And you thought BPA stood for Bisphenol A. Been there. All the plastic cups are in the trash (see dad labs video as to why)
I now ready to tackle my other BPA problem: Birthday Party Anxiety.
It was so much easier when my kid was one year old. A birthday party for her meant a cooler and some of my best friends chilling in the park, passing around the cute baby.
Now birthday parties require that I invite my kids’ friends, organize an engaging activity, and procure a take home gift. Friends I get, and an activity may be in my best interst. But a take home gift? When did that come about. Daddy Brad has an opinion.
So, for you dads who are tasked with planning a birthday party and are having a little BPA, I share with you my story of the birthday party that worked almost flawlessly. Your results may differ.
Title: Planting Party
First, to the consternation of her feminist father, my five year old daughter is on a big princess kick (see the Dad Labs video in which dads debate princess parenting). I have chosen to let go lest I encourage it, and I might even have come around to engaging in it, but when the idea of a princess birthday party rose to the top I decided to use the number one parenting skill of all time: the redirect. Through a carefully constructed conversation, she and I as a team found a party idea that she thought might be fun. We could even get the face painter for which she had been asking.
Step One: Face painter with flower designs
Our face painter cost $80 for an hour, but a friend’s mom or dad could do this provided they use kid safe paints. She had an online portfolio, and a brief conversation with her on the phone assured me that she would show up in street clothes instead of a clown wig. For the cost of an hour, she painted ten five-year-old faces, two younger siblings, and four parents. She came with a picture book of photos with designs, including flowers, among which our partygoers could choose. One kid creatively went with Spiderman (spiders climb on plants you know). Final note: since some of your anxiety may stem from when to have the party, take into account that face painting lasts longer given a morning party.
Step Two: Alternate activity while kids get their faces painted
We drug the our kid craft tables (review here) out on the deck along with flower and vegetable coloring sheets from supercoloring.com. I tried desperately to herd the kids to these upon arrival hoping to avoid the “I am next for face painting” stampede. Herding children, while possible, is not birthday best practice. No one colored at first. The good news is that at least three kids at a time wanted to watch another get her face painted. The even better news is that others discovered the coloring sheets on their own time.
Step 3: Mimosas
While this would not work for all families, it’s a hit with our friends. Would you have alcohol at a kids birthday party? The dads at Dad Labs debate it in this video. A big add for mimosas is that the orange juice does double duty making for a kid drink with which most parents are ok. We did this party during brunch hours on a weekend so we also provided muffins. Next time we will do breakfast tacos instead.
Step 4: Eat dessert first
Since the remainder of this party involved soil and dirty fingernails, after the face painting we decided to go ahead and eat the cake first.
For this party mom and daughter made a flower cake to fit the theme.
We make these cakes at home, and Mom is known for making birthday cakes that defy baker physics. Last year it was a cowboy boot, and the year before a rocket. Her secret: The Cut Up Cake Book that her mom passed down to her.
This may be obvious to some of you, but it took four parties for me to learn so I will share. We put the kids at one table, blew out the candles, then transferred the cake (and knife) to a non kid table for cutting. Usher in the most calm cake cutting to date.
Step 5 Plant
A local nursery has a recycling bin for little pots and trays out of which we reclaimed a tray and 20 four inch pots for every kid coming to the party. Add two bags of soil and some seeds and you have a great party activity. Have some pre-labeled popsicle sticks and you have a spelling and reading activity. Seeds that were planted include vegetables and flowers. Kids can do this whole activity themselves. They are engaged, calm, and getting their hands dirty. It lasts from twenty minutes for some kids up to an hour for those with longer project tolerance.
Step 6 The party gift
Kids get to take home the tray full of small pots and seeds. Keep it dry for the ride home and then just add water. In case none of the seeds ever grew, and to give the kids a take home a little more obvious than seeds and soil, we gave as a party gift an already growing one-foot tomato plant. These plants cost about two bucks, but you could even do this part yourself if you plan well.
What I also really love about this birthday party is that it continues. For two weeks now my daughter has been watering her plants. Most seeds sprouted within five days. She runs out after dinner to check on them, and when I drop her off at school her friends report to me the progress of their plants.
Also, it’s a relatively cheap party. In the end if you skip paying the face painter and hold back on the the mimosas, you can get out for under fifty bucks. Dad deposits the saved dough in a 529 thereby decreasing his SCA: Saving for College Anxiety.
Here is a link to the Dad Labs forum discussion about birthday parties.