Party pictures are always so much more interesting when they include lots of people. You know, like at a party. Parties really aren't much fun if there are only 1 or 2 attendees. But I'm cautious of posting photos of people I don't have permission from, and often don't feel like taking the time to contact everyone's parents to see if it's okay to include their kids on the blog. This time, however, to prove that Samantha was not the only person at her party, I have taken that extra step and gotten permissions.
Samantha turns 8 tomorrow. How did my baby grow up so quickly? I usually have her party after her actual birthday, since, at least before now, I was afraid it would be confusing to her to have the party first and have everyone tell her happy birthday, but not actually be that age yet, and then have everyone tell her happy birthday again on the actual day. I wasn't sure how to explain that to her. I'd originally had her party set for this weekend, following that tradition, but something came up and I was able to move it to this past Sunday. And I knew that there would be no confusion for her. I am loving that now it's easy to explain so, so many things to her that she completely understands. It's a beautiful thing.
Every year I begin to obsess about Sammi's upcoming birthday party as early as February. I am determined to be the ultimate crafty mom and do as much as I can myself, rather than buying pre-made stuff. Not like there's anything wrong with pre-made, but I think the crafty stuff always looks better, even if it's not perfect. Uh, like my cupcakes. Okay, so I didn't actually make the cake from scratch, or even the frosting, but I did try my hand for the very first time with a piping bag, and was thrilled with the results!
This year, February came and went, along with March and April before I realized I needed to act fast. I conceded that my crafty fantasy was not likely to happen, and that I'd have to settle for prefab. But when I began to really think about it, I discovered that less became more, and I could still pull it off with a much simpler plan.
The cupcake toppers were perfectly-hued felt flower stickers that came together in a package from Michael's, on colored toothpicks. I left the backing on the stickers, and lifted it just enough to slide in the toothpick, creating an instant topper!
I've never been a big fan of the little goody bags with random plastic toys and mini bottle of bubble stuff with a wand that's too small to use. Maybe that's not what's given at parties anymore at this age anyway, since the last party I went to had the most brilliant guest gift ever, a gift card for a local froyo joint. But again, I prefer the DIY approach, and Target's metal buckets in their dollar bins always serve as the perfect vessel and theme enhancer. This year I added plastic pinwheels (went to 4 different Targets to find them, but wasn't able to get enough) and decorator flowers from Michael's (to supplement), mini gel pens, a glow-stick, a package of fruit snacks, a paper-pulp flower pot and some zinnia seeds in a little self-made envelope with planting instructions printed on it. The ensemble cost less than $3.00 each to put together, and is far more interesting than most typical party favors, if I must say so myself!
I re-used some garland decorations I made by hand for Sammi's party 2 years ago - who knew I'd get the opportunity? Glad I saved them. :-)
My mother remarked that this year the party seemed so much more fun, since the children were more self-sufficient and could run around on the playground on their own, and we grown-ups could hang out in the shade of the pavilion and gab. It was really pretty awesome to think about, those year-to-year changes marked by this one event. Samantha was pretty self-sufficient as well, in the capable hands of her friends for the most part, and within range of our vision for the most part (glad I put her in a bright pink dress!). I wasn't worried about her, but Steve did report that at one point when he tracked her down at a distant portion of the playground (it's a pretty big plot of land), he stopped her from picking up a little kid who was playing there. Ever the sweet-hearted little helper, sometimes her "help" is not wanted and skirts a potential disaster since she doesn't yet realize she's not strong enough to lift someone up.
As is customary for Samantha's birthdays, the request for the Happy Birthday song to be sung quietly was heeded, and her sensitivity to that sort of thing (which I suspect she's outgrown, but she has been conditioned now to expect that she's going to have a problem with it and even requested a few days before the party that we bring her headphones, just in case. A request we did not heed because we forgot. On purpose.)
Um, yeah...the photo below, of Sammi and Louisa, was taken just before Louisa decided she wanted to get down and Samantha nearly let her make the head-first drop to the ground. No babies were hurt in the taking of this photo.
So, for next year...let the obsessing begin! What does one do for a birthday party with a bunch of 9 year olds? Is a playground with a pavilion still appropriate? Do we need to get more creative (oh, please say nooooo...)? To me, 9 year olds sound like alien creatures - I can't even imagine what to expect, especially with the mental age gap between them and Samantha. What happens, generally, to birthday parties as kids get older? This task of creating next year's party may put my usual February planning start date to shame.