infant and a passion for frugality and it’s a four-year-old’s birthday party. I did exactly as much crafting as I could to satisfy my own need to craft, and the rest of it was pretty low-key, if you don’t count shutting down the street so we had ample room to set up the petting zoo, pony rides, and make-your-own-gourmet-brick-oven-pizza station.
(There was no petting zoo or pony rides and I did not shut down the street for a rental brick-oven-pizza trailer.)
I put a little energy into a few easy but big-impact features and simply ignored the voices begging me to do things like hand-sew and monogram drawstring goody bags when the kids only care about what’s inside. (Bubbles, bunny snacks, a wooden magnet clip thingy to color, and a little packet of poppy seeds, because nothing says party like giving preschoolers opiates.)
Even the table turf was a scaled-back version of what the Voices had in mind. I’d had visions of buying a patch of real sod and nestling all the food amongst the sprouts [and then buying professional photography lighting so I could go viral on Pinterest], but then I started thinking about dirt and allergies and BUGS, and anyway, Simon reminded me we had the perfect amount of fake grass leftover from carpeting the cats’ climbing structure, so no, I didn’t need to buy real grass and could instead spend that $30 on something more practical, like the pièce de résistance: a garden trowel marked with the numbers 1 through 4 (get it?), which we used as the server for a decadent dirt cake.
My mom made me one of these when I turned 12 and I was horrified when she dug into a flower pot and started scooping out the dirt and mud onto paper plates for my friends. Four-year-olds are less squeamish, thank god, although some of the parents balked when they noticed it contained gummy worms.
Otherwise, everyone was into the rainbow fruit salad, the “spring chicken” nuggets (get it?), and the hot dogs cut to look like springs. (Oh, I slay me.)
The spiral-cut hot dogs are seriously SO GREAT. Let’s meet back here next week and make some together.
Related, here’s the shirt I made for Simon. Idea, his; execution, mine.
Finally, you know how I love hanging balloons. This time we did it with monofilament (aka fishing line) and hung the rainbow over the path leading up to the front porch. The kids LOVED it–Wombat especially, which was of course the point (“Mom, it looks so LOVELY!”)–and for real, if you’ve never hung balloons before, you should because it’s super impressive and super easy (especially if you have your husband and mom do it for you, ahem). Here’s the how-to.
And the rest was all just good four-year-old-birthday-party fun. The kids ran around outside a bit, ran around inside a bit, and then when Cake Time was announced, they poured out from under Wombat’s bed clown-car style, which was my favorite moment of the day. They ate on the porch and had a grand time, and I’m telling you this: the best way to make friends with other parents is to invite their kids to your kid’s birthday party.
(Also satisfying: Continuing to use leftover wedding supplies, like plates and streamers and toothpicks and napkins and pinwheels.)
I’d posed the “Party games: Y or N?” question to Twitter for last year’s party, and everyone was right that all three-year-olds need is a bunch of toys dumped on the floor. When I asked the question again this year, again Twitter was right in that four-year-olds definitely have the attention span for a game or two. At the suggestion of my MIL, we played Pass the Parcel, a staple in England, where her other two grandkids live, and it was a total hit. Look, it has its own Wikipedia entry. We also tried to play Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button, but soon realized we were giving the kids too much credit, or perhaps not enough, because they are terrible liars. If you want to fool anyone, get working on your poker faces, dudes.
On the bright side, at least we know their happiness is real too.