Tater had his big 5th birthday party this weekend, and I must say that it was a smashing success! We had a superhero theme party at our house in the backyard. We saved a lot doing things ourselves. Thank goodness the weather was nice. Here are some of the things we did (and didn't) do...
1. No presents. The no-present party is more controversial topic than I imagined. On the invite I put, "No gifts, please. Your presence is the greatest gift." Some think it flat out rude to request no presents on the invite. Some think it's false-altruism, "we're less materialistic than you." Others think its perfectly fine. Here's my main reason: I'm lazy. I just didn't want to deal with the opening presents thing. Tater wanted a lot of friends over, and we didn't even get to invite everyone he wanted. We can only hold so many preschoolers! But I told him that if we invited lots of friends, we'd open presents the night before. He was fine with it. We had a family party the previous night where Tater opened gifts from family. He got a lot. He and Monkey are the only grandkids on my husband's side. And my parents give them loads of stuff. Christmas is just around the corner, and my mom alone gives them more stuff than they can play with. Plus, they fight over everything, especially when it's new. And I just didn't want to deal with the "hey, that's mine!" arguments. They are also hard on toys, and I'm just so tired of throwing out broken toys. I wanted it to be one big play date, where the kids can run around, have fun and pretend. I did have a few parents mention that they would have liked an opportunity to remind their children of the importance of giving by picking out something for their friend. I get and appreciate that. But with the economy so bad, I didn't feel comfortable with folks feeling they had to bring something. I wanted to come across as saying, "Hey, parents, let's save ourselves some money and a trip to Target. Besides, they just want to play with one another anyway," but there wasn't enough space on the evite for that. A couple of people brought gifts, and they were greatly appreciated. We opened them after our guests left. I think we won't do the "no presents" thing again. Live and learn.
2. Paperless invitations. We went with an invite on the newevite.com. Worked well with our superhero theme and FREE!
3. Wearable favors. I made capes for our guests to wear. No, they are not that hard. I found this site with suggestions on a pattern. I appliqued a gold felt star on the back of each. The kids really liked them. I got a lot of, "you made those!?" But they aren't exactly that complicated. Sew two pieces of fabric together. Leave an opening. Turn inside out. Press. Stitch around the edge. Add velcro. And I don't think they cost more than other favors to make. On average, I spent about <$2/cape.
4. Superhero games. I'd love to take credit for this as well, but another creative mom came up with these games. I printed out the little jpegs she had online. They were very low-res, but no one cared.
- Lava Pit - filled an old sandbox with red balloons. Kids had to cross a bridge over it. This is a post-party shot. Most of the balloons had been popped.
- Leap Tall Buildings - we set up boxes for the kids to jump over.
- Kryptonite in the Batcave - We draped our swingset with tarps and black tablecloths creating a "batcave." The kids had to retrieve the "kryptonite" which were glow stick bracelets. They loved this.
- Mighty Muscles - I made barbells out of styrofoam balls. The kids took turns testing their strength. Here's Monkey demonstrating his strength.
- Vaporize a Villian - This was probably the most fun. We tacked pictures of villains on the wooden fence and gave each child a can of silly string. Some had a hard time pressing it down, but with a little help, they got the hang of it. Our bad guys were Darkseid, Syndrome, Emporer Zurg, The Joker, The Green Goblin, Catwoman and Mr. Freeze. I found pictures online and just printed them out.
Other than the balloons, silly string, and tablecloths, there were no other expenses. I had everything else already.
5. Superhero cupcakes. I love cupcakes. I found a website called superherostuff.com with jpegs of superhero pins. I printed some off of Batman, Spiderman and Superman, cut them out and glued them to little flat sticks I found at the craft store. The toppers were about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. I topped the superman ones with yellow frosting and sprinkles. Batman had chocolate icing; he is the dark knight, after all. And spiderman cupcakes were frosted white, and then I drew three concentric circles in black sparkly icing. Taking a toothpick, I began in the center and dragged it through the icing several times to the edge, forming a web. They were very fun to make. And they were very popular with our guests, especially with ice cream.
I spent little on the cupcakes, as well. Liners, wooden picks, cake mix and store-bought icing. Although, this project might have convinced me to get a circle cutter!
6. Yummy appetizers. I went with primary colored paper goods. I made some sausage pinwheels and spinach dip. I picked up some ginger cookies, hummus, pita chips, tortilla chips, salsa, fruit and veggies at the store. We served tea, lemonade, water and apple juice (in boxes). It was pretty simple.
7. Handmade decorations. I made "pow!," "zwapp!" and "bam!" signs out of poster board and hung those up inside and outside. I'm sure they'll spend some time on the boys' room walls.
In all, it was a great time. And we didn't spend that much to do it. A little online searching and planning, and we had a memorable day. My big guy had a great party and lots of fun with his friends. That made it all worth it - just to see that smile!