Capes & Tutus – 4th Birthday

This party is a good example of planning what suits your child rather than worrying too much about fitting into a theme from the local party store.

My daughter didn’t have a favorite character, but she liked pink and dressing up.  And since the guests would include toddler boys, the party became “Capes and Tutus.”

Also, I’d noticed at other kids’ parties, when the parents corralled everyone together to play a game, Sasha became upset – not knowing what was going on, being squished in a crowd or ushered away from Mom before she’d gotten acclimated just wasn’t her thing.  So I didn’t plan any structured games and I let her know everything we’d be doing.  (I also considered that she might not want a party – she said she did and I was confident that I could plan something she’d enjoy).

She wasn’t aware at all of the character Supergirl, but since her name starts with “S”, pink Supergirl party supplies came in handy.  They’re hard to find now, though.

Timing and Guests
This party was more like a big playdate.  The kids were preschool-age and their moms either didn’t work or were flexible enough in their schedules to come on a weekday afternoon.  In fact, the moms were grateful to have something to do with their kids that didn’t interfere with family time on the weekends.

Capes
I took one of my son’s capes into JoAnn Fabric, to use as a pattern, and the ladies there suggested fleece since it doesn’t unravel.  I found pink and blue fleece and they helped me figure out how much I needed and suggested these Velcro Sticky Back Squares because I do not sew.  They were terrific.  The velcro on my son’s cape had to be reattached a year later, but my daughter’s is still perfect after 3 years.

I think it was also the JoAnn ladies who suggested sticky-back felt for personalizing the capes.  I bought black and white Presto felt and cut out each child’s first initial (a #4 for the birthday girl) and the superhero shape.  When the kids arrived, they found their capes hanging from the mantel and their initials on the table.  They were able to attach the 3 pieces themselves.  The off-kilter results were adorable and everyone was excited to wear it.

Tutus
The Make Your Own Twirly Tutu book by Klutz was my guide for tutu-making.  I bought a party pack of extra supplies and added different colors of ribbon from my gift-wrapping stash.  I thought the girls would have fun picking out materials for their tutus, but they were more interested in playing, so the moms sat around and made their kids’ tutus and chatted.  The two boys - both 2-1/2 – wanted tutus, too.

Bubbles
One of the best investments I made was a bunch of the giant bubble wands that Learning Express carries when it’s warm.  We have at least 15 of them now and we’ve been using them at get-togethers for years.  (Adults like them, too.)

I mixed up a batch of homemade bubble solution - there are a lot of variations online, but I’ve found that water, Dawn Ultra dishsoap and corn syrup work best (and so does letting it sit for a few days first in your garage).  The kids made giant bubbles in the front yard before and after the party.

Even if the weather’s poor, it’s nice to have an unstructured activity outside for this age group – when little ones get overwhelmed or just need a break.

Pinata, Food & Photo
We had a #4 pinata, which the kids had a blast trying to hit, each wanting to try again and again.  It actually took two moms to finally break the thing and the kids stuffed Supergirl bags full of loot – the standard party store pinata toys, along with Supergirl and Superman rings, and bendable ballerinas.

I’d asked the moms ahead of time if they wanted me to serve dinner (the party was 4-6pm) – they did, so we had pizza, fruit, carrot sticks and a ballerina cake from Publix.

This is the one and only party where I’ve gotten a group photo - the children stood in front of a scene like this one and they said, “Ta-Da!”

A Note about Gifts
I’m in the minority among my friends, but I discourage gifts at these kinds of kids’ birthday parties.  I’m also not a fan of having the birthday child open gifts while everyone else watches.  It’s boring for the parents in attendance and excruciating for the children who have to look and not touch, especially at this toddler/preschool age.  And when the birthday child already has it or doesn’t like it – well, someone inevitably is squirming.

When I include “No Gifts, please” on the invitation, all but a few parents oblige.  When someone does bring a gift, we thank them and put the gift aside until after the party.  Neither of my children have ever objected except for when my daughter turned 5.

But that’s another story.