In general, we’ve never been “throw a big bash for our kid’s birthday” kind of people. That said, we have plenty of friends who do throw these parties and I know it’s a great chance to get family and friends together to have fun. From the time my kids were babies…birthdays have always been immediate family, grandparents and a cake I made myself.
Then again, I’m one of those people that rarely sees the value in having 50 people over for a first birthday party or in shelling out hundreds of dollars to rent a facility for 30 of your 3 year old’s closest “friends.” Not that there’s anything wrong with throwing a party…I mean in all honesty, we have events at our farm almost monthly, but tacking on yet another event for a person who won’t remember it has seemed…well…silly.
I also get that in some cultures, it’s a huge thing. I know Korean families make a huge deal out of first birthdays, Jewish families throw huge bashes for Bar and Mat Mitzvahs and several other cultures have some very important milestones. But as I’ve been researching party ideas on the web, I’m a little dismayed to see party after party for toddlers and grade school kids that feature “caterers, stylists, event planners, photographers and graphic designers.” I mean at what point are you just setting your kid up for a completely unrealistic idea of life. (Or setting yourself up to have to top things year after year.)
Around here, Mr W simply has to remind me not to go too elaborate on the birthday cake I’m making myself. I didn’t realize people were having to reign in their desire for $300 smash cakes. *sigh*
So with Thing One’s eighth birthday coming up in a few short weeks, I made her the same offer we’ve started making each of our kids. They may have one “large” present or a smaller gift and a party hosted at our home for their school friends. Thing Two opted for the larger present last month because he desperately wanted a new bike. Thing One was giving the option of the Barbie Dream House she’s had her eye on, but decided she’d rather go small and have a slumber party with 5 of her girlfriends.
Of course that means she and I have had the fun of hunting for ideas and inspiration on the web and via Pinterest. (Having just wrapped up my book on Pinterest I can’t even tell you how cute it is to have her curled up next to me on my bed looking at ideas and hear her squeal “oh MOMMY! Can I pin that!?!”)
We haven’t fully decided on what we’ll be doing, so I figured I’d share a post now and then do another one after the event letting you know what we decided on. My goal is to pull the whole thing off for $50-$60, which is about $10 per girl. I won’t count the cost of any food that’s part of our normal grocery budget, only anything special I end up buying.
We (and I say we because Thing One has certainly helped) have put together a pinboard titled “Slumber Party Ideas” if you’d like to follow along with our idea gathering.
I figure I’ll need to plan:
- a Movie
- Goody Bags/Take Home Treats
What We’ll Do for Dinner
My loose plan is to either do a make your own pizza bar or have some type of “fancy pants” party food spread for them. It will ultimately depend on how much work or effort goes into other parts of the party. I’ve seen some adorable food ideas though, including these:
Super Simple Wrapped Sandwiches
(from A Little Sussy)
Mini Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Shooters
(from Oh Happy Day – a FANTASTIC site for DIY party ideas)
Bite Size Fruit and Veggie Bar
(from Modern Party Ideas)
Bite Size Burgers & Fries
(from Modern PartyIdeas)
Mini Mac n Cheese Cupcake Bites
(From The Curvy Carrot)
Ideas for Games and Activities plus Take Homes
This one has actually been pretty fun. I mean I realize that in the grand scheme of things, five girls having their first slumber party will probably have NO problem filling the time. That’s why I figure I’ll come up with one or two games or a craft idea they can work on together while generally laughing, giggling and doing what little girls do.
I’ve come across some cute ideas like “Crazy Toes” where you sit in a circle and spin different bottles of nail polish. Whomever the bottle points to has to paint a nail. You swap colors and spin until everyone has a crazy mish mash of colors.
Also read about one where you sit in a circle and move left or right in your chairs based on instructions. “If you have brown eyes move two seats to the left,” and so on. The idea is that at some points, they are stacked in each other’s laps, which probably also leads to plenty of giggles.
I’ve also kicked around hanging a sheet up and bringing Thing One’s “imagination box” downstairs to let them do a fashion show. That’s also led to the idea that it might be fun to get some good group shots and send them home with a picture frame.
Of course there’s also the requisite pillow fights and ghost stories to fill the time as well. I’d love to hear any ideas from readers on what their favorite slumber party games were. (And no, we’re not doing truth or dare, painting anyone’s face after they are asleep or freezing undies… I always hated those things.)
The Dessert Options
Chances are pretty high there will not be a cake at this party. I’m already going to need to make a cake for our family party a few days prior an I’ll need to make cupcakes to send to school with her. (You can check out the ideas I’ve been collecting for that on my Birthday and Event Cake pinboard.)
I’ll be sure to share post on what I end up making for our family party and school in a post down the road, so for now let’s focus on party desserts.
Since girls are girls and they are far more concerned with cute than massive, I’m leaning toward having several smaller bite-size desserts they can snack on over the course of the evening. At the same time, I don’t want to spend two days making fancy treats for eight year old girls. (As Mr W is always reminding me, it takes WAY less to impress an eight year old girl than I think it will…save the hard work till they are teenagers!)
I’ve come across a couple options that can be made with things I already have on hand and that would offer up variety without a ton of work. Here are some of my favorites:
(From Bright, Bold and Beautiful)
Strawberry Shortcake Kabobs
(From Lady Behind the Curtain)
Mini Fruit Salad Parfaits
(from Hostess with the Mostest)
Ba’Nilla Sandwich Cookies
(from Bakers Royale)
Glazed Mini Donuts
Dipped Marshmallow Bites
(from Enchanted Events and Design)
Sprinkle Rimmed Milk Glasses
(from Blog con Queso)
Spoonable Late Night Snack Jars
Picking a Movie
Of course the other challenge I’ll have is picking a movie. I realize we could probably pick any of the various Dreamworks or Disney movies up there, but she is eight and a few of the girls coming are nine and ten, so part of me always wants to get the chance to do a non-animated movie.
I’ve been trying to think through what movies I loved at that age as well as what has come out recently. Thing One LOVES the Judy Moody books, so I know that one has potential. I think the Ramona and Beezus movie could also work as it might spark a love for a whole new series of books in her. I’ve also considered Now & Then, which was one of my favorite movies when I was younger and even The Goonies, as it was a perpetual sleepover favorite when I was little. This is another area where I’d love to hear some suggestions from my readers.
Figuring out Breakfast
The last thing I’ll need to figure out is what to do with them in the morning. I could take the easy route and get single serve yogurts and fresh fruit and do up these adorable little cereal boxes…
Slumber Party Cereal Boxes
(from Oh Sugar Events)
but since breakfast is one of my favorite meals to cook from scratch, there’s a good chance we’ll pull out the griddle and do french toast, pancakes or waffles. Hey, we can always throw some sprinkles into the batter to make it really cute.
Either way, the goal is not to spend more than the day of the party getting food made and things setup and to keep the cost reasonable. Based on the fact that Thing One is already asking on an almost daily basis how many days until her slumber party gets here gives me a pretty good indicator she’s going to have fun no matter how we do it.